The Ultimate Guide To McDonald's McFlurries

Sometimes all you want is some ice cream. Whether you've just spent the day at the beach, are on a road trip with friends, or just had a hard day at work, a smooth, fluffy vanilla treat with a bit of candy or cookie mixed in sounds just like heaven. This is where McFlurries come in. The famous dessert option from fast food giant McDonald's has been satisfying sweet cravings since the 1990s and shows no signs of slowing down. There are so many fans of the ice cream that the dessert even has its own thread on Reddit. It's known affectionately as r/McFlurry.

It's somewhere fans can gather to talk about all things McFlurry. Some posters discuss their favorite international flavors, while others share McFlurry hacks for the best-tasting options. Our personal favorite is ordering an apple pie and adding it to your ice cream for a small taste of Thanksgiving in a cup. Whether you order a McFlurry every afternoon or are somehow new to the world of McDonald's ice cream, here is everything you should know about the famous dessert.

The first McFlurry was made in Canada

While it might seem like the McFlurry has always been a part of the McDonald's menu, it wasn't even invented until 1995. The inventor, Ron McLellan, has the perfect name to be in business with McDonald's. According to CTV News, McLellan owned a McDonald's franchise location in Bathurst, New Brunswick in Canada. He dreamed up the ice cream treat that is now served at locations in more than 99 different countries around the globe. At the 20th anniversary of the launch of his idea, he told the news outlet, "I never expected that my creation would circle the globe with countries mixing together their own unique [flavors]."

According to NewsBank Inc., the dessert officially launched in the United States in early 1998. From there, it expanded rapidly in both popularity and availability across the country. The McFlurry made its debut at a key point in McDonald's history. The company had been underperforming in the quarters before its launch. So, the summer of 1998, when Americans got their first real taste of the treat and sales soared, was a real game changer for the Golden Arches.

It's likely the machine is being cleaned, not broken

It's common to complain about the McDonald's ice cream machine being broken in online culture. Every time you log onto TikTok or Twitter, you are likely to see someone joking around about being in line for their favorite sweet treat, only to be turned away due to technical difficulties. Horror upon horror, this might have happened to you in real life, too. Some fans have stated they don't even bother ordering ice cream at the fast food giant unless they see other customers already eating it, per The Wall Street Journal.

Yet, the outlet did some major investigative reporting into this inconvenience. The team found that most of the time when the ice cream machine is said "to be down" or "broken" or whatever words the employees use, it's not actually not working. Instead, the machine simply needs to be cleaned. "We regularly service our soft-serve equipment during off-peak hours. Customers who come in during that time may encounter a longer wait time or soft-serve dessert unavailability," a McDonald's corporate employee told the outlet.

However, one look at the operating manual for the ice cream machine and you can quickly understand why it takes so long. The cleaning process is long and intricate and would be very hard to complete while maintaining other duties at the same time. So the next time you have a hankering for a McFlurry, just hope it's a slow day at your local McDonald's.

McFlurries have a special spoon for ease of stirring

One of the best things about McFlurries is that each bite is just as good as the last. You won't get a taste of just plain ice cream. Instead, the mix-in that you chose should be evenly distributed throughout the treat. According to Reader's Digest, this is entirely by design and it starts with the spoon. Many who enjoy the frozen treat have tried to use the hollow spoon as a straw. We have to admit, we did this as kids, too — but always found the treat a little bit too thick to enjoy that way. It's not quite a straw, but instead a pocket for the long arm of the mixing machine.

To keep things sanitary, and to avoid cross-contamination of allergens, the actual mixing machine doesn't touch each McFlurry, per Reader's Digest. Instead, the spoon acts as the mixer, ensuring the toppings are thoroughly dispersed in the ice cream. If you have ever seen the mixing process in person, you will also know that it is quite vigorous. All this motion brings a lot of air into the McFlurry, giving it a texture that is nice and fluffy.

In Australia, they don't stir McFlurries at all

Unfortunately for McDonald's fans in the great land Down Under, their McFlurries aren't stirred up at all. In Australia, the popular fast food chain is known affectionately as "Maccas," yet Aussies have no affection for the top-heavy McFlurries they have been served. According to Business Insider, Maccas switched up its recipe in the country as early as 2015. Instead of swirling the candy bits and sauce of choice throughout the ice cream, it's all just piled up on top, instead. Understandably, this left Australians quite upset. They felt like they should just purchase an ice cream sundae instead of a McFlurry if this was going to be the case.

A spokesperson for the brand Down Under gave this statement to BuzzFeed when asked: "This change was made several years ago, but you will be pleased to know our McFlurry is still as popular as ever. The machines took up considerable space in our kitchens, so the decision was made that they would be hand stirred — with love — by our crew." If you are in Australia and are interested in a McFlurry that's been flurried properly, you can also ask for another empty cup to place some of the excess toppings. This way, you can add them back in as you enjoy the dessert, instead of having one big bite of mixed goodness, followed by dozens of just plain ice cream.

You can try different McFlurries around the world

You can try different McFlurry flavors than in the United States on your international travels, becoming an adventurous eater without straying too far from a familiar menu. For example, when you travel to South Africa, you can try new creations like the lime and chocolate twist McFlurry. According to Business Insider South Africa, the treat left a little something to be desired, as it tasted a bit manufactured. However, for a traveler, it could be interesting to taste it yourself and compare it to the treats your order back at home.

If you find yourself in the United Kingdom on a trip, there are also different McFlurry options for you to explore. Around Easter, the fast food chain runs a partnership with Cadbury, per the Independent. Those looking for something new can try a McFlurry with some Cadbury's Creme Egg mixed in. The milk chocolate topping with its smooth, creamy center is popular across many markets, including Australia, too. If you can't travel, it's possible to recreate the taste at home with a McDonald's soft serve cone and a few Cadbury's Creme Eggs broken up and mixed in.

The M&M's McFlurry was almost discontinued

In the United States, the M&M's McFlurry is one of the staples of the McDonald's menu. So, fans of the sweet treat will be horrified to learn that it was almost discontinued entirely. According to Reuters, M&M's are licensed to Mars, Inc., which is one of the biggest candy companies globally. As a candy company, Mars isn't likely the number one source consumers go to for health and nutrition information. However, executives stated they were unsure if having their candy, M&M's, associated with such a sugary product like the McFlurry was good for the Mars brand.

This is because eating M&M's with ice cream pushes consumers well over the recommended amount of daily sugar intake. The Mars brand is all about enjoyment in moderation, per Reuters. Because of this, the company nearly pulled the licensing agreement that allows McDonald's to use and resell the candy. Luckily, these conversations between food industry giants happened only behind closed doors. The license for McDonald's to use sweet mix-in options like M&M's and Oreos (owned by Nabisco) are not currently in danger.

Some people might be allergic to McFlurries

While it might be a bit sad to think about enjoying some ice cream and having an allergic reaction, that is the reality for some folks. According to McDonald's nutritional information, McFlurries are made with vanilla reduced-fat ice cream. Of course, this contains milk, so if you are sensitive to either dairy or lactose, you'll need to prepare before enjoying a McFlurry. If you are eating an Oreo McFlurry, the cookie pieces also contain traces of wheat and soy, which might upset your stomach. The regular size of an Oreo McFlurry clocks in at about 510 calories, per McDonald's.

The other most popular flavor is with M&M's candies added in. Allergen information includes milk from the ice cream used, as well as milk and soy from the M&M's candies. Something to be wary of, especially if you have an allergy to peanuts, is that M&M's are manufactured in a facility that also creates peanut and peanut butter candy, too. There is always the risk of cross-contamination, so if your allergy is particularly severe, it's probably best to stay away.

McDonald's sneakily updated the ice cream ingredients

If you have been eating McFlurries since they debuted in the '90s, you might have noticed something. Over the years, there has been a subtle shift in the flavor of ice cream. According to CNBC, the chain wanted to use fresher ingredients in all its desserts. So instead of using ice cream with artificial flavors, it made a switch. McDonald's lost more than 500 million regular customers between 2012 and 2017. Changing up the ingredients list to exclude artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives is part of a bigger plan by the company to win back diners with fresher, healthier options.

Luckily for McDonald's, the recipe change was done in a phase-by-phase plan, not all at once. However, no customers caught on that the ice cream had changed ingredients until the fast food giant officially announced it with a press release. This way, McDonald's was able to serve food that's still delicious, while being a tiny bit healthier, without having to deal with backlash on taste or texture. No one noticed at all, and we feel like McDonald's planned it this way.

There are several sizes to choose from

Before ordering a McFlurry, you need to decide just how hungry you are feeling. At most locations, there are three main McFlurry sizes to choose from: large, medium, and small. However, how these choices are labeled will depend on the country you are in. It also depends on how the team at that particular franchise location likes to run things. For example, you might choose between "regular" and "mini" or "snack size," according to The Donut Whole. The main difference is the amount of ice cream you get in each serving, as the weight of the mix-in toppings tends to stay the same. This will typically run you between an 8 and 12 oz. serving.

Remember when selecting your size that the ice cream used to make the dessert doesn't have as much of an impact on the overall calories. Rather, it's the mix-ins that determine most of the nutritional value. So by sizing up, you might actually be eating less, depending on the topping you choose.

Spice things up and add a sauce

McFlurries typically just come with a candy topping of your choice. However, a hack that most McDonald's fans don't know about it is that you can add a sauce, too. According to McDonald's Australia, adding together different mix-in options along with a sauce is the secret menu item you never knew you needed. If you choose Oreos, M&M's, plus a little bit of chocolate drizzle on top, the combination is known by superfans as a "Choc Fudge Crunch Cream." You can choose from chocolate fudge sauce, sweet caramel, or even a tasty strawberry puree to complete your dessert.

Something to think about, though, before you go crazy adding in all the sauces of your dreams, is that there might be a small upcharge for doing so. In the United Kingdom, diners are charged 20 pence for adding a second topping or a sauce to their treat, per METRO. While exchange rates can vary, this is roughly the same amount in the United States, as well, via BIN Search. Remember that some McDonald's are independently operated franchises, so the actual upcharge for adding sauce at your local spot might be a little bit different.

You can choose different candy toppings

The thing that sets McFlurries apart from all the competition is the delicious mix-ins you can add to your sweet treat. McDonald's has plenty of other ice cream-based desserts to choose from, like the hot fudge sundae or a milkshake. However, none of them come with candy, the figurative cherry on top. In the United States, you can choose from two main options: A McFlurry with Oreo cookies, or M&M's candy. The fast food giant has brand deals in place with both Mars, Inc. and Nabisco, which allow them to purchase food straight from the supplier. This way, McDonald's has permission to sell a product with the brand name cookies and candies attached to it. Abroad, you might be able to get more options like Kit Kats or chocolate shavings. 

There has been lots of debate over the years about which McFlurry is truly the best. Some think that the ice cream is a bit too cold for the M&M's as a topping. They are a bit tougher to chew as they freeze up, per The Mycenaen. However, true fans of the treat will know that if you really can't decide which topping to choose, you don't have to. At most locations, you can add both options in for a small upcharge, just like you would for the sauce.

You can even make McFlurries at home

Is the ice cream machine at your local McDonald's broken again? Whether you can't get a sweet treat because it's out of order, or you just prefer to save money eating at home, we have some good news for you. You can make a McFlurry that tastes almost exactly like the real thing at home. The recipe only has three ingredients and doesn't take too long to whip up. To start, gather up some plain vanilla ice cream, a sleeve of Oreo cookies, and some whole milk.

First, you will want to crush up about four Oreo cookies so they are in perfect bite-size bits. You can do this by putting them into a plastic bag and crunching them up with a kitchen utensil. Next, take the cookie bits and place them into a bowl with two cups of ice cream and 2 or 3 tablespoons of milk. Start mixing to ensure everything is folded in well together. Remember, the McFlurry gets its signature flurry texture from all the air added in the mixing process. So you will need to put in some real elbow grease to get the same results. If you feel tired, try mixing up the milk with the ice cream first. Then, add the Oreos after that.

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