Sonic, America's Drive In Or Epic Conspiracy?Nicole Paulhus

It all started one lazy Sunday afternoon with my college roommates. We were watching SoapNet Happy Hour and recovering from the previous night’s shenanigans. The absolute last thing on our minds was food. That was, until it happened… the Sonic commercial. We had seen fast food commercials before. However, this one was different. Something about the fast paced fried food montage and playful banter got to us. The jalapeño strips, the onion rings and don’t even get me started on the chili cheese fries. We wanted, nay, needed Sonic and we needed it ASAP.

Our dreams were crushed by discovery that the nearest Sonic was 70 miles away, but our hunger remained. We found ourselves constantly slipping Sonic into everyday conversation. We, to our surprise, could not find a single person who had eaten at a Sonic. After winter break we reconvened, each having failed to find a Sonic near our hometown. Something was sketchy about this Sonic thing. What kind of food chain can afford expensive national advertisements with so few locations? It was simple. Sonic did not exist. Every once in a while someone would report having “eaten at Sonic,” which only meant one thing… brainwashing. They were brainwashing people in order to perpetuate the lie! We couldn’t believe how deep this thing went. What once had been a simple hankering for hamburgers had landed us in the middle of an epic conspiracy.

I graduated, moved to California and continued to spread The Sonic Conspiracy Theory. Then… the unthinkable happened. I was kidnapped under pretense of country line-dancing and driven forty-minutes down a dark highway. When the car finally stopped I looked out my window and there it was with its drive-in stations and roller skating waiters… Sonic, America’s Drive-In. They got to me. I didn’t even see it coming! I was brainwashed. Though, it makes sense I guess. I was getting too close, starting to become a threat. Well, nice try you silly fake fast food chain. I laugh in the face of your tricky mind games. I will persevere, continue to dig and find out what’s really going on with Sonic once and for all! Though to be fair, I must admit the food, while an illusion, was pretty fantastic. The tots were unreal. Really though… they weren’t real.

Falsified document.

Image via mollyerdman


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  1. I watched Sonic commercials for at least 3 years before actually finding one on a vacation in Tennessee. Finding it made my night, along with the cream slush I ordered. It was another 4 years before one was built anywhere close to where I live. It´s now a constant temptation.

  2. This happened to me too only it wasn’t Sonic it was Long John Silvers. I’d see the commercial everyday and the closest one was in the next state.

  3. I felt like that about the Piggly Wiggly. I’d never seen one (I always thought they were only in movies) then they put one into the old IGA less then a mile from my parents house. As for Sonic- I live in Oklahoma where the company is based. There is one about every 3 to 5 miles out here.

  4. Hahaha, this cracked me up! We just got one a half an hour form my house. The thought of driving a half an hour for fast food is nuts, but you had those tots.. it’s crazy what people will do for Sonic!

  5. Sonic is one of the things I miss MOST since moving to LA. I grew up on it and now anytime I see a commercial, or even a white cup with a red straw, I’m reminded of what I can no longer have… :-(

  6. this is because it is sometimes cheaper to pay for national advertising then pay for a few select areas! I too once drove many miles to sonic only to have them get my order wrong three times and overcharge me. lame.

    Anonymous | 11/17/2011 09:11 am
  7. I live in the South and we definitely have an abundance of sonics. It would take my 5 minutes to walk to the on by my house! lol

  8. There are at least 12 sonics in my native land of utah all within 20 miles of my home. I hate this place. I cannot pass one without verbally expressing my desire to vomit. I too think there is a conspiracy surrounding this place. The conspiracy is that their food is delicious and served to you by cheerful ladies with fanny packs filled with coins. The reality is that you will receive your meal from what I will describe as a shady fellow who’s age is a mystery shrouded in a very thick beard. He wears no skates and has not mastered any language. The food is clearly made out of beard hairs and sadness. I will however not deny the delight that is their ice.

  9. This is like Dairy Queen in north central Texas. Advertisements everywhere, but no location to be found. :-(

    • Ugh, it’s the same case on Long Island! So many DQ commercials, but no DQ. I felt so deprived, until I went to college and realized that other parts of the contry don’t have garlic knots, rainbow cookies, or real pizza.

  10. Sonic ice. period.

  11. My college roommates and I also thought it was an illusion, so much that we had to take a detour in Virginia on our spring break road trip so we could be sure it was real. Then I moved to the south and it all became a little mundane- though I still love their 1/2 priced drinks at “happy hour”

  12. Gosh, there are 15 or more in my small city in Texas! I would gladly send some of them away to where ever you guys are from!

  13. I work at a Sonic in Michigan… I know all about the illusion haha. And the awful sore feet that come from rollerskating for hours and hours!

  14. There are a ton of Sonics in Arizona! My boyfriend and I go at least 4 times a week for drinks as.. it is TEH Ultimate Drink Stop. No joke. I should own a part of the company by now.

  15. I think I know the sonic you are talking about! It’s across from In cahoots in fullerton/anaheim! I moved to socal from arkansas where there is a sonic in just about every town. It took me years to find this gem! Now they have one on the border of santa ana/costa mesa and mission viejo!!!

    • It was the one in Duarte near San Dimas. Come to think of it, it makes perfect sense that it was located next to a country line dancing bar from the sounds of it they’re only located in more rural areas!

      Nicole Paulhus | 11/15/2011 05:11 pm
  16. For years living on the east coast (Miami, FLA) I watched Sonic comercials and never saw one or knew anyone who ate at one. When I met a boy and moved out west (San Diego, CA), I still hadn’t seen one. Some friends actually told us that they would regularly drive to YUMA AZ just to hit the sonic drive through. This seemed at once ridiculous and evocative. Was it possible that there was a fast food so wonderful that otherwise sane people would drive 4 hours out of their way just to experience it? I had eaten at the infamous In N Out Burger, pretty good, but definitely not something I’d hike it across state lines for. Well, last year a Sonic opened about 20 minutes from me. From day one, the line stretched around the block. This is not an exageration – people literally lined up for hours in their car and took numbers just for the priveledge of slushy drinks and fast food. By the time I finally got the opportunity to go, my anticipation had lifted to what I assumed were unrealistic expectations. Truth is, I wasn’t much disappointed. Their union rings are akin to those you’d get in a decent restuarant that specializes in those sorts of things, not the dried out sad things you typically get in fast food. The tater tots are.. tots. Familiar and yummy, but not unusual. .. .but the drinks! Everything from vanilla Coke to blue cherry limeade, all in a giant styrofoam glass filled with slushy ice. Awesome. Nowadays, Sonic is a rare treat (a girl can have only so much deep fried foods and sugary syrup drinks). I actually had it after a late, somewhat drunken night with my now husband. Still good. Worth the elusive wait.

  17. as a LA native, i too was subjected to the false promise of tater tots and slushies that the sonic commercials gave me. my friends and i took to calling sonic the ‘unicorn of fast food’ glad to know we’re not alone!!

  18. i experience the same thing growing up on the east coast. when i moved to NM, sonics abound. the blue powerade slush is the best hangover cure i know of (other than my hangover soup). the tater tots are good, too, but i always get a little bit sick when i eat there.

  19. I have heard of them, but neeeeeever seen one! Hahahaha!

  20. I am a sonic addict! I love that place. Their oreo blizzards are ten thousand times better than dq