Sonic Drive-in is a quick-service burger chain known for its car-hop style service in which food is brought out directly to customers’ cars, as well as its robust, customizable beverage offerings, including its distinctive crushed ice, which has a cult-like following.
Hot dogs also are a core part of Sonic’s menu.
Troy Smith Sr. opened Sonic’s first location Shawnee, Okla., in 1953, under the name Top Hat, with its signature curbside speakers. The car-side delivery at the fast-food restaurant prompted the slogan “Service at the speed of sound,” which in turn led to the name Sonic Drive-In, which became the concept’s name in 1959.
Sonic upgraded its hot dogs in 2010 with the rollout of a Footlong Quarter Pound Coney made with a new beef-and-pork blend. It then parlayed that into four different styles of 6-inch all-beef hot dogs. Later menu innovations included the 2017 introduction of the Signature Slinger, the first burger in quick-service made with an environmentally friendlier blend of beef and mushrooms. Recent beverage innovations have included pickle juice-flavored slushes and a slush made out of the energy drink Red Bull.
Sonic was acquired by Inspire Brands in December of 2018.
Key Data: Sonic Drive-In
Headquarters: Oklahoma City
Segment: Quick Service
Restaurant Segment: LSR Burger
Number of U.S. Locations: 3,498
2020 Sales: $4.36 billion
Source: Datassential Firefly 500
CEO: J Clifford Hudson
Parent Company: Inspire Brands