It's a tale as old as McDonald's itself -- last summer, 24-year-old Rashiq Zahid traveled to Berlin, Germany, when suddenly, he came down with a craving for a McSundae. Looking to satisfy his hankering for the frozen, sugary treat, Zahid headed over to the city's Kreuzberg district, where he ordered the dessert. Yet likely to his disappointment, they were out of ice cream. Still determined to get his fix, he tried once again to secure his McSundae, this time from the McDonald's app on his phone -- only to be foiled once again. He left empty-handed, a testament to the devastating power of every McDonald's fan's least favorite six-word phrase -- "the ice cream machine is broken."
For years, it seemed this heartbreak was an inevitable part of the McDonald's experience, a recurring problem doomed to repeat itself for all of eternity -- or so we thought. On Thursday afternoon, the software engineer - nay, hero - emerged with the solution we've been looking for, a tool called McBroken, designed to inform users which McDonald's locations have functioning ice cream machines.
"I reverse engineered mcdonald's internal api and I'm currently placing an order worth $18,752 every minute at every mcdonald's in the US to figure out which locations have a broken ice cream machine," Zahid wrote on Twitter. "I'm sorry mcdonald's data analyst I'm afraid I'm ruining your entire mobile conversion metrics for my own personal amusement," he added in a reply -- his own personal amusement, and to help millions of Americans looking to enjoy a McFlurry.
So how exactly does it work? Every 30 minutes, Zahid's bot attempts to order a McSundae at McDonald's locations across all 50 states. If the bot is able to add the items, McBroken marks it as working, giving it a green dot. If they can't add the item, the location is assigned a red dot, a warning to those looking to avoid disappointment when going for a Shamrock Shake.
"to clarify how this works: mcdonald's keeps track which locations have a broken machine, I'm merely querying for those - no order gets executed, no ice cream is actually wasted," Zahid explained. Smart and resourceful!
This strategy seems to check out -- shortly after the initial post, a Twitter account operated by someone who says they work for the fast-food chain seems to confirm the method, The Verge reported, appearing to encourage McDonald's employees to use the tool for their own internal purposes. "$MCD Operators, a great portal to see if your restaurant has marked your ice cream cone as 'unavailable' in the POS," wrote @McD_Truth"Updates throughout the day. Very interesting..."
Rashiq Zahid, here's to you. Thank you for being the hero we so desperately needed in these dire times. 2020 may still suck, but hey, at least we can reliably treat ourselves to a McFlurry now.