By Mike Pomranz
Updated January 20, 2017
© McDonald's

As we forge headfirst into 2017, the world is faced with a lot of troubling issues. However, despite the recent battering mainstream print publications have taken, some members of the press are still willing to dig deep to answer some of society’s most compelling questions—media outlets like The Wall Street Journal, which yesterday published a 1,000-plus word piece asking “Why Is the McFlurry Machine Down Again?”

Alright, so maybe the plight of McDonald’s soft serve makers is not the most important problem we are all facing now, but apparently it is one that drives a lot of fast food patrons mad. One of the many stats the WSJ revealed in its article is that, in 2016, out-of-service ice cream machines were the top customer complaint on Twitter, beating out the previous year’s top problem: poor employee attitudes. Yeah, it’s so bad, the ice cream machines are more frustrating than the people who run them. It’s like some strange Terminator-type scenario where, instead of killing all the humans, the machines use their new sentient powers to just become bigger jerks than we are.

The Wall Street Journal cites another revealing statistic as well. In 2000, a McDonald’s franchise consultant discovered that 25 percent of the restaurants he surveyed reported they weren’t serving ice cream because of trouble with their machines.

These findings point to the fact that McDonald’s ice cream woes aren’t isolated incidents. Customers truly are struggling to get their frozen treat fix at the chain. But what’s behind it? Apparently, the problem is multifaceted. First, even when the machines are working, they take a long time to clean, described as an 11-step process that includes an up to four-hour automated heat cleaning cycle to kill bacteria. And though that process is supposed to happen after a store has closed, for 24-hour locations, it has to happen sometime.

However that explanation assumes the machines are working at all. Though the manufacture of the machines refused to comment, the WSJ found, “Some McDonald’s franchisees say the machines are temperamental and expensive to repair.” And of course, workers have to be willing to deal with them as well. “Everything about the machine is just miserable,” one former employee was quoted as saying. “If someone came in 30 minutes before closing and ordered a McFlurry, would you want to risk something else splattering all over the area you just wiped? No.”

So there you have it: The world might be facing a lot of issues, but at least one – the McFlurry question – has been properly dissected. However, finding a solution sounds like it could be surprisingly complex. Ugh, let’s just tackle something easier first… like healthcare or global warming.