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Getting a Shake at Sonic – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Being a city dweller, I’ve never been to Sonic, the Oklahoma retro-hamburger stand that’s been doing all the national advertising of late.  I’ve heard people rant about their drinks and shakes (decidedly mixed reviews on the burgers, but people love the beverages).  Not about to commandeer a car to a trip to the suburban hinterlands where Sonic has recently entered the greater Chicago metro area, I opted for an exploratory expedition while visiting the family in scenic Iowa.  I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

My father pulled up to their drive through and we ordered.  I got a strawberry shake, he got a chocolate shake.  Simple?  You’d think so.  We pulled the car forward and while we waited, one car back in the line, we viewed the consternation of the Sonic employees through their lovely glass drive-through booth.

The two employees, who looked more like high school girls than college freshmen, were huddled over what I can only guess was the shake machine and appeared to be having a discussion about how to make a shake.  Eventually, they figured out they needed to squirt a flavor on the ice cream, or at least I took the brown squirt to be chocolate and the red squirt to be strawberry.  If that’s not what it was, I probably don’t want to know.  Then they had another discussion about what to do next.  It looked like they decided they ought to mix the flavor quirt in.  Apparently, that’s not obvious to everyone.

It was at this point that my father noted that the girl with the chocolate shake was almost holding the cup sideways and he was concerned that nothing was spilling out of said cup, which shouldn’t happen where liquids are involved.  Shortly thereafter, two adults in blue shirts who I took to be managers showed up, ordered that extra thick chocolate shake cup tossed and that they start over.

I’d love to know what happened next, but the car head of us left and we pulled up to the window, ruining our view.  After another short wait, presumably when the kiddies made the shakes a second time, they finally opened the window to hand us the drinks.  Dear old dad, unimpressed by the theater that was their attempts to make a shake and the full price of the drinks during the half price drinks happy hour, went so far as to talk a little a smack.

“Are you really supposed to hold a shake sideways,” he asked the kiddie who took his money. 

After she became (more) confused, he explained “I saw the person pouring the shake hold the cup sideways,” gesturing appropriately.

Poor thing didn’t know what he was talking about, which is really unfortunate since she was the one holding the cup sideways.

Taking the drinks, we pulled ahead.  I stuck a straw in my cup and tried to take a sip.  The straw collapsed.  Mind you, this was not a flimsy straw.  I pulled the straw out, repositioned it and attempted another draw.  Again, the straw imploded before any of the shake moved.  Dear old dad tried his shake and experienced the same effect.  When I popped off the lid, I found a solid cup of ice cream.  Oh, you could stir it a little, but when you pulled the straw out, the hole created by the straw didn’t fill in.

We decided to get back in the drive-through lane and ask for spoons, since there was no way that ice cream was going to go through a straw.  As we waited for the drive-through window to free up, I tried an experiment.  I turned my cup sideways.  Not almost sideways, but 90-degrees, lying on its side sideways.  The shake didn’t even move.  I suggested that I’d have an easier time drinking a regular soft-serve ice cream cone through a straw than this so-called shake.  As it turns out, when we had dinner, the place (Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, should you wish to try this experiment) had soft-serve ice cream and I was able to sip that ice cream through a straw, unlike the alleged Sonic shake.

When we got spoons, it turned out that what we had was fairly good strawberry and chocolate ice cream.  Silly me, I come from a primitive part of the country where you sip a shake, not eat it.  Still, the ineffectiveness of either a straw or gravity to move the shake solves a mystery.  Why was an ice cream drink not discounted with the rest of the drinks?  You can’t call it a drink if it’s physically impossible to drink one.


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