I love Sonic. Every time their ads come on TV, I find myself drooling at the unique food and drink combinations advertised as part of their extensive menu. Fresh fruit limeades? Tater tots with cheese? Sandwiches served on Texas Toast? Delicious. Sign me up.

There’s just one problem with my “loving” Sonic: I’ve never actually eaten at one. In fact, I swear to you, I don’t think I’ve ever actually even SEEN a Sonic. For me, they are the Abominable Snowman of the fast food world – each passing glimpse or rumor I hear tempts me to pursue this elusive fast food beast. But no matter how much grainy Sonic video footage I see or reports I receive of where the nearest Sonic is, I never actually get close enough to one for it to be in my grasp.

No big deal right? There are hundreds, if not thousands of regional chains that I have never even heard of, that I’m also missing out on. But here’s the difference: THOSE CHAINS ARE NOT ADVERTISING ON NATIONAL TV. Each and every Sonic ad I see on TV is like a miniature punch to the balls from a hyper active 4 year old. It’s as if Sonic corporation themselves are saying to me, “Hey Jon, doesn’t this look good? It does, doesn’t it? Well good luck finding one! Hahahahaha.”

How dare you Sonic. And for those who think I am a Johnny Come Lately to the Sonic curiousity/anger train, quite the contrary. This has been a serious issue for me since about age 12. I grew up in Vermont, about 90 minutes from the Canadian border, and remember seeing Sonic ads as a kid. All through my childhood, I assumed Sonic was a Canadian chain. How else to explain the fact that I always saw their ads but had never actually been to one?

So where are these elusive Sonics? Well a map from their website shows they are heavily concentrated in the South and Southwest.

Notice anything about the map that jumps out? How about the fact that there are ZERO Sonic’s, even to this day, anywhere in New England or New York? WTF Sonic? Why are you advertising in New York or New England if you don’t have any stores there? Even now, living in Washington, DC, I am bombarded with your ads, but lacking a car to get far enough out to the suburbs, I STILL haven’t even been able to try Sonic.

Trust me, my desire to try Sonic is not for a lack of effort. In 2003, my girlfriend at the time and I drove cross country. From New York to Chicago to Kansas City then to Los Angeles. Sonic was very much top of mind on that trip – if I had noticed one anywhere near a meal time, I planned on being all over it. Surely on a cross country drive I stumbled across a Sonic while hungry right? Well, on the leg of the trip from Saratoga to Chicago, no Sonics.

From Chicago to Kansas City, there are 7 Sonic’s, mostly concentrated around KC. But did I manage to see any of them? Nope.

Kansas City to the Grand Canyon turns out to be a treasure trove of Sonics, but once again, I noticed none.

So yeah. 10 years of tempting ads, a cross country drive and still no Sonic for me. And for those of you wondering, yes, I did take the time to plug the results from the Sonic store locater into Mapquest. Um, yeah, because I’m just THAT into bitching about Sonic. You have no idea the mental anguish this has caused me over the years. I want to roll into a Sonic and order every single item on the menu, stuff my face, and roll up to the window to order more.

Sonic! Why must you torture me so? When you started advertising your tater tots with chili and cheese, it was if every time I turned on the television I was being waterboarded by Sonic. Have you no sense of decency Sonic? Isn’t showing these ads to people who can’t find a Sonic a blatant violation of the Geneva Convention against torture? Doesn’t the constitution prevent cruel and unusual punishment?

To make things worse, your witty commercials featuring improv-ed banter between two people in a car are actually GOOD ads! Arrgggggggh! Good ads, delicious menu and I still haven’t been able to try you!

Here’s the deal Sonic: I’m not asking you to stop making delicious burgers or asking your food scientists to stop making interesting creations. Goodness no. From all appearances, you are doing the Lord’s work over there. But please, there are tens of thousands of people out there just like me, and I am speaking on their behalf, as their voice: STOP RUNNING NATIONAL ADS. Until there is a Sonic readily available to each and every person, north, south, east and west, it is simply un-American for you to torture people by running commercials in regions where there are no Sonics.

So Sonic, unless you want to send a professional car service to take me the 30 or 40 miles to the closest Sonic to me in Virginia, I beg of you: end the torture. END THE TORTURE NOW. Stop running national ads, at least on a temporary basis, until I get a chance to finally sample your delicious menu.

Sincerely,

Committee to End National Sonic Advertising Until Eick Has Been to One (CENSA UEHBO)

62 Responses

  1. Victoria

    Heehee! This is so great to read. Why?
    Because the exact same thing happened to me.
    :)
    Sonic began advertising on our local Pittsburgh channels really heavily a few years ago. It drove my family nuts. As you did, we mapquested the crap out of the nearest Sonic loations hundreds of miles away. We were defeated. It was tragic.
    But then, all of a sudden, they just began springing up quick as can be all around the city. Now we have two locations, one of which being a half mile away from my work. We frequent the happy hour for half price slushes. :)
    So don’t fret, dearest. A Sonic is surely in your sights!

    Reply
  2. Lemmonex

    Before I even read this, I looked at the photo and thought “Is that a burger? On TEXAS TOAST? Sign me up!” Eerie.

    My friends are also obsessed with driving to Sonic to get some cheesy tot goodness. many a drunken conversation has lead to us contemplating a road trip.

    Reply
  3. William Murray

    There’s a Sonic on the way to Ocean City (or maybe it was Dewey Beach). All I know is we made a point of stopping on the way there and back, but it wasn’t really out of the way or anything.

    Reply
  4. Toby

    HOLY CRAP, I could not agree with you more on this one! I absolutely love their commercials – I’ll often pause the fast-forward on my TiVo to watch them – and their food seems equally amazing.

    Now, I did happen to eat at a Sonic ONE TIME while driving back from the Outer Banks. It’s on the main road to OBX – you can’t miss it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know enough about the chain to really appreciate that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Failing to order a Sonic Blast has been my life’s greatest regret.

    Reply
  5. Zenne

    I didn’t realize that Sonics were so coveted, having grown up in Texas.

    There are approximately nine locations within twenty minutes of where I sit! The closest one is a one-two minute drive. Tops.

    Reply
  6. Jeffrey

    coming from new york, and living in phila, I feel your pain. the sonic ads are always on tv, always when you’re hungry and always when there isn’t a single sonic within a 1 hour drive. Wouldn’t they save money by only advertising in the markets in which they are visible?

    Reply
  7. Youppi

    you’ve nailed it again, eick! commercials are good, food looks good. probably see a commercial for sonic multiple times, daily. the closest sonic to me? over 60 miles away.

    but I long to try the new “fried ice cream blast”…

    sounds soooooooooooooooooo good.

    Reply
  8. leisha

    what about the ocean water “cool, blue and tangy with a hint of coconut” mmmmmm.

    Reply
  9. Mattraw

    Well, I’m from Tennessee, so I’ve been to Sonic. A number of times. Its closest relative is probably the DQ of yore, where they made suspect chicken sandwiches in addition to Blizzards and whatnot.

    Anyway, the ice cream/dessert stuff is pretty solid, and there are lots of options. The foodstuffs are pretty unremarkable, but huge points for featuring a grilled cheese sandwich. Such a simple thing, I’m surprised no other fast food chains have jumped on it.

    Reply
  10. steve

    Maybe it’s just because I grew up with Sonics everywhere around me (I’m from the South), but I find those commercials insufferable. They’re almost bad enough to make me NOT want to eat Sonic (but that’d just be silly). I’ll settle for just wanting to punch those car people in the goddamn face.

    Reply
  11. Christine

    OMG- I’VE HAD THIS SAME CONVERSATION LIKE 100 TIMES! haha My dad text me the other day (a big feat for him) to say “Wildwood, NJ. Sonic Now Open. Yeay!” We can’t wait to go. After all of their ads, their food better be amazing. I’ll report back!

    Reply
  12. Amen!

    Oh my, those commercials….and the nearest one to me is 30 miles away, and it’s unlikely ever to be in my normal path, or even on vacation, I’m with you, quit torturing us with those commercials or get some stores open in my neighborhood!!!!!!!

    Reply
  13. BS

    GOOD CALL. I have loved sonic since their “don’t bring that weak tot action” ad during the NCAA basketball tournament. I live in NYC and have never seen one either.
    where are they???

    Reply
  14. Saj

    Dude, there’s on in Christiansburg, VA…come down for a Tech game, and we’ll hit it up!!

    Until then, there’s always that Checkers in NE DC…But, it’s just not the same.

    Reply
  15. dani

    We should start a petition. I’m in Northern/Central NJ and the closest Sonic to me is 45 miles away. Those commericials piss me off. Damn you Sonic for making me hungry.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    I’m waiting for the follow-up. The detailed response for when you actually experience a Sonic.

    Reply
  17. Drew

    Well that’s what you call superb (but evil) marketing.
    They advertise in places where the restaurants aren’t at so that people start demanding one in their location.
    By the way, There’s none in Wisconsin, but I went to the one(s) in South Dakota and their one burger that’s topped with an onion ring is FANTASTIC

    Reply
  18. Eick

    Anonymous, I’m all for the follow-up once I experience Sonic.

    Sonic, what say you? Hire a driver to take me to a Sonic, film me eating at a Sonic for the first time, and bam, you’ve got yourself an awesome web video/TV ad.

    Reply
  19. Capital Spice

    It took a trip from DC to Colorado, but I finally got to experience the glory that is Sonic this past weekend.

    It was just about as good as I had hoped – Elizabeth tried the Cherry Limeade, leaving me a bit flustered as I stared at the countless combinations of beverages to figure out what I would get. Finally I settled on a Lemon Berry Slush. We paired them up with an order of cheddar cheese tots – good, but they didn’t blow us away.

    And now I can finally say that I’ve been to a Sonic. I’m kinda glad they’re not all that close to DC – I could see myself making semi-regular trips if they were.

    Reply
  20. Snarling Coyote

    I once lived in New England. DH and I used to discuss Sonic with longing. When we visited family, we insisted on making a trip or two or three to Sonic. Cherry Slush. Cherry Limeaide. Diet Cherry Limeaide.

    Footlong hotdog. #2 burger.

    Tots.

    Now I live with a Sonic about 3 minutes away from my home and about 3 minutes away from my work.

    Life is good. (And yes, I still LOVE their grilled cheese sandwiches. Also, you can tip Sonic workers.)

    Reply
  21. Katy

    Sonic tortures me with their ads as well. I moved from Mississippi to New York 5 years ago and the first time I saw an ad I thought, could it be? Could there be a Sonic in Times Square? Coney Island? Why not?
    One of Sonic’s “signature” treats was the Frito Chili Pie but now they only offer a Frito Chili Pie WRAP…I guess the tortilla makes it a healthy lunch option…but I eat it all the same everytime I go down South!

    Reply
  22. In Denver

    Now I feel guilty because I live just a block from a Sonic and I have never been there.

    Reply
  23. Me

    This was too funny…and so so true! I feel the exact same way every time I see a Sonic ad! (Also, A+ for your writing style.)

    Reply
  24. Jes

    For the record, I am from CT and I feel exactly the same… hence why my friends and I two days ago decided to take a road trip to Pennsylvania to find a Sonic.

    I wrote about it in my blog (link above)- it was totally worth it.

    Reply
  25. Joe Money

    I feel your pain. I live in Maryland, which is suspiciously being avoided in the developing markets, and I see those damn ads whenever I watch T.V. I’ll even see ads for Jack in the Box on Comedy Central, and they’re on the other side of the country! WTF?

    Reply
  26. Megan

    The reason that we are all tourtured with Sonic commericals is because its cheaper to advertise nationally. Dave and Busters or whatever is also advertised nationally which is why I get to hear about how fun it is…and never actually been near one. and I wont lie I signed up for a trip to go to Tennesse partially because I knew it would bring me by a sonic’s. haha.

    Reply
  27. KC

    It’s cheaper to buy ad space nationally than regionally when you’re as big as they are. And I say that even as I curse them for reminding me daily what I missing out on my moving north!

    Reply
  28. Sarah

    We just got one of these, but it’s so far away that I can’t get to it. Thank god the college I’m going to next year has not only one, but TWO Sonics in town!

    Reply
  29. Melissa

    I’m from Boston and too many times this exact blog has been discussed with friends and classmates. My friend and I just planned a Spring Break road-trip and we basically MapQuested Sonics in the states we plan on hitting and those will be our stops! I’m counting down the days until I finally get to taste the elusive Sonic goodness.

    Reply
  30. diane

    omg I feel the same way like all the other thousands of people who’ve seen the commercials to find out there is no sonic near them. The closest sonic to me is like an hour away! I’ve been to sonic only once and that was vacationing in las vegas. I think they should definitely build more become starbucks or something

    Reply
  31. Joeyshmoey

    The thing is, Sonic is really a southern chain.
    like you don’t have sonic, we dont have white castle.
    if you reallly want sonic, come to texas.

    Reply
  32. Rachel

    ah don’t bother wasting your time drooling over sonic. its disgusting! i live in the south and all my friends and family love it, but i swear i get food poisioning every time i order something other than french fries and a drink

    Reply
  33. Miles

    The name Sonic always makes me think of a Gas Station with food. Like Sheetz. No longer.

    Reply
  34. Amanda

    You know Sonic’s food is pretty mediocre at best. The drinks are great as are the desserts. The burgers are not very good at all. I do like the tots tho.

    Reply
  35. Jessica

    I have never thought about this before. I am always really upset because of our lack of White Castle and Red Robin, but we have Sonic! I can’t remember a time without Sonic. I have a special card that gives me 5 Sonic burgers for 5.95 , anytime I want, and I used it so much I am now sick of Sonic Burgers. I do love happy hour, though. The only problem with Sonic, and I’ve encountered this SO MANY times, is that the drinks sometimes taste like tater tot grease. I’d imagine this is due to either the cups or the ice machine being placed near the deep fryers. I’ve encountered this at at least five Sonic restaurants in North Carolina.
    I LOVE the grilled cheese on texas toast, and the chicken sandwich is also good. The best thing are the tater tots and the jr. banana splits for 99 cents, although I think this is just an occasional thing.

    Reply
  36. tim

    Uh, it’s not just that it is cheaper to advertise nationally.

    Yes, sure, that’s true.

    But they are also whetting the appetites of millions who don’t yet (but soon will) have a Sonic. Or demand a Sonic.

    This post is precisely the thing they wanted. :)

    And one question: did you consult the map of Sonic stores before you left, or did you just drive randomly? Because if you did the latter, without an actual Sonic map in hand, you’re a total idiot.

    I may sound pissy but I’m a marketing exec at a top-tier QSR and I am having fun with tonight with your blog.

    Sheesh!

    lol

    Reply
  37. Gretchen

    I so agree! This has continued to frustrate me as I have lived in 4 states in the past 10 years, travel almost weekly for my job and have never seen the damn thing….and ohhh those commercials make it look soooo goood…

    Reply
  38. Cue

    We had Sonic ads prolly four years before the first one opened here. We watched, we drooled, we planned road trips. We got nekkid and rolled on the lawn when Sonic they were opening a location here. Two weeks later (Sonic doesn’t build, they inflate) we attended the grand opening. Meh. The drinks are very good. The food was Nothing Special. The tater tots are probably ok, being what they are and all. I can’t say, I don’t eat them. Growing up, the family specialty was a concoction dubbed tater tot pie. This consists of pork chops topped with a bag of tots combined with two cans of Lutheran binder. The entire creation was covered with cheddar cheese and baked. Forty years on, the thought of tater tots makes me violently ill.

    Reply
  39. Courtney

    Sonic is THE BOMB!!!! I totally get how much it would suck to see the ads all the time and never get to savor the deliciousness. I can’t imagine no Sonic! We have 4 (count ‘em!) in the small town of 75,000 people where I live. Long live happy hour from 2-4! :)

    Reply
  40. red

    sonic’s coming to you.. trust me. It’s one of the most rapidly growing companies out there. It started in Oklahoma and now it’s (almost) everywhere. You’ll get one and when it decides to come there it will be there in no time.

    Hey and we still have the fritos chili cheese pie, it’s just not on the menu, but we can make anything you ask for at Sonic, because we’re those kind of people.

    Reply
  41. Dave

    Like you, I’ve always lived in the Northeast, and seen Sonic commercials. We did find the one near the Grand Canyon – except it’s (no joke) near a ghost town about 2 hours south. One opened near my daughter’s house in PA -well, near being within 30 miles – so we made the pilgramage. When we got there, it is (AGAIN! NO JOKE) llegal to turn left into the store from the road! I got a ticket! For lusting after Tater Tots!
    BTW – drinks rock, food not so much – or maybe it was indigestion from the ticket…

    Reply
  42. Shane

    Another restaurant that does this: Red Robin. I live in North Carolina, and have never even seen a Red Robin, yet their commercials frequently appear on my television. Luckily, we have a Sonic, so it’s not that terrible.

    Reply
  43. Craig

    There is a Sonic in Peabody, MA and another one opening in the Boston area within a week. Sonic has stores open or opening in PA, NJ, CT, MI, ND and MT.

    Reply
  44. Christina

    Well I don’t have a Jack In The Box around here and they love to advertise here. I went to California a couple years ago and I demand a In and Out and Jack in Kansas City. And Bueno Taco Bueno.

    But we do have America’s drive in around here. Sonic is delicious I can promise you that. When one does finally open in your area I suggest the grilled chicken club toaster, chili cheese tots and dr. pepper with chocolate flavoring. If you’re not into the custom dr. pepper, go ahead and try the cherry limeade. It’s great.

    Reply
  45. kristen

    I am surprised to hear about Sonic being elusive, but it’s very similar to the old A & W Drive-Ins. I personally think A & W did a much better job.

    The servers wear roller skates and you can order at the menu board or in the drive thru lane.

    Here is what is good:

    Diet Limeade (my fav)
    Diet Cherry Limeade (somewhat sweeter)
    Ocean Water (amazing, but there are no diet options)
    Tots – w/cheese or without
    Cream Slush (ice cream blended with slushie)
    Blast – ice cream dessert, like blizzard

    I think they make a terrible burger and I’ve yet to have a good Texas toast sandwich there. I’ve tried a few times.

    I find the ice cream to be grainy and textured compared to Twistee Treat or Dairy Queen. They do a good job with the blended options though like the cream slush and blast.

    I LOVE that they do the happy hour from 2-4 on weekdays. You get half price beverages.

    I wouldn’t go out of your way for Sonic, but if you are near one, give them a try. My daughter loves the hot dogs, and the grilled cheese isn’t bad either.

    Reply
  46. kristen

    One more thing.. my favorite actual foods there are the cheddar poppers and mozzarella sticks. They also stick a mint into each bag. Unfortunately, if you’re ordering for four people that will be four people splitting one mint. Be sure to ask for extras!

    Reply
  47. helizond

    Ugghhh!
    “How about the fact that there are ZERO Sonic’s…”
    WHAT???
    That was really a deal breaker and sincerely kept me from reading the rest of the post.
    Being a blogger does not give you any right to kill the English language, and you must be aware that you’ll have a following.
    On the other hand… I really dislike Sonic’s ads; despise would be more correct. However, I do like their food, especially the Footlong Quarter pound Coney and Tots.
    Now, I find it rather interesting that for so many years you’ve heard –and might even drooled– about Sonic products and never taken the chance to GO find about it!

    Reply
  48. red

    Shane, actually there’s a red robin in Mooresville NC, so I’m pretty sure they are in more populated areas like Raleigh.
    Kristen- Ocean Waters can be diet, they’re just not on the menu, we can make any flavored drink diet, and actually Sonic now has the exact same ice cream as Dairy Queen and we clean our machines more often then the DQ’s close to use, which means we’re serving a better, cleaner product and technically, mints are supposed to be given with every item ordered besides a kids meal. So if all the four people in your car order something, they should get a mint, because EVERY customer is worth a MINT! ;D

    Reply

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