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Sonic Drive-In, also known as Sonic or The Drive-In, is a well-known fast food restaurant franchise owned by Inspire Brands. Troy N. Smith Jr. launched the corporation in 1953 under the brand Top Hat Drive-In. Sonic is one of the top competing fast-food chains in the United States with over 3,550 locations. They are also known for using Carhops on roller skates and hosting an annual competition for the top skating carhop in the firm.

Sonic Drive-In

After World War II, Smith Sr. came to Seminole, Oklahoma, his hometown, and began working as a milkman. He chose to transport bread because it is lightweight than milk. Smith soon acquired nearby Cottage Cafe, a small cafe in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Soon after, he sold it and opened Troy’s Pan Full of Chicken in the suburbs of the town. Smith and a business partner bought a five-acre plot of land with a wood cabin and a walk-up root beer stand called the Top Hat in 1953.

The pair kept the root beer business running and transformed their wood cabin into a steakhouse. Smith opted to focus on the more profitable root beer stand after noticing that the stand was earning $700 per week in sales of hamburgers, root beer, and hot dogs. Smith decided to buy the root bear stand from his partner.

At Top Hat, customers used to park their vehicles anywhere within the gravel parking lot and walk right up to order food. Smith observed a drive-in that utilized speakers for ordering in Louisiana. He assumed that by managing the parking and making people order from loudspeakers in their automobiles, and carhops bringing the food, he might increase his sales.

Revenue instantly tripled. An entrepreneur named Charles Woodrow Pappe was intrigued by the Top Hat drive-in. In 1956, he and Smith made an arrangement and had their first franchise restaurant in Woodward in Oklahoma City. Two additional drive-ins were established in Stillwater and Enid in 1958.

Smith and Pappe altered the name to Sonic in 1959 after discovering that the Top Hat brand had already been trademarked. The new brand name fits with its current tagline for fast service.  The very first Sonic signage was put somewhere at Stillwater Top-Hat Drive-In just after the rebranding.

From three locations, the business quickly expanded to 1,000 outlets in 1978. Sonic had become a publicly traded corporation in 1991. The firm restructured its existing contracts with its franchisees by 1994  and Sonic Industries was rebranded as Sonic Corp.

Sonic opened 100-150 new locations every year in the mid-1990s. Sonic initiated a remodeling initiative called “Sonic 2000” in 1998 to renovate and update every sonic location in its chain to a “vintage” style. They also developed Sonic Beach which debuted its first facility in Homestead, Florida in 2011. It now serves cheesesteaks, popcorn shrimp,  and pork ribs sandwiches, among other things. Beer and wine are also available at Sonic Beach.

Today, Sonic Americas Drive-In offers a wide variety of food options including burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and breakfast items. The customer’s favorite includes Sonic Cheeseburger Combo, Chili Cheese Coney, Master Shakes, Sonic Blasts, and Meals in the Wacky Pack Kids Menu.

Sonic Food

In recent years, more and more people are opting for healthier food options because of their health benefits. That being said, restaurants have started to adapt to this demand of the market including Sonic Drive-In. Fast food chains are starting to offer healthier food options for different types of diets including vegan and keto diets.

But how can you tell if what you’re eating is healthy? Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of vegan and keto-friendly fast food places in the United States. Also, how to order them. Check out our guide below for Sonic Drive-In keto and vegan options!