McDonald’s fickle ice cream machine and the small company that got frozen out trying to fix it
To love McDonald’s ice cream products is to court disappointment—and to hear this sentence repeatedly: “Our machine is broken.” The Taylor digital ice cream machine behind the chain’s frozen desserts is notoriously temperamental, requiring dozens of parts, a nightly reset, and near-perfection from the humans who work it. On top of that, critics say its repair manual doesn’t reveal the basics of keeping it in tip-top shape, and franchises are locked into pricey maintenance contracts that don’t get any of us closer to that consistently available cone. But when partners Jeremy O’Sullivan and Melissa Nelson tried to use the machine to build an automated froyo-booth business, their frustration led them to make the Kytch, a device installed inside the Taylor contraption to bypass secret codes and diagnose problems easier. As Wired tells the story, that’s when their friendly relationship with Taylor got awkward and McDonald’s forbade its franchisees from using the device (saying vaguely it can cause injury). Looks like this will get litigious; Kytch claims that its tech was illegally duplicated.