Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Jim Edwards
In 1953, a man named Troy Smith opened a restaurant called Top Hat Drive-In in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The business was started in an abandoned root beer stand and was meant to serve hot dogs and hamburgers to order. Smith visited Louisiana in 1954 and saw that there was a food stand that had a speaker box that they invented so that their customers could order from their cars, he contacted the inventor who then made an intercom for his Top Hat restaurant.
Every one of the Top Hat customers also received a mint with their order, Smith did this to ensure that they remembered that they were ‘worth a mint’. Charlie Pappe partnered with Troy Smith in 1956 and opened a second Top Hat Drive-In. In 1958 they tried to further grow the business, but the name had already been copyrighted by another company, so since Smith’s Top Hat Drive-In had a slogan “Service with the speed of sound.” Pappe and Smith decided on the name Sonic. In 1959, the Top Hat Drive-In in Stillwater became the first Sonic Drive-In.
Charlie Pappe unfortunately passed away in 1967, but by 1973 there were over 124 Sonic Drive-Ins residing in the states of Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, this was also the year that Troy Smith sold Sonic to some franchise owners. In the 1980s the Sonic Drive-Ins didn’t really operate as a restaurant chain but more in a way of a collection of independent restaurants with different menus and prices.
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Although the menus and prices varied by location for a while, by 2000 Sonic Drive-Ins had a consistent menu and also introduced their frozen favorites and breakfast menu items. Sonic Drive-In’s first menu from 1959 featured many of the favorite items that are still to this day on the Sonic Drive-In menu. Some of these favorite items included Onion Rings (priced at 35 cents), Grilled Cheese (priced at 30 cents), French Fries (priced at 25 cents), Limeade (priced at 10 cents for small, 15 cents for medium and 20 cents for a large) , Tater Tots (priced at 25 cents) and thick and rich Shakes-Malts in the flavors of chocolate, vanilla strawberry and pineapple (priced at 30 cents each).
Today, the Sonic Drive-In menu features kids meals, better known as wacky packs, breakfast sandwiches and burritos, chicken tenders, pretzels, popcorn chicken, mozzarella sticks, corn dogs, Fritos wraps, Ched ‘R’ Peppers, hot dogs made in a few different ways, and of course the Sonic Blasts.
12 Sonic Menu Secrets
Slap Your Mama Slush
Sonic isn’t actually saying you should slap your mama with this secret menu item, it’s just that this slushie is so sour it might make you think about slapping your mama. This slushie is made from combining the flavors of raspberry flavoring, lemonade and powerade.
This secret menu item was actually featured on the Sonic menu at one point in time, some of the frequent Sonic Drive-In lovers might actually recognize the name of the drink. The Sunshine Smoothie is made with a scoop of either ice cream or frozen yogurt, blended with orange juice, strawberries and banana. You can even have them add whip and top it with a cherry.
Some people may refer to this secret menu item as a ‘walking taco’, but either name leaves you with the same good tasting item. In asking for a Frito Pie you will receive a tray of Fritos topped with Sonic’s well-loved chili and cheese. You may also want to request that you receive a fork with this secret menu item because it could get pretty messy if you tried to dig in without one.
Dr. Pepper Org*sm
This menu item is a bit embarrassing to ask for, a lot of the crew members at your local Sonic Drive-In probably will not know what you are trying to order. If you go to order the Dr. Pepper Org*sm to complete your meal with a ‘mouthg*sm’ and the crew member has no idea what you are talking about, explain to them that you basically want Dr. Pepper with the cherry flavoring mixed with both lemonade and powerade.
Grilled Ham and Cheese
Sonic Drive-In offers breakfast toasters that have ham on them or as an option to put on them, so when you make a request for a Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwich they should be able to make you one. A grilled cheese can be found on the value part of Sonic’s menu or even on the kid’s menu, all you have to do is order one of them delicious cheesy sandwiches and request that they add ham to it.
Extreme Popcorn Chicken
Asking one of the crew members for an order of Extreme Popcorn Chicken might leave your taste buds feeling too satisfied. This secret menu item is prepared by taking the Jumbo Popcorn Chicken that Sonic offers on their regular menu and placing them in a tray to smother them with chili and cheese. Want to go the extra mile and leave your taste buds feeling extremely satisfied? Order a side of ranch with this secret menu item and dip the chili cheese covered chicken in the ranch, or just pour it on top.
Extreme Tater Tots
Chili and cheese tater tots are already a normal thing on the Sonic menu, but ordering the Extreme Tater Tots takes those tots to the next level. If the crew member happens to not know what you mean by extreme, simply just order the chili cheese tots and add ranch, jalapenos and onions on top.
Originally these were a big item on the Sonic menu, and they have been featured a few times since then but they currently don’t reside on the regular menu. Any Sonic Drive-In should have access to pickles, their delicious batter and a fryer. If you’re a pickle lover, order Pickle-Os and ask for them nicely and the crew members at your local Sonic may make them for you just to put a smile on your face.
Take any of the Sonic burgers and have them add onion rings on the top. If they are a little iffy about fulfilling that request, simply just order the burger of your choice and a small order of onion rings to make a Ringleader Burger yourself. Don’t forget about the sauces and other items Sonic features on their menu, you can mix and match those sauces and items to create your very own Ringleader Burger.
This secret menu item sort of could go with the Ringleader Burger above. The Hickory Burger is a regular Sonic burger but instead of ketchup, mayo and mustard it features Sonic’s smokey and sweet BBQ sauce on it. Order some onion rings on the side and top them on the Hickory Burger to make a Western Hickory Burger.
Made to Order Burgers and Hot Dogs
Remember that you can customize the hamburgers and hotdogs on your local Sonic Drive-In menu by simply asking the crew member for those customizations. For example, you can order the chili cheese dog and add onions, jalapenos, pickles, Ched R’ Peppers, mozzarella sticks, or any other item and condiment that is offered to the chili cheese dog to enhance its flavor and play with your taste buds. You can do the same thing with any burger, making your own creations such as the Hickory Burger or the Ringleader Burger secret menu items. Even if a crew member doesn’t want to add things like Ched R’ Peppers to your creation, you can always order them on the side and then add them yourself.
Anybody who has been to a Sonic Drive-In knows that they have happy hour specials on their drinks. They also give you the option to add flavor shots or real fruits or even nerds to your drink. You can mix and match these options to create your own drinks like the Slap Your Mama and the Dr. Pepper Org*asm above.
Video: 10 Sonic Drive-In Secret Menu Items that will Change Your Life
If you want to see what these secret menu items look like, check out this video!
The video is very very funny in the way it is shot. And you will get to see great pictures of the food and also get to hear what the reviewers think of them.
Summary of Sonic’s Secret Menu
You may not be a fan of Sonic, but since they have more than 3,000 restaurants currently residing in 44 states there must be a lot of fans of their restaurant, menu and food. You might know someone who loves going to the local Sonic Drive-In, let them in on some of these menu secrets. If you do happen to be a fan of Sonic Drive-In, use some of these menu secrets yourself the next time you visit your local Sonic.
Since Sonic Drive-Ins aren’t everywhere, some people do travel quite a distance just to go to a Sonic Drive-In because they are a fan of the food and menu, or simply because they want to try or have someone try their favorite menu items.
Asking the crew member to customize or make one of these secret menu items is simple enough, but don’t get frustrated if they have no idea what you are talking about because they might just be new to the team.
Image Credit: “Sonic Drive In” by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0
I’m Jim Edwards and I started this website to share my love of Junk Food. We cover new junk food, desserts, snack foods, fast food secret menus, candy (of course!) and other related news. We love trying “secret menus” at restaurants. And we love trying new products too. So, we are trying to have some fun with our hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send us your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have products you would like us to try, let us know…!