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Ex-McDonald's Chef Reveals the Truth Behind the Broken Ice Cream Machines

Spoiler alert: they're probably not broken.

A McFlurry, shake, or ice cream sundae can be the perfect addition to a salty fast-food meal. But as McDonald's fans have come to learn, the machine that churns out these beloved sweet treats isn't the most reliable and has become notorious for being out of order. There's even a website, playfully named "McBroken," that's dedicated to tracking which McDonald's locations have working ice cream machines.

With this occurrence being so common, many customers have been left with one major question: what's the deal with the machines? Mike Haracz, a former McDonald's corporate chef, recently hopped on TikTok to offer some clarity.

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In a recent video, Haracz explained that the ice cream machines at McDonald's often aren't actually broken. Instead, they are being cleaned or the person who knows how to assemble or disassemble them is not present.

"If they are there, it's probably during peak time, so you know, two in the morning would probably be a great time to clean the ice cream machine, but with a minimal kitchen staff at that time, they're probably really busy and really can't do it, so they'll do it during more peak times."

Haracz went on to say that if the machine isn't assembled correctly, then it won't work, plus, "the cleaning cycle takes quite a while." He added that this process is likely not getting done at a time when there are minimal customers—like 2 or 3 a.m.—because this is when staffing levels are low.

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In the comments section of Haracz' video, multiple self-identified McDonald's employees shared their own experiences with the ice cream machine not being operational.

"When I worked there we refused to fill [the machine] when we didn't feel like cleaning it during close," one TikTok user wrote. "The model my store had was so hard to take apart and clean properly. Flushing it was pretty easy just putting the valves back together was the worst," another one added.

McDonald's ice cream machines have been at the center of controversy for years. In 2022, Kytch—the software company responsible for the technology designed to fix McDonald's ice cream machine issues—sued the fast-food chain and alleged it is purposely dodging simpler solutions to fixing these machines to maintain a monopoly on the technology.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna
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