To people who grew up dining at the fast food chain, many items at McDonald’s are familiar. You may have ordered a Big Mac or McNuggets on numerous occasions, but no matter how many times you’ve enjoyed a McFlurry, part of its design may puzzle you—namely that boxy, hollow spoon. Are you supposed to suck ice cream through it like a straw? And what is the plastic clip on the side used for? If you can’t crack the mysteries of the utensil, it’s because it wasn't designed that way for customers—it’s for the employees who prepare the treat.
According to Reader’s Digest, the special spoon that comes with your McFlurry doubles as a mixing tool. After dispensing the ice cream and adding toppings like Oreo crumbles or mini M&Ms, McDonald’s workers are supposed to blend the concoction together. They do this by inserting part of the McFlurry machine into the hollow straw and turning it on. The sturdy piece of plastic swirls around the cup like a mixer attachment, while the clip on the side holds it in place. To serve the frozen treat, employees simply pop it out of the appliance and give it to customers with the same spoon used to stir it.
The utensil’s dual purpose makes for a neat bit of trivia, but the question of why McDonald’s mixes their McFlurry treats this way remains. Though the sturdy implements likely cost more to produce than regular plastic spoons, they save the company time and money in the long run. If a McFlurry was mixed with a metal spoon permanently attached to the machine, that part would need to be cleaned between uses. Blending the ice cream with a disposable tool that customers can also use to eat it eliminates a few steps from the process and reduces the chance of contamination.
At least that was the intention when the McFlurry was introduced in the 1990s. There have been anecdotal reports of McFlurries arriving unmixed more often today than they did two decades ago, possibly due to overworked employees looking for ways to save time. So if your McFlurry comes with the candy or cookie pieces sitting on top of the ice cream unblended, that fancy spoon was likely never used for its true purpose. Given the temperamental state of McDonald’s ice cream machines, perhaps you should be grateful that you got a McFlurry at all.
[h/t Reader’s Digest]