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A new task force is setting out to "ensure that McDonald's is no longer the butt of the joke."

By Jelisa Castrodale
October 21, 2020
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If you type the words "McDonald's ice cream machine" into Google, it automatically suggests some related searches like "McDonald's ice cream machine broken," or "McDonald's ice cream machine jokes."

That's because the fast food chain's eternally non-functional soft-serve machines are a joke—at least until you're craving a hot fudge sundae like mad. But according to Business Insider, a group of franchise owners and suppliers have pledged to finally get those ice cream machines sorted, saying that "no idea is off the table at all" when it comes to trying to solve what has become a long-term problem for a significant number of restaurants.

Ice cream coming out of machine
Credit: JodiJacobson/Getty Images

Tyler Gamble, a franchisee and leader of the chain's National Supply Leadership Council (NSLC) equipment team announced the creation of his new McFlurry-focused task force at the annual National Owners Association meeting earlier this month. "I will not feel that my tenure as your equipment lead has been a success unless we find a way to ensure that McDonald's is no longer the butt of the joke, even with their own social media team," he said.

But, let's be honest: we've heard this before, and this isn't exactly a new problem. In 2016, a data analytics company determined that broken ice cream machines were the most common customer complaint on social media. (A year earlier, 'employee attitudes' were customers' most frequent source of irritation.)

In 2017, writer Raina McLeod was so frustrated by her inability to get a McFlurry, she worked to create and launch Ice Check, an app that allowed users to report whether or not the ice cream machines were working at their local McD's. "I feel like an activist—and that’s a weird thing to say," McLeod told DC Inno. "I really do think that people should have what they want.”

And just this February, a company called Kytch said that it had developed a software add-on that could monitor older ice cream machines and "self-correct" any tech glitches or operator errors that could cause them to be temporarily sidelined. McDonald's started using Kytch in some of its restaurants last year, but the company could not give Business Insider any exact numbers.

"[McDonald's] remains committed to providing a restaurant experience that our customers expect, and that includes being able to purchase the sweet treats they enjoy from our dessert menu," the company said in a statement. "McDonald's, our franchisees, and our suppliers are constantly working together on improving and enhancing the restaurant experience so that customers can enjoy McDonald's food where and when they want it."

Then again, I guarantee that as soon as hot fudge sundaes are available at any restaurant, at any time, that's when I'll stop craving them.