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Is Your Local McDonald’s Soft-Serve Machine Broken? This Map Will Tell You

Plus, Coca-Cola is axing 200 of its drinks, and other news to start the day

Two hands, each holding a McDonald’s vanilla soft-serve cone.
This McDonald’s soft-serve machine must have been working.
Photo: Karolis Kavolelis/Shutterstock

Finally, a map of every McDonald’s location with a functioning ice-cream machine

McDonald’s soft-serve machines always seeming to be out of order is such a common gripe that it has inspired memes, countless Reddit and Quora queries, and a recent promise from a McDonald’s franchisees association that it will focus on improving the chain’s machines so that “McDonald’s is no longer the butt of the joke, even with their own social media team.”

The recurring problem has inspired a new tool called McBroken, a website that uses data from McDonald’s internal API (a way for apps to talk to each other) to track which locations — displayed as dots on a map — have working ice-cream machines, and which are “broken” (although a more accurate term might be “inoperable,” since it includes machines that are unavailable because they’re being cleaned).

McBroken was created by software engineer Rashiq Zahid, who tells the Verge that he came up with the idea over the summer after attempting twice to order a McSundae in Berlin — once from a touchscreen kiosk, once from the mobile app — to no avail. After some trials, he came up with a bot that attempts to add a McSundae to its cart on the mobile app every 30 minutes. As long as stores are properly updating the status of their soft-serve machines, the data in McBroken should be accurate, making it all the easier for devotees to get their dose of the unmelting, alabaster swirl of “cellulose gum, guar gum, and carrageenan” that is a McDonald’s soft-serve cone,” as Eater NY chief critic Ryan Sutton has described it.

While this isn’t the first time a McDonald’s fan has created a tool meant to track the chain’s functioning ice-cream machines — in 2017, someone made an app that relies on crowdsourced reports — McBroken is unique in its dataset. Some people have already begun running the data through tools like the Urban Institute’s Spacial Equity Data Tool to discover if McDonald’s with broken machines are overrepresented in areas that demographically skew Black and low-income.

And in other news…

  • Right on the heels of announcing the discontinuation of beloved(?) brands TaB soda, Odwalla smoothies and juice, and Zico coconut water, Coca-Cola said on an analyst call that it is getting rid of 200 drinks, including some in the “hydration” category (a.k.a. Powerade, Vitamin Water, Dasani, etc.), as well as brands only sold in certain markets. RIP regionalization and hydration! [CNN]
  • On the myth-perpetuating genre of journalists always visiting diners in Trump country. [The Counter]
  • Crock-Pot Facebook group admin, you’re doing great sweetie:

All AM Intel Coverage [E]