I want to start off by saying that yes, if these 2 things had occurred separately from each other, they probably wouldn’t have even come up on my radar.  But, something about these things happening one after another has a weird, Arrested-Developement-style compounding “bad things happening to bad people” vibe to them that I just can’t ignore.  

First off: McDonald’s is being sued for $900 million by a company formally responsible for fixing their ice cream machines.  Tech startup Kytch had created a device that could be hooked up to the inside of the ice cream machines and perform diagnostic checks and run basic troubleshooting, helping to prevent the machines from breaking down as often as they do.  While the device was popular with many McDonald’s franchisees, corporate issued an order to cease usage of the devices- calling them “safety hazards-” confiscating many of them, and later told franchisees that they could upgrade to new machines that came with a suspiciously similar replacement to the Kytch device already installed.  Kytch now claims that the “safety hazard” defamation has driven away all of their remaining business and are accusing McDonald’s and Taylor (the company making the “upgraded” machines) of reverse engineering their product.  As someone who has worked with faulty equipment (some of which made by Taylor) that seems to constantly get called in for repairs but never replaced, it’s no surprise to me that many are accusing McDonald’s and Taylor of creating a racket to bleed franchisees dry with repair bills.

On top of that, the hashtag #boycottmcdonalds was trending on Twitter for a while.  This was born out of companies like Apple, Netflix, and many major credit card companies pulling their services from Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.   Meanwhile, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Pepsico haven’t. (It may be worth noting that while #boycottcocacola and #boycottpepsi were also used extensively within Ukraine, #boycottmcdonalds somehow seems to be the only one that’s really taken off in the West.)

[UPDATE: As of 3/8, McDonald’s has, in fact, temporarily closed all Russian locations.]

Listen: I haven’t been a stranger to hashtag activism on this blog.  I’ve went on and on about how Chic-fil-A is homophobic and Wendy’s’ CEO is a huge Trump supporter and tried hopelessly to believe that where you spend your money speaks louder than words.  But… what exactly is the rationale behind this?  Do you think Putin eats Big Macs?  Are you convinced Ronald McDonald is one of the many oligarchs pulling the strings behind the invasion?  I literally can’t envision any possible way where McDonald’s closing all 850 of its Russian locations is going to affect the war at all. Ok, one exception: all the poor Russians who had taken to working at McDonald’s as a last resort find themselves unemployed, and, with no other options, join the army.  Is that the outcome you want?  This is the culinary equivalent of all those colleges banning books by Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, because Russian (shoutout to the one guy on Twitter who specifically called out Dostoevsky, who died in 1881, for not speaking out against Putin’s regime). Talk about how America still buys Russian oil or donate some money to a Ukrainian relief charity if you want to feel like you’re doing something.

What does all this really mean?  Well, there’s one other major detail I’ve saved for the end, here.  You see, this reminder of the ice cream machines’ reputation of always being broken and the calls to boycott are also coinciding with a major event on the McDonald’s calendar: Shamrock Shake availability.  Will these compounding obstacles hurt Shamrock Shake sales? Probably not, but they probably aren’t helping, either.  

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