McDonald’s soft-serve machines break down so often that a corner of the internet is awash in memes and videos about their unreliability. Enter Jeremy O’Sullivan and Melissa Nelson, two entrepreneurs who wanted to fix the broken machines. They thought they'd succeeded — until McDonald’s told its franchisees to stay away. This week we talk with Jeremy, Melissa, and Andy Greenberg, the Wired reporter who first broke this story of ice cream intrigue. (This is the first of two episodes featuring stories about McDonald’s. We’ll have more next week!)
This episode contains explicit language.
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- "Talk To Me Now (Instrumental)" by Hayley Briasco and Ken Brahmstedt
- "Silhouette" by Erick Anderson
- "Prowl" by Lance Conrad
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Photo courtesy of Andria/Flickr CC.
Dan Pashman: This episode contains explicit language.
Dan Pashman: A few weeks ago I called up Andy Greenberg. He’s a senior writer at WIRED, the tech magazine. He’s one of the country’s top cybersecurity reporters. He’s written books about Wikileaks, and cyberwarfare with Russia. His article about a successful hack of Jeeps led to 1.4 million cars being recalled. And when you do work like that, you get a lot of people coming out of the woodwork with stories they really think you should write about. And a lot of those stories are pretty hard to believe. So I asked him:
Dan Pashman: What's the most outlandish thing that anyone ever came to you with that turned out to be true?
Andy Greenberg: Oh man… [SIGHS] I can't actually think of a better one offhand than this story, than then Jeremy O’Sullivan and his whole McDonald's conspiracy theory.
Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies it’s for eaters, I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show we obsess about food to learn more about people. Today we’re kicking off a little series we’re calling “Three Nuggets About McDonald’s”, or should it be a 3-piece McStory. We couldn’t decide. Over the next two episodes we’ll be telling you— you guessed it— three stories about McDonald’s. One today, two next week. All right, let’s do it.
Dan Pashman: So, Andy Greenberg is this cybersecurity reporter and one day he gets a message from a guy named Jeremy O’Sullivan.
Andy Greenberg: He hooks me with this idea that there is a secret code in McDonald's ice cream machines and that, in fact, even the owners of those machines, the franchisees who buy them for eighteen thousand dollars and keep them behind the counter to make shakes and McFlurries and whatever, that they don't know the secret code and that that secret code is the only way to unlock a lot of the machines data, you know, like the real data that shows how they operate the viscosity of their ingredients, the temperature of the heating elements. That immediately hooks me, but he's already like in these initial text messages going further, and he he tells me, "We've learned some crazy secrets about these machines.", and I was sort of like, well, we’ll see.
Dan Pashman: Andy started doing some digging. He learned that Jeremy O’Sullivan and his girlfriend, Melissa Nelson, were themselves in the fast-food ice cream business.
Dan Pashman: The couple first met at Bucknell University in 2005. After they graduated, they both became accountants, accountants who happened to love frozen yogurt. This was around that time that all those fro-yo chains were popping up. Remember? There was Pinkberry, Red Mango, Tasti D’Lite, 16 Handles. It was a bona fide fad. But Melissa and Jeremy thought the business model for these places was inefficient. Here’s Melissa.
Melissa Nelson: So if you walk into a frozen yogurt store, it’s usually 1500 sq ft. And there’s usually about 6 to 8 soft serve machines. Then you have your toppings on another wall, there’s someone standing at the front of the house to check you out, but there’s a lot of wasted space. There are a lot of fixed costs that are unnecessary.
Jeremy O’Sullivan: And so we’re like, hmm...
Dan Pashman: Here’s Jeremy O'Sullivan:
Jeremy O’Sullivan: If we shrink the store and the experience around the machine, we can drop this machine into a mall. You know, this machine would become untethered if we could protect it and brand it.
Dan Pashman: Their business idea: A fro-yo vending machine. No cashier, no storefront. Just take a fro-yo machine and build a nice box around it. Add a touch screen and a credit card reader, and you’re selling the same product as the chains, with much lower costs. They decided to call their machine: Frobot.
Dan Pashman: It seemed like it could work. Just one thing, they just had to figure out how to build it. Step 1: Get a fro-yo machine to play with.
Melissa Nelson: And when we looked at the brands, the main manufacturer, the most popular was Taylor. Same exact brand that was in McDonald’s, Burger King, In-N-Out. So we purchased a used Taylor machine off of Craigslist and that’s how we got started.
Jeremy O’Sullivan: We bought it from Mr. Florida 1979.
[MELISSA NELSON LAUGHS]
Jeremy O’Sullivan: This guy owned a gym in Tampa, FL, and he bought a frozen yogurt machine for his gym.
Melissa Nelson: It was the C708, is that right?
Jeremy O’Sullivan: C706.
Dan Pashman: And do you remember how much it cost?
Jeremy O’Sullivan: It was like $4,000, $3,500, in that range.
Dan Pashman: Melissa and Jeremy were focused on fro-yo, but they learned that Taylor also makes machines that produce soft-serve, gelato, milkshakes. Taylor is one of the biggest names in the industrial creamy frozen treat industry. They distribute their machines all over the world.
Dan Pashman: Melissa and Jeremy went all in and quit their accounting jobs. After spending three years tinkering, and close to $50,000, they finally got a Frobot up and running.
Dan Pashman: So Melissa, do you remember the first time you ordered yourself a frozen yogurt from your very first Frobot?
Melissa Nelson: I do. I think the machine might have overheated but, yes. I do remember that. I think we served cookie butter first and it was excellent. I didn’t have a background in mechanical engineering or anything of that nature or software at the time. But we figured it out and we pieced it together. And we actually had a prototype that worked.
Jeremy O’Sullivan: It was exciting to see it work. When you’re bootstrapping something and you’re building something, and it’s this super expensive machine, when it did ultimately work, it was like, oh thank God!
Dan Pashman: Melissa and Jeremy say that the folks at Taylor, who make those ice cream and fro-yo machines, were supportive of the Frobot concept. They thought it could be a way for them to sell more machines. So Taylor loaned some units to Melissa and Jeremy to test out, and the couple bought several more outright. Jeremy and Melissa made more Frobot prototypes, refining the design.
Dan Pashman: They noticed the Taylor machines were temperamental, but they kept moving forward. They started working to get Frobots placed around the Bay Area, so they could test them in the wild, see how they’d hold up doing higher volume. They got two in a Tesla factory, and six at Levi’s Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play. That’s when those Taylor machines started giving them real problems.
Melissa Nelson: We just had so many issues keeping it operational. We experienced a lot of downtime.
Dan Pashman: Now, the thing you have to understand about these machines, they’re incredibly complicated, with hundreds of parts. And the user manual for one model, the diagrams and list of parts take up 27 pages. There are more than 30 o-rings— you know, those little rubber or plastic rings that make a seal— and in all different sizes. And because they’re serving up a dairy product, they have to be cleaned regularly. That means taking apart and reassembling the machine, and making sure each tiny part is in just the right place. If it’s not, the machine probably won’t work.
Melissa Nelson: You forget one o-ring, you’re out of business for the day.
Dan Pashman: Some of the Taylor machines also go through a pasteurization process every night. So everything inside, including the soft serve mix, heats up to 151 degrees, then cools back down to freezing. One worker, who was maintaining a Frobot at Tesla, forgot to replace one part in the tank before the pasteurization process started.
Melissa Nelson: And when you do that, the mix— when you forget that part, boils over. And so what would happen is, during the evening, the mix would go everywhere. And...
Dan Pashman: I’m picturing like a witch’s cauldron but filled with fro-yo.
Melissa Nelson: Exactly, something very similar, something disturbing.
Melissa Nelson: And when they would come in in the morning, open the door to the frobot, the machine was locked out, there was ice cream everywhere and it would just lead to the entire day being wasted.
Dan Pashman: As you can imagine for Melissa and Jeremy, these malfunctions were very frustrating. When they looked online, they realized they weren’t alone. Taylor ice cream machines were wreaking havoc across the country. And there was one model that seemed to be notorious, the C602, which Taylor only sells to McDonald’s. Here again is Wired reporter Andy Greenberg.
Andy Greenberg: Almost all of the McDonald's in America buy this one Taylor C602 machine. The Taylor machine breaks like all the time. I mean, to a almost absurd degree. I started just like Googling and searching Twitter. I was kind of overwhelmed, like I could not believe what a social media phenomenon this is. I mean, it is a meme, like it's a full blown meme, McDonald's ice cream machines being broken all the time.
Dan Pashman: You know it’s a meme when there’s an original TikTok song...
Dan Pashman: And tons of YouTube rants like this one...
CLIP (WOMAN): No matter what time of the day I go to McDonald's, the damn ice cream machine is broke. How?! How?! And it doesn't matter what location I go to, even to the white people's McDonald's in the nicer neighbourhood, the shit it broke.
Andy Greenberg: I mean, it has truly become a kind of shorthand for just frustration with with capitalism, frustration with technology, just frustration in daily life.
Dan Pashman: There’s even a website called Andy explains that it uses a bot that tries to place online orders for ice cream in every McDonald’s in the U.S., every 30 minutes. If McDoanld's online system won’t allow the bot to order ice cream, that means the machine there is down. Each location is mapped along with its status and updated in real time.
Andy Greenberg: And the numbers were kind of staggering. I mean, the overall number would fluctuate anywhere from like five to 16 percent, in the time that I was looking at this story. Yeah, I've seen as much as like thirty percent of all McDonald's ice cream machines in New York City being down at one time, which is just absurd.
Dan Pashman: And even it's to the point that McDonald's themselves have made fun of themselves on Twitter. They posted last year, "We have a joke about our ice cream machines, but we're not sure it'll work. Womp womp." Even they know.
Andy Greenberg: When I reached out to them about it, they didn't try to kind of deny that their machines are broken all the time. They just kind of apologized and said, we're working on it.
Dan Pashman: We reached out to McDonald’s to comment on this story. They told us that they want customers to be able to get soft serve “whenever the craving strikes,” and that there’s a dedicated team of people at McDonald’s trying to improve the ice cream machines’ performance.
Dan Pashman: But the fact that this machine breaks down all the time is only part of the problem. There’s a bigger issue, which is really at the crux of this story. The machine doesn’t just break a lot, it’s also very difficult to fix it on your own.
Andy Greenberg: A lot of these places, the manager does try to fix it or they have their own kind of technical person on staff, who maybe like oversees a whole collection of restaurants. But the fact is that Taylor doesn't make it easy.
Dan Pashman: So let’s say the daily pasteurization heat treatment fails and you want to try to fix it yourself. As Melissa and Jeremy learned, the machine won’t always tell you what’s wrong. First, to get even basic information, you need to enter a code.
Melissa Nelson: You need to open up a menu which requires multiple button presses and the buttons don't have names. So if you're not experienced, you wouldn't even know that, hey, I need to press the snowflake five times and hit the shake button to select. It's just too cryptic.
Dan Pashman: It sounds like— it's like video game code.
Melissa Nelson: Exactly.
Dan Pashman: Like, up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right. B-A-Start is like how you check the temperature.
Jeremy O’Sullivan: That's right. You need some, like, old school Street Fighter skills— you know, with the game controller to get in that menu.
Dan Pashman: Right. Right.
Dan Pashman: That basic code does come with the owner’s manual. But then there’s the secret code that first hooked Andy on this story. That's the code lets you access more detailed information about why your machine isn’t working. And this code isn't readily available to the machine’s owners. So the restaurant franchisees, who shelled out about 18 grand for the things, and who stand to lose hundreds or even thousands in sales when it breaks down? They don't have access to this code. The people who do? Taylor and their licensed distributors.
Andy Greenberg: Most of the time, the franchisees end up calling out the repair guy, who generally comes from a Taylor distributor, these sort of licensed approved companies that give Taylor a cut of the service fees that they charge the restaurant owners. So indirectly, Taylor is making a lot of money from the fact that their machines are broken all the time. In fact, that I've seen some numbers from Taylor that the 25 percent of their revenue at one point came from maintenance.
Dan Pashman: We reached out to Taylor and its parent company, Middleby, with a long list of questions for this story, but they didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. Like the franchise owners, Jeremy and Melissa often found themselves having to call Taylor technicians to repair their machines.
Melissa Nelson: We experienced this over and over and over again, and it was costly. So that’s when our focus shifted. We realized we had to— we had to do something to the ice cream machine so that we actually had a functioning, operational business.
Dan Pashman: Melissa and Jeremy bought little cameras and put them inside the Frobot so they could see what was going on. According to Melissa, Taylor knew the company was working on hacks like this to improve the performance of the Frobot.
Melissa Nelson: So we had emailed them, asking hey do you have any method for us to monitor these machines remotely and they said, no. We asked a few more questions and they said, "You can go ahead and proceed with this, but we just can’t help you."
Dan Pashman: Jeremy and Melissa built a device and wrote code that allowed them to monitor the Taylor machine’s activity and access that hidden data about how it was running. If there was an issue in the machine, the device would send an alert to an app on their phone to let them know, and let them control the fro-yo machine remotely to fix the problem. It could even detect and fix some issues in advance, preventing costly shut downs.
Dan Pashman: Eventually, Melissa and Jeremy realized something. This connected device, on its own, had the potential to be way bigger than Frobot. I mean, they had eight Frobots, but there are 13,000 McDonald’s franchises out there, not to mention all the other fast food places that use other Taylor machines.
Dan Pashman: So they made a big decision. They abandoned Frobot. In 2019, they launched their ice cream machine device as a stand alone product called Kytch.
Melissa Nelson: We started approaching people on LinkedIn. We started driving to restaurants and approaching the staff there. And slowly we were building a customer base. And once we went to these trade shows for Burger King and McDonald’s, it really took off from there. Hundreds of devices were going out the door.
Dan Pashman: Andy Greenberg confirms that Kytch was a hit.
Andy Greenberg: I spoke to a bunch of franchisees. They loved it. I mean, one McDonald's restaurant owner described to me how one of their restaurants just had an ice cream machine that was just down constantly, like multiple times a month, I think. And after he got Kytch, it was only when he figured out that it was just that, like some McDonald's employee was just putting, like, a little too much of the dairy mixture into one of the hoppers. And just like an inch or two too much of that mixture was enough to cause the heat treatment to fail. Kytch detected that and fixed it. Now the guy is like kind of obsessed with Kytch. And he tells me that every morning at five thirty a.m., the first thing he does when he wakes up is like, look at his Kytch readings remotely for all of his restaurants.
Dan Pashman: As we mentioned, Jeremy and Melissa say they had a good relationship with Taylor. Taylor had been supportive of Frobot, and the company knew the couple was developing this device that would go in their machines and allow remote control, to make Frobot work better.
Dan Pashman: But when Melissa and Jeremy started selling Kytch on its own, directly to restaurant franchisee, that’s when they say their relationship with Taylor changed. They started to suspect that Taylor was trying to get their hands on a Kytch and that they’d enlisted private investigators to help.
Andy Greenberg: And that's kind of the time when it's like, oh, yeah, this is like explicitly things have gone bad.
Dan Pashman: Coming up, Melissa turns into an investigator herself. Stick around.
+++ BREAK +++
Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. As we know, when human beings come together, food is often a big part of the gathering. So why should prison be any different? In last week’s show I talk with Gustavo Alvarez, author of Prison Ramen: Stories and Recipes from Behind Bars, which is based on his own experience being incarcerated. One of the recipes he shares with me is a drink called a “cadillac.”
Gustavo Alvarez: The way we make it in there is we use a Milky Way bar, and we put it inside the coffee, with the cream and sugar. The coffee has to be nice and scorching hot in order for the Milky Way to dissolve. And you stir it till it dissolves to a foamy kind of espresso or cappuccino kind of way. It's so good.
Dan Pashman: Plus, hear the dramatic story of how a bowl of ramen saved Goose’s life. That one’s up now, check it out.
Dan Pashman: Okay. Back to our story. With their pivot to their ice cream machine hacking device Kytch, Jeremy and Melissa thought they were really on to something. But the move seemed to be affecting their relationship with Taylor. One of their first orders for a Kytch actually came from Taylor. Before they fulfilled the order, Melissa and Jeremy say they messaged Taylor to ask what they planned to do with it. The couple say Taylor never responded, so they cancelled the order. Then more strange orders started coming in.
Melissa Nelson: It was the summer of 2019. We were getting a bunch of orders that were being shipped to home addresses.
Dan Pashman: Typical buyers would have the device sent to a restaurant. Melissa says she looked into who lived at the addresses on those orders and the names on the public records for those properties didn’t match the names on the orders. She believed that meant the orders were placed with fake names. But when she looked up the names actually connected with the addresses—
Melissa Nelson: If I look for LinkedIn, I see someone with that name, who owns this property claiming that they work at marksmen, which is a IP investigative firm.
Dan Pashman: Why didn’t you want Taylor to get their hands on a Kytch?
Melissa Nelson: The way they approached it, right? If they had responded to our email and said, hey, here’s why we went onto your website to order and didn’t contact you. I mean, they had chatted with us on multiple occasions. We shook hands. They had our cell phone numbers. It didn’t sit right with us. And then when the private investigators came along, and then when their attorney, prior to that, tried to order one, it seemed like their intentions were not proper.
Dan Pashman: Melissa and Jeremy were concerned Taylor would try to use the technology in Kytch without the couple’s permission, to create their own version of the device. Despite these worries, things were going really well for Kytch. Their sales were doubling every quarter. Then they got their big break, when they heard from a guy named Tyler Gamble. He’s the head of the equipment team for the National Supply Leadership Council. It's an influential group of McDonald’s franchisees. He wanted to try Kytch in his restaurants. If he liked it and started spreading the word about it, that would be huge.
Dan Pashman: Melissa and Jeremy sent Tyler Gamble four Kytch devices to try out. Reporter Andy Greenberg says just a few months later...
Andy Greenberg: He goes off to the McDonald's franchisee conference and proceeds to give this, like, minute-long infomercial for Kytch, where he really recommends it. Jeremy and Mellissa are at this conference. They're sitting at their sales booth watching the stream of this speech, live.
Jeremy O'Sullivan: We're ecstatic. We were really happy. We were like, for this awesome kind of review and nod from from Tyler Gamble. We thought, OK, we're going to be in every McDonald's. It's only a matter of months, now. And it was super exciting.
Andy Greenberg: It's just after that that the ax falls.
Andy Greenberg: Just shortly after McDonald's sends an email out to, I believe, every franchisee that says more or less don't use Kytch, it will void the warranty on your Taylor ice cream machine. It breaches the confidential information on the machine. And they don't mean the restaurant owner’s confidential information or the customer's information. They mean Taylor's confidential information on the machine that restaurant owners bought from Taylor. And then the kind of kicker is that it can cause serious human injury to technicians or staff in the restaurant. This is a kind of like a one-two punch deathblow to Kytch. I mean, the McDonald's franchisees listen to McDonald's Corporation. They know that they're basically dependent on McDonald's, the company, for their livelihoods. So they listen.
Dan Pashman: The email ends with a bold, italic warning: “McDonald’s strongly recommends that you remove the Kytch device from all machines and discontinue use.”
Melissa Nelson: That's when we started losing customers. The opportunity for growth and McDonald's completely was decimated. So everything was going well until that point.
Dan Pashman: We asked McDonald’s USA if they were aware of any incidents in which Kytch had caused physical harm. They didn’t provide any examples, but say they’re concerned that Kytch’s remote operation feature has the potential to injure someone, since it could turn the ice cream machine on while someone else is cleaning, operating, or repairing it. I asked Jeremy and Melissa:
Dan Pashman: As far as you now, has that ever happened as far as you know?
Jeremy O’Sullivan and Melissa Nelson: No.
Dan Pashman: Has anyone ever been hurt because of Kytch to the best of your knowledge?
Melissa Nelson: We have zero reported cases of anyone ever being injured because of Kytch. Our machine is certified by Intertek to U.S. standards. And when you're performing any work on any type of machinery, step one, unplug the equipment.
Dan Pashman: The day after this email from McDonald’s went out, Taylor announced that they were coming out with their own device, to be installed in their ice cream machines, called Taylor Shake Sundae Connectivity. It sounded very similar to Kytch.
Dan Pashman: In their statement to us, McDonald’s USA said they are, “testing a smart technology that sends real-time texts when the machines aren’t working properly, so they can be fixed ASAP. We're committed to getting this right for our customers.” They did not confirm whether or not this was the Taylor Shake Sundae Connectivity and they did not respond to a question about how long this smart technology has been in development.
Dan Pashman: Jeremy and Melissa were convinced that Taylor had gotten their hands on a Kytch, and used it to make their own version. Melissa started digging through Kytch records, and soon zeroed in on one of Tyler Gamble’s Kytch devices. Remember Tyler is the guy from that influential franchisee group, the one who gave Kytch that great endorsement on stage.
Melissa Nelson: One of his Kytch devices went off line for about an eight-month period, and he had said that his machine was in the shop. He told us that the device was still attached to the machine, and it was at the Taylor distributor. We noticed that a user that Tyler had invited named Matt Wilson. We looked into his login information and we noticed that the IP addresses overlaid with the locations of this Taylor distributor, TFG.
Dan Pashman: So Tyler had added Matt Wilson as a user on his Kytch account?
Melissa Nelson: Exactly.
Dan Pashman: And then you traced Matt Wilson and discovered that he— it seems like he has a connection to Taylor distributors.
Melissa: It turns out that Matt Wilson is actually Blaine Martin, the owner of TFG.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS] He sounds like— all the names, I've heard so far, sound like fake names.
Melissa Nelson: Yup.
Dan Pashman: So but Tyler Gamble and Blaine Martin, those are real people. Matt Wilson is the fake person.
Melissa Nelson: That’s correct.
Dan Pashman: So Matt Wilson turns out to be Blaine Martin.
Melissa Nelson: Yes.
Dan Pashman: Who is what now?
Melissa Nelson: He is the owner of TFG, which is a large Taylor distributor.
Dan Pashman: And how are you able to confirm that Matt Wilson was Blaine Martin?
Melissa Nelson: Because the cell phone number listed on his Kytch account is the same phone number on Blaine Martin's business card.
Dan Pashman: Which you have?
Melissa Nelson: Yes.
Dan Pashman: When you connect those dots. What was that moment?
Melissa Nelson: I mean, it was shocking. It was disturbing. We had met him before. You know, we shook hands. So I recall, Jeremy was a bit nauseous at the time because, you know, you can't believe that this is even happening. I mean, it's unreal.
Dan Pashman: Did you guys have one of those walls in your room with all the thumbtacks and the strings attached to them?
Melissa Nelson: You know, we did.
Jeremy O’Sullivan: You have no idea. Yeah, we're—
Dan Pashman: Really? Did you?
Melissa Nelson: Yeah. We put everything up on the wall and tried to piece it together.
Dan Pashman: Oh, my God.
Jeremy O'Sullivan: There's yarn everywhere.
Jeremy O'Sullivan: They underestimated Melissa's Sherlock Holmes ability. I mean, Melissa, ate private investigators for lunch.
Dan Pashman: At any point, Melissa, did you use the phrase, "I've hacked into the mainframe."
Dan Pashman: If I were you, I would say that once in a while, even if it's not true. It just sounds really cool.
Melissa Nelson: I'll use that this week.
Dan Pashman: All right, good.
Dan Pashman: We reached out to Blaine Martin, whose title is managing partner of TFG. He declined to comment due to ongoing litigation. That's because a few weeks ago, Jeremy and Melissa did file a lawsuit against Tyler Gamble, the Taylor distributor, TFG, where Blaine Martin works, and Taylor, itself. According to the suit, Tyler Gamble signed Kytch’s user agreement which prohibits sharing any of the device’s proprietary information. The suit alleges, he did just that, and that these companies acquired and used Kytch’s trade secrets without permission.
Dan Pashman: We also reached out to Tyler Gamble, but he didn’t respond to our requests for comment. Reporter Andy Greenberg did get one email from Tyler early on, before the lawsuit, in which Tyler said he saw himself as, “Kytch’s biggest advocate.”
Dan Pashman: Even after all this, there was still one issue I wanted to clarify with Melissa and Jeremy.
Dan Pashman: So you’re suing Taylor because you’re alleging that they got a hold of your technology improperly and are using your trade secrets. But is there a way in which you kind of did the same thing with the Taylor machines? You got the machines or got ahold of the machines under the pretense of doing Frobot. Then used the machines to build your own device that hacks into the Taylor machines. So is there a way in which you’re doing the same thing you’re accusing them of doing?
Melissa Nelson: Well they provided permission for us to do what we were doing. And also, all of our customers do sign a trial agreement and they also agree to the terms on our website, which state that they will not share our trade secrets and that they certainly would not give a physical device to a competitor. But that's not the case when you purchase a Taylor machine. There is no terms of service.
Dan Pashman: But in that sense, the permission that they gave you was to hack into their machines for a specific purpose, which is one that they were on board with, which was Frobot. And then when your business became dangerous to them, to their business model, that’s different from what they gave you permission for.
Melissa Nelson: Same software, same product. One’s just not sold with an expensive metal enclosure.
Dan Pashman: OK. So in your eyes, that was not any kind of breach on your part?
Melissa Nelson: Certainly not.
Dan Pashman: McDonald’s says they’re testing their new technology in several dozen restaurants in the U.S., and they expect to have it available nationwide in the coming months.
Dan Pashman: As for Kytch? It’s still being used in a few hundred restaurants, most of which are McDonald’s. And they’re hoping to build an entire line of connected appliances for commercial kitchens.
Jeremy O’Sullivan: Our goal was to fix the ice cream machine and we did fix the ice cream machine.
Dan Pashman: They just happened to be making a fix for a company that didn't want their solution.
Jeremy O’Sullivan: And so you can create the best kind of modern, futuristic kitchen but if someone doesn’t want it, then it might be too hard to change.
Dan Pashman: Next week on the show, we’re continuing our McDonald’s theme when I talk with Professor Marcia Chatelain, author of the book Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America. While you wait for that one, check out last week’s show about a giant garbage bag full of ramen that saved one incarcerated man’s life.