By Dr. Ink
Until motoring into Sonic Drive-In recently with a thirst for something fruity and an appetite for something fatty, I had never experienced such a G-rated happy hour. It’s one that occurs daily at thousands of Sonic Drive-Ins across the nation.
Yes, I’m talking about a place devoid of alcohol and where servers scissor the parking lot on roller skates delivering icy beverages and junk food to your car.
And why not?
I had just shaken off a fierce hangover from a night of debauchery the day before, so a couple of “real fruit” slushes and messy chili-cheese fries ordered from a menu board in my parking space felt cleansing. Well sort of.
The price was certainly right. Beverages that don’t contain ice cream are half-off during the midday happy hour, which is offered from 2 to 4 p.m. seven days a week. And on occasion, munchies such as corn dogs, single burgers or chili-cheese fries can drop to only 99 cents through smartphone alerts via the Sonic app.
I don’t subscribe to fast-food internet promotions, but a chirpy server (not on roller skates) kindly granted me the day’s price break on the chili-cheese fries, hoping perhaps I’d download the app after tasting the soggy spuds, which were covered in flavorless cheese and salty chili. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.
I washed down the food with the help of a bright-red strawberry slushy made with frozen fruit I’m guessing contained added sugar. It was sweetly satisfying, despite frequent chunks of the berries causing logjams in my straw. And for only $1.60 with the price break, it was a pretty swell deal.
My order arrived on a plastic tray resembling those used in hospitals. It’s designed, however, to hang from partially rolled up car windows, thus sparing your dashboard and cup holders potential spills.
The car-hop concept dates back to the 1950s, when Sonic embraced the all-American trend in Oklahoma at the time. Famous for its burgers and shakes, the company today holds claim to 3,600 locations throughout the country. There are four outposts in the San Diego area, including this one in North Park.
Curious about the fresh-lime slushy, I ordered a small one for the road. Electric-green in color, it offered enough pulp to convince me that actual limes were used in the making. It too was super refreshing.
So for next summer’s dog days, I’ll know where to pull over to quench my thirst without having to lumber in drive-thru lines before wetting my whistle. And maybe someday, I’ll dare try the burgers.