Is McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine Broken? The Mechanisms of McBroken

Website McBroken answers the universal question of every human being on the planet: “Is the McDonald’s ice cream machine broken?”

More specifically, the site’s map informs you of the working or broken status of all McDonald’s ice cream machines near you (and every McDonald’s location in the US). Green map markers indicate the location’s machine is working while red markers mean a broken machine.

McBroken also provides a statistical overview of McFlurry makers in big cities like New York, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, San Antonio, San Jose, Phoenix, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, and Seattle, in order, along with an overall broken percentage of all the machines in the U.S. (9.13% at the time of writing).

So how does McBroken do it for every person’s nearest McDonald’s at any given second to ensure you get your McDonald’s ice cream cone? Let’s take a look.

McBroken Behind the Scenes: A Background

First, a bit of background. The site was created by software engineer Rashiq Zahid. In October 2020, Zahid announced via Twitter that he “reverse engineered mcdonald’s internal ordering api. . . to figure out which locations have a broken ice cream machine.”

His method? He “plac[es] an order for a mcsundae every minute at every mcdonald’s location in the US.” This can total up to $18,752 each time.

The response was immediate. Twitter users thanked Zahid for his soft-service and some said he deserved a Nobel Peace Prize (check out his Nobel Prize competition here).

So why is McBroken such an innovative idea? The $1 vanilla soft-serve ice cream at McDonald’s (along with all McFlurries, McShakes, and other treats) is almost universally popular. Yet, as shown by this McDonalds ice cream machine meme, everyone knows successfully getting ice cream cones McDonalds is a gamble. The ice cream machine always seems to be broken. And when it happened to Zahid in July 2020, he started working on McBroken. So let’s explore how the API works.

McBroken’s API Explained

We’ll start with the basics: what is an API? API stands for “Application Programming Interface.” They give applications the ability to exchange data and functionality with other applications. Any time a website or application you’re using pulls information from another source, it’s likely doing so via that source’s API.

For example, when you use a travel aggregator to find a flight, the service is getting those results by using the providers’ APIs. While website pages are limited by their purpose of displaying information to us humans, our applications can skip past that limitation and get immense amounts of data quickly from a source’s API.

In McBroken’s case, Zahid first identified how McDonald’s communicates with their online ordering mobile app. It refuses orders for any items that are unavailable at a specific location. So, if a customer can’t add ice cream to their cart, it’s because the app reads that the location’s ice cream machine is broken from the API.

To know which locations’ ice cream machines were working vs. broken, Zahid must periodically order ice cream at every North America McDonald’s location, which he does automatically using a bot. Based on which locations accept his orders, he can identify those with working ice cream machines, which he shares on McBroken.

Applications can levy the power of companies such as McDonald’s thanks to their APIs. Other tasks made possible with APIs include signing in with your Google account on non-Google sites, and, of course, maps.

Make an Easy Map Without an API

Luckily, if you want to make your own map, like the one below, you don’t need to use an API yourself.

View McBroken Los Angeles in a full screen map

If you have any location data, here’s how to make an interactive map by simply copying and pasting from the spreadsheet tool of your choice (Excel, Google Sheets, etc.)

  1. Open your spreadsheet
  2. Select (Ctrl+A or Cmd+A) and copy (Ctrl+C or Cmd+C) your data
  3. Open your web browser and navigate to batchgeo.com
  4. Click on the location data box with the example data in it, then paste (Ctrl+V or Cmd+V) your own data
  5. Check to make sure you have the proper location data columns available by clicking “Validate and Set Options”
  6. Select the proper location column from each drop-down
  7. Click “Make Map” and watch as the geocoder performs its process

You can customize your marker colors to match your map’s content (in our case, green for “Working” machines and red for “Broken.” Plus, you have your choice of the shape of your markers along with six different map styles for the ultimate customization.

Find out more about making your own Google map here.

A Map of Colleges with the Most NBA Players

How many players are in the National Basketball Association (NBA)? The premier men’s professional basketball league is made up of 30 teams of 15 players. As that’s 450 athletes, the NBA is always on the lookout for rising talent.

Since the annual NBA draft began in 1947, it’s been the source of athletes for NBA teams—and NCAA college basketball players are often the focus. Of course, LeBron James and Dwight Howard were famously recruited out of high school—but since 2000, 247 NBA players have been drafted from one of 75 colleges.

So what college has the most NBA players and where did most of the first overall draft picks go to school? Find out on the map below.

View Colleges with the Most NBA Players in a full screen map

Duke vs Kentucky: #1 College with Most NBA Players

Zion Williamson playing for Duke

Where do basketball players prepare to join the big leagues? College. Seventy-five schools have sent at least one player to the pros via the draft—and six have sent players in the double digits to the NBA.

  • Duke (20 players)
  • Kentucky (20)
  • Kansas (14)
  • North Carolina (12)
  • Arizona (10)
  • UConn (10)

In total, 86 NBA players attended Duke, Kentucky, or one of the other colleges listed above. NCAA basketball fans will find it unsurprising that most draftees were alumni of Kentucky or Duke before going into the NBA.

In addition to sending 20 players each since 2000, both colleges top the charts with the number of first overall draft picks, which we’ll cover in the next section. They also rank among the top for NCAA championship wins, though Kentucky has a few more W’s under their belt, as we found in NCAA Tournament Map: Who Has the Most Wins?

Karl-Anthony Towns playing for Kentucky

First draft pick Andrew Wiggins is an alumn of Kansas, along with 13 other collegiates-turned-NBA-players. And while no number 1 draft picks—at least in this century—have come from North Carolina, 12 Tar Heels were chosen in various draft picks from the college. Top NBA franchises have also selected 10 players from both Arizona and UConn—while Texas is just one pick away from joining a three-way tie.

These colleges are most frequently attended by basketball players who move on to the NBA. Now let’s see if they continue to stack up when it comes to #1 draft picks.

Schools with the Most First Draft Picks

The NBA draft consists of two rounds of 30 picks, so when a player is selected first, it’s an indication of desirability and skill. Many #1 draft picks go on to earn the Most Valuable Player Award, play in an All-Star Game, or are Hall of Famers. Let’s take a look at the colleges with most NBA players chosen first in the draft

At least one player from each of the following colleges has been selected #1. And while Duke and Kentucky tie with total NBA players, there’s a clear winner when it comes to #1 draft picks, as shown in the following table.

School #1 Draft Pick Player(s) Draft
Kentucky John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns 2010, 2012, 2015
Duke Kyrie Irving, Zion Williamson 2011, 2019
Kansas Andrew Wiggins 2014
Arizona Deandre Ayton 2018
Washington Markelle Fultz 2017
LSU Ben Simmons 2016
Memphis Derrick Rose 2008
Ohio State Greg Oden 2007
Georgia Anthony Edwards 2020
Oklahoma Blake Griffin 2009
Cincinnati Kenyon Martin 2000
UNLV Anthony Bennett 2013
Utah Andrew Bogut 2005
Oklahoma State Cade Cunningham 2021

Consider this a win for Wildcats basketball. Kentucky boasts three first draft picks—all within the past 20 or so years—and more than any other NCAA college in the U.S. John Wall was drafted first to the Washington Wizards while Anthony Davis was selected to play for the New Orleans Hornets and Karl-Anthony Towns traveled to Minnesota to play for the Timberwolves. All three of these Kentucky alumni have played in an All-Star Game or All-NBA Team.

As for Duke, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson were selected first in the draft. Irving was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New Orleans Pelicans had their eye on Williamson. Like Kentucky, all of the first picks from Duke earned themselves an All-Star Game or All-NBA Team spot. While two first overall draft picks came from Duke this century, Art Heyman and Elton Brand were both chosen first in their respective draft classes, though not on the map.

Finally, Kansas, LSU, Memphis, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, and Utah each had alums picked first overall. Moreover, these particular picks have all been selected at least once for an All-Star Game or All-NBA Team.

To visualize more professional basketball stats, check out NBA Finals on a Map: Most Appearances, Most Wins or WNBA Champions Mapped. Or, to see Where College Football Players Come From, check out our map of their hometowns.

A Map of the Top Golf Courses & Where They’re Located

When the San Francisco 49ers transformed their football stadium into a 1,370-yard golf course one weekend back in 2017, fans—and even some of the 49ers’ players themselves—were eager to play.

Football may be America’s favorite pastime but golf—and even the courses it’s played on—are anything but forgettable. So let’s give a golf clap for the un-fore-gettable facts about the yardage and locations of these top golf courses that can be discovered on the map below.

View Golf Courses in a full screen map

We combined data from Golf Digest’s ranking of the 100 greatest American golf courses and Detroit Free Press’s table of PGA golf courses. You can sort the map by the yards, par, and points of these courses, or read on for more information.

Largest Top Courses

Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Ocean Course by Carlos Amoedo

A football field spans 100 yards (or 120, including end zones). Yet some of these colossal courses are nearly 80 times that size. Let’s take a look at the 10 largest.

  1. Kiawah Island Golf Resort – Ocean Course (7,849 yards)
  2. The Gallery Golf Club At Dove Mountain (7,833)
  3. Whistling Straits (7,790)
  4. Erin Hills (7,731)
  5. Inverness Club (7,730)
  6. Congaree (7,725)
  7. Rich Harvest Farms (7,704)
  8. Castle Pines (7,701)
  9. Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course – South Course (7,698)
  10. Hazeltine National Golf Club (7,678)

Not only is the Ocean Course at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort the #1 largest golf course in the U.S., but it was also the host of the 2021 PGA Championship. Together with Congaree, these two South Carolina courses comprise two of the 10 largest top golf courses in the country. And another two colossal courses are located in the Badger State of Wisconsin. Both Whistling Straits and Erin Hills add up to within 60 yards of each other and are around 70 miles apart.

Several states are home to just one massive course. This includes the Inverness Club in Ohio, Illinois’ Rich Harvest Farms, Castle Pines in Colorado, Arizona’s Gallery Golf Club At Dove Mountain, and the South Course at California’s Torrey Pines Municipal. But let’s look at some courses with other similarities.

Large Courses with the Same Yardages

In the previous section, we looked at top golf courses located in the same state. Now, let’s explore the courses that, while across the country from one another, have another similarity: their yardages.

Many courses on the map have a twin—at least when it comes to yardage. To view these pairs, sort the map by yards. More interesting are the courses of three, even four, with the exact same yardage, down to the tee.

The Sedgefield Country Club in North Carolina, TPC Harding Park in California, and Michigan’s Warwick Hills Golf Country Club are all located on 7,127-yard courses. And what do Diamond Creek, Double Eagle, and the Old Course at the Royal Troon have in common? The number 7,175. These course triplets are located in North Carolina, Ohio, and Scotland in the U.K., respectively.

The last three courses spanning identical yards include Calusa Pines in Florida, Virginia’s Kinloch, and the North Course at Silverado Resort & Spa in California.

Finally, these four golf courses are all 7,400 yards: the two South courses at Ontario’s Angus Glen and Ohio’s Firestone Country Club and, perhaps most interesting of all, New Jersey’s Lower Course at Baltusrol and Liberty National—also in the Garden State. How can we map a route between the two?

Optimally Map A Route

Baltusrol and Liberty National courses

We mentioned the Baltusrol and Liberty National courses are located in New Jersey. These two 7,400-yard courses are just under 18 miles away from one another in Springfield and Jersey City, respectively. So let’s take a look at the best way to get from Point A (Baltusrol) to Point B (Liberty National).

In Advanced Mode on your map, opt for the Rectangle selection tool (or one of the two other selection options: Circle selection tool or Polygon selection tool). Capture a point on the map and click on Optimal Route.

Then, type in a Starting Location (Baltusrol, in our case) and Ending Location and click the button to map. The result? A visual depiction of the best way between two points and the ability to hit the Navigate button to be directly taken to Google Maps directions. Get started mapping the Optimal Routes of your data at batchgeo.com.