I have a new woman to look up to in tech, and her name is Raina McLeod. Raina made an iPhone app called Ice Check that directs you to the nearest working McFlurry machine at a McDonald’s. Raina is a goddess.
I am personally invested in this app because even though I don’t frequently eat at McDonald’s, when I do go, I really, really want McDonald’s. This is because it’s likely past 3AM, I’ve had a few shots of Jameson, and the idea of some amalgamation of salt, fat, sugar, and carbs turns me into a Big Mac homing device. When I’m in this position and placing my order, there are two sentences a McDonald’s employee can say that will turn my heart into a raisin: “Sorry, we’re serving breakfast now,” and “Sorry, our McFlurry machine is down.”
You have probably heard of the Legend of the Broken Ice Cream Machine. Based on my own scientific research, which consists of many visits to various McDonald’s across the United States after drinking alcohol, I personally believe that McFlurry machines are broken more than they’re working.
I know I’m not alone in my feelings because A) I typed “McDonald’s ice cream” into Google and it wanted to autofill in “machine meme” and B) the Wall Street Journal actually spent the time and money to investigate why McDonald’s ice cream machines are down all the time. The short answer is that it takes four hours to clean them every day. And, getting it ready for this cleaning takes 11 steps. It’s so complicated the article says: “if someone ordered an ice cream while employees were in the process of cleaning the machines, they often just said it was down rather than reassembling it.” On top of McFlurry-related sadness, I now have McFlurry-related trust issues.
So, back to my new hero. Raina tells Buzzfeed, “I came up with the idea for the app around a year ago, after a late night Oreo McFlurry craving went unfulfilled due to the ice cream machine being down.” This automatically makes Raina a better person than me, as my normal response in this situation is to go home with a No. 1 and grumble my feelings into french fries, which I now can’t dunk into a McFlurry, but have ordered anyway.
The app works via GPS and input from users. You can locate a McDonald’s and it will then tell you if the machine is in service, based upon crowdsourced reports. It is truly amazing what humans can accomplish by pooling resources. Of course, this also means that the app might not be entirely accurate if there aren’t enough people reporting on the status of these machines. There is also an option for franchise owners to claim their location so they can update the status of their store’s machine, but it’s unclear if any of them have signed up to do this (or if they ever will).
Raina views her app as activism, which is not wrong. "Why should this big company not give us what we want when we want it?" she said in an interview with DC Inno. "I don’t want us to have to work, but they’re not telling us. I feel like an activist — and that’s a weird thing to say. I really do think that people should have what they want."
As of now, Ice Check is only available for iOS. My advice is to download the app so you can contribute to The Cause and know you made a difference in someone’s day. Godspeed, Raina McLeod, newly anointed patron saint of McFlurries. Godspeed.