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Why McDonald's McFlurry Machines Are Always Broken—and Why They Won't Be in the Future

There's good news on the horizon for fans of McDonald's ever-elusive sundaes and Oreo McFlurrys.

by Jelisa Castrodale
08 March 2017, 9:42am

A few days ago, a Sonic Drive-In posted a flat-out savage sign at one of its Alabama locations. "Our ice cream machine works, unlike Mc…NVM"

We're not saying it's a coincidence, but McDonald's has just announced that it will be rolling out shiny new ice cream machines in its restaurants in the US and Europe.

Sonic's sign aside, this comes after years of McFrustrations from McDonald's customers about constantly broken ice cream machines or the restaurants' frequent excuses for why McFlurries weren't available. According to the The Wall Street Journal, the new frozen treat makers "have fewer parts and are easier to maintain," two factors which should mean that they'll work more consistently than the previous versions.

"In order to better serve our customers the delicious treats they enjoy like shakes, sundaes, McFlurries and soft serve cones, McDonald's restaurants are phasing in new soft serve/milkshake machines beginning in Q4 of this year," McDonald's spokesperson Terri Hickey told MUNCHIES. "The new soft serve/milkshake machines will provide more range of choices for our customers with the ability to serve additional flavours."

And let's be honest: the ability to serve any flavour would be an improvement. It doesn't matter where you live or what time you started craving a Reese's McFlurry, because, as it is now, there's a better than average chance you'll be walking out of the restaurant empty-handed. (Or you'd be hate-eating a box of McNuggets you didn't even want). The Journal says that the McOutages have been so frequent and affected so many locations, that disappointed ice cream lovers started sharing complaints and "conspiracy theories" online – and those reporters are right. Reddit alone has countless posts that range from questions about whether the machines are really broken to Ask Me Anything requests for managers who can explain the outages.

As for the real reason behind all of those broken machines (and broken dreams), McDonald's hasn't offered an official explanation, but some former workers have said that the McFlurry machine required a three- to four-hour cleaning cycle, so sometimes staff members would disconnect it early, just to get it ready for the approximately two minutes it would be operational the next day. WSJ's sources say that cleaning the ice cream machine took 11 separate steps, including removing and washing seven separate parts, and brushing "two fixed parts" for a full minute each.

"The modern ice cream machines have a mandatory heat treatment cycle that takes a minimum of 3 hours to complete, and much longer if the machines is not prepared for it. In addition, they must be disassembled for cleaning every 14 days, and if that cleaning is not completed the machines locks out," one McDonald's crew member wrote on Reddit last month. "In addition, improper [maintenance] or parts failure can easily cause the machine to be unable to maintain minimum performance, causing another lock out."

Will the new machines be an improvement? Come on, they'd have to be. Literally anything would be an improvement. If not, customers and Sonic signs will be the first to let McDonald's know.