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Being a fan of McDonald's ice cream isn't easy.
You get your hopes up for a cone and cruise through the drive-thru, only to be told the ice cream machine is broken again.
It's a problem nearly every McDonald's fan has likely experienced at least once in their lives.
And without a functioning ice cream machine, there are no ice cream cones, no sundaes, and none of your beloved McFlurries.
The problem has gotten so bad that fans are turning to social media to decry to lack of the frozen treats.
In 2016, it was the most common service-related complaint to McDonald's on Twitter, and if anything, the problem has only gotten worse since then.
Apparently, there's a perfectly good reason that McDonald's ice cream machines seem to be broken almost more often than they're working: They're not broken.
According to a 2017 Wall Street Journal investigation, industrial soft serve machines must go through a laborious cleaning cycle that can last hours.
It's an 11-step process that includes using a sanitizer solution to clean seven removable parts.
There are also two irremovable parts that must be scrubbed for at least 60 seconds, before the entire outside of the machine is wiped down with a sanitized towel.
During this labor-intensive process, the machines are unable to serve up any frosty goodness, and if the crew is busy serving customers, cooking food, or cleaning other parts of the restaurant, the machine sits unassembled and inoperable.
The soft serve machines also go through a four-hour heat cleaning cycle every night to get rid of any bacteria lingering on the inside and some employees may start that process early to get a head start on closing up.
If that's the case, you're out of luck.
Not to mention, many McDonald's are now open 24-hours, meaning there's really no time to clean the machine without disappointing a few ice cream-loving customers.
To McDonald's credit, they do seem to be aware of the issue and in March 2017 revealed a plan to replace the old ice cream machines with newer versions that have fewer parts to clean and would be easier for employees to maintain.
Unfortunately, customers are still waiting for those magical machines to materialize.
In November 2017, a McDonald's representative told Business Insider that while the company had identified which new machines would work best, they had yet to actually purchase the machines and move them into stores.
Of course, the problem with the ice cream machines isn't always that they need to be cleaned.
Every now and then, when an employee tells you that it's broken, it actually is.
Many of the machines are reportedly old and temperamental, which makes them prone to breaking down.
Richard Adams, a consultant to McDonald's franchisees, told the Wall Street Journal that he once conducted a survey showing that 25 percent of McDonald's restaurants weren't selling ice cream because the machines were truly broken.
Not surprisingly, McDonald's doesn't seem to be in a hurry to fix or replace the machines that are frequently breaking, probably because the new machines are eventually on the way.
In response to the perpetual lack of ice cream at the Golden Arches, one frustrated customer went so far as to develop an app to address the issue.
Raina McLeod created the free app called Ice Check solely for the purpose of warning customers about McDonald's locations where the ice cream machine was on the fritz.
And rival fast food giant Wendy's took an opportunity to throw some serious shade at McDonald's during a 2018 Ask Me Anything Reddit session with the company's social media team.
Wendy's couldn't help but take the bait when a Redditor asked why McDonald's ice cream machines were always broken, writing "Same reason they serve round burgers, cause they cut corners."
Whether the ice cream machine is truly broken or it's just in the middle of a lengthy cleaning process, the availability of soft serve at McDonald's is always a gamble.
Cross your fingers the new machines arrive sometime soon or just go grab a Frosty.
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The Real Reason McDonald's Ice Cream Machines Always Seem To Be Broken

6880 Folder Collection
Julia Kuo published on July 4, 2019    Julia Kuo translated    Evangeline reviewed
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