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FTC wants to know why McDonald's ice cream machines are always broken

Why is the ice cream machine always broken at McDonald's?
Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 02, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The seldom-operating soft-serve ice cream machines at McDonald's have become a source of frustration for customers across the nation and an easy punch line for late-night talk-show hosts.

Now, the Federal Trade Commission wants to know more about the problem, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reports the FTC has sent letters to McDonald's franchises this past summer wondering about the problem.

The story reports that McDonald's franchise owners say the machines are "complicated" and that fixing them when they are broken is "hard."

"The machines require a nightly automated heat-cleaning cycle that can last up to four hours to destroy bacteria," The Journal reports. "The cleaning cycle can fail, making the machines unusable until a repair technician can get them going again, owners say."

Those mechanical problems have led to the creation of a website,, dedicated to ice cream machines down across the country. According to the website's most recent reports, two machines were down at McDonald's in the Corpus Christi area as of 2:45 p.m. Thursday and 10.14 percent of all ice cream machines were broken at that time.

McDonald's officials have developed a team working on the problem. But the franchise owners tell the Journal they are getting sick of being laughed at because of the problem.

Still, late-night hosts like Steven Colbert and Jimmy Fallon have repeatedly made jokes about the issue. And even rivals like Burger King and Wendy's have laughed at McDonald's over the oft-broken machinery that makes their McFlurries.

Have you seen this as a problem at McDonald's restaurants you visit?