Is there a more distinctly American institution than the Sonic Drive-In? You’d be hard-pressed to find one, what with sweet slushes, Ocean Waters, shakes, and gooey mozzarella sticks, all from roller-skating waiters.
In 1953, the first model of the drive-in restaurant opened in Shawnee, Okla., originally named Top Hat. The restaurant wowed diners with then-innovative curbside service, which let visitors order burgers without leaving their cars, and led to the catchphrase, “Service at the Speed of Sound” (i.e. the technical definition of “sonic”).
That speedy attention inspired its current identity and the name that most know it by. However, the reason for the change in name stemmed from a copyright conflict. Top Hat was already copyrighted, restricting the Oklahoma restaurant’s ability to expand. Following the adoption of the new name, and alongside entrepreneur Charlie Pappe, owner Troy Smith opened some 41 locations before Pappe’s death in 1967.
Over a half century later, Sonic Drive-In has expanded to a total of 3,549 locations across the United States. Some states clearly have a greater appetite for the restaurant than others, though. While Texas boasts nearly 1,000 drive-in locations, there are zero Sonics in Maine and New Hampshire.
With the popularity of the chain still growing, it’s no surprise that the recently launched Sonic Hard Seltzers are also a hit. Produced by COOP Ale Works in Oklahoma City, the line includes eight seltzers, three frozen offerings, and one hard sweet tea (though they aren’t offered at any of the chain’s restaurant locations).
Continue reading to learn the number of Sonic Drive-In locations in your state.
|State||Number of Sonic Drive-Ins|