Why is This 24-Year-Old Tracking McDonald’s Broken Ice-Cream Machines?

  • POSTED ON: October 26, 2020

How many times have you been to a McDonalds and you’re excited to dive right into the sugary and cold ice-cream cone but… the machine is broken?

Well, we have a savior! A 24-year-old engineer has launched McBroken – a website which aims to end these heartbreaking incidents once and for all. The site shows a map of every McDonald’s location in the US with the help of dots. Now the McDonald's ice-cream machines that work are denoted by a green dot and the ones that don’t are denoted by a red one. Next, there is a column on the right that shows statistics of the broken machines in the US – currently 15.22% just in New York.

Rashiq Zahid is the one who came up with this wonderful idea! In July he visited McDonald’s in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin and tried to order a McSundae with help from the touchscreen kiosk. To his bad luck, it wasn’t available. He then tried to order from the mobile app, and a similar response was received.

“I love poking around in different apps and just looking at the security features and the internal APIs. I am pretty familiar with how to reverse-engineer apps. I was like ‘Okay, this should be pretty easy.” – Said Zahid.

He also tried to create an API to add a McSundae from every McDonald’s location to his cart every few minutes. Next thing he knows, he’s blocked.

After several failed attempts, Zahid figured out the magic time frame. This way, his bot tried to add the McSundae every 30 minutes – successfully! Also, this way, McBroken finds out that the location’s machine is working. However, if it can’t get added, the location gets a red dot.

This trick was first tested in Germany in approximately 1,500 locations. He biked his way to every location in Berlin and manually placed orders to find out if the bot was returned with corrected information. It was an effective way! Now he has expanded his vision to the States.

“I was like, this would be pretty interesting for Germany, but it would be amazing for the US, which is basically the capital of McDonald’s.”– said Zahid.

Now here’s a crazy fact: Within 20 minutes of its launch, the site received 10,000 visitors which made the site a bit sluggish and it finally ended up crashing. This was bound to happen, since Zahid is running this site on a server that charges only $5 a month.

With this site, let’s hope that McDonald’s never stops its operation. Only a true fan would go to such lengths though particularly in the United States!


Updated October 26, 2020
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