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McDonald's ice cream
Photograph: Shutterstock/Karolis

This interactive map tracks busted McDonald’s ice cream machines across the U.S.

McBroken makes it easy to get your McSugar fix.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

A 24-year-old software engineer is tackling one of the country's biggest unsolved mysteries: Where's the nearest McDonald's with a functioning ice cream machine? Over the years, the global fast food chain has been the butt of countless jokes regarding its notoriously busted soft-serve machines, which undergo rigorous cleanings that temporarily render the equipment useless.

Enter McBroken, the hilarious pet project of Rashiq Zahid that uses real-time data to track exactly which machines are functioning and which are down. How does he do it? Zahid tells The Verge that he developed a bot that "shops" McDonald's app every 30 minutes. If the ice cream machine is down at any given location, customers aren't even able to add frozen desserts to their cart. By reverse engineering the chain's internal API, Zahid is able to tell rather quickly which machines are working. Those that are not are marked with a red dot on the map.

Zahid later clarified that he's not actually placing orders and that no ice cream is wasted in the process. He reports that within the first 48 hours of setting the site live, he had about 16 million interactions with the map and 1.5 million unique users. Among them? David Tovar, McDonald's vice president of U.S. communications, who tweeted his support for the ingenious website.

When this article was published, an estimated 12.9 percent of McDonald's ice cream machines across the country were currently "broken," but you can get a closer look at your city's stats here. Love what you see? You can support Zahid's project by buying him a McFlurry, a.k.a. a $4 donation.

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