Drinks Fast Food What's New

Sonic’s Newest Slush Is Made With Carolina Reapers, One Of The World’s Spiciest Chilies

Sonic has been getting experimental with their Slushes lately. Last year, they came out with a Pickle Juice version that polarized the internet for its sweet yet savory flavor. They’re going down the savory route again with their newest slush, but with an immense explosion of heat as well.

Photo courtesy of Sonic

As part of their new Mocktail Slush series, Sonic has unveiled a Reaper Margarita Slush that’s made with Carolina Reapers, one of the hottest chilies in the world. With a potency of over 2 million Scoville heat units, these peppers are at least 250 times hotter than a jalapeno.

While the Slush’s sugary content definitely takes down the heat a bit, Foodbeast has been told that this chili-infused drink still packs a ton of heat. It takes a few seconds for it to kick in, but the slow burn is one that comes on fierce.

Sonic is encouraging people to do a “#ReaperChallenge” on social media as well, meaning that they know just how much spice is coming in this icy drink. Having eaten foods made with Carolina Reapers before, I’m already dreading just how much this one is gonna hurt when I take that first sip.

UPDATE: Having tried this new Slush out, it is without question the hottest thing a fast food chain has ever released. While the drink isn’t as spicy as a Carolina Reaper, it packs a lot of punch, with more fire to it than some ghost pepper hot sauces out there. It does take more than a few sips to get the full effect of the heat, but it’ll leave your throat, tongue, and lips burning for 20 minutes or so after eating. It’s gonna definitely be a challenge for many to even just finish the frozen drink.

The Reaper Margarita Slush will be around at Sonic Drive-In locations nationwide until August 4th.

Fast Food Packaged Food What's New

Sonic And King’s Hawaiian Collab For The First Time Ever On New Club Sandwiches

King’s Hawaiian has left its fingerprints on the fast food map before, particularly with chains like Arby’s. Their newest item, however, is a first, as the lauded breadmakers are collaborating with Sonic Drive-In for the first time ever.

Photo courtesy of Sonic Drive-In

The new collab consists of a lineup of club sandwiches made with King’s Hawaiian buns. There’s a fried chicken version as well as a “Burger Club” variant, both of which are similar outside of the protein. You get either a piece of fried chicken or a burger patty topped with lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, bacon, and Sonic’s Signature Sauce, a blend of honey mustard and BBQ sauce.

Photo courtesy of Sonic Drive-In

Both new sandwiches, the King’s Hawaiian Chicken Club and King’s Hawaiian Burger Club, are priced at $4.99 each. They will be available starting on April 29th as a limited-time offering.

Drinks Fast Food Sweets What's New

Red Bull’s First Foray Into Fast Food Is Sonic’s New Red Bull Slushes

Iconic energy drink Red Bull has teamed up with a fast food chain and created a menu item for the first time ever.

Photo courtesy of Sonic Drive-In

The new item is Sonic Drive-In’s Red Bull Slush, which takes the chain’s well-known lineup of frozen beverages and blends Red Bull into it. It’s available in two official flavors, Original and Cherry Limeade, but you always have the option to customize these with your own flavor additions.

This collab marks Red Bull’s first ever official fast food item, although it has teamed up with Steak ‘n Shake in the past to put its cans in restaurants. Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have also teamed up with Monster in the past to create the first ever fast food energy drink item.

Sonic customers will also be able to buy cans of Red Bull at locations nationwide as a part of the energy drink’s partnership. Both the cans and the Red Bull are available starting April 29th at $2.99 each.

If you’re at Week 1 of Coachella, or in Phoenix or Dallas, however, you’ll get a chance to try these early. The Red Bull Slushes will be at the invitation-only MOSCHINO after-party on Saturday, April 13th, just outside of Coachella. Phoenix and Dallas will get these on April 18th and April 25th, respectively, as a part of two different Sonic Block Parties. The Phoenix one will occur at CityScape Phoenix, while Dallas’s party will be at The Truck Yard.

Now Trending Packaged Food

Sonic The Hedgehog Curry Exists, And It’s Blue Beyond Belief

Sonic the Hedgehog apparently has an official curry rice product, and it gives the Smurfs a run for their money in terms of how blue something can truly get.

The Sonic curry rice has been making its way around the internet recently thanks to a viral tweet from writer Jonathan Gray. According to VG247, it’s been around in Japan since late June of this year, and was a special promotional product collab between SEGA and Geek Life. It’s supposed to be as blue as the iconic video game character, which whoever was in charge of the food coloring took quite literally.

Those who have been able to score the curry and cook it have posted videos showing how to make it and what the results look like. Essentially, it’s a package of rice and a separate package of curry that can be heated, with you adding your protein of choice. Most people have been attempting to get it to look like Sonic the Hedgehog (with varying results), but more attention has been given to the curry’s electric blue hue.

YouTuber Retro Core noted in his upload that after eating the curry on camera, his teeth, tongue, and poop were all stained a bright blue, the latter of which stayed that way for a couple of days. In terms of taste, it actually wasn’t too bad, and is “quite creamy.”

If you’re interested in obtaining this curry for yourself, it is still available in various stores in Japan. There’s also at least one person attempting to sell a pack for a whopping $33 on eBay.

Featured image courtesy of YouTube user Retro Core
Fast Food Opinion

Beyond The Beef: How Major Chains Are Capitalizing Big On Burger Alternatives

Burgers are the bread and butter of McDonald’s, White Castle, and many other big names in the quick-service industry. However, the future appears to be unsustainable for the fast food staple based on climate research and the environmental cost of raising cows for meat.

Several chains are beginning to develop and launch burger alternatives due to sustainability initiatives and a growing interested in plant-based foods. By doing so, they’ve carved out niches in the industry and established themselves as frontrunners when it comes to looking at ways to innovate the burger beyond beef.

Photo courtesy of White Castle

The biggest name to launch a plant-based burger alternative is White Castle, who has incorporated the Impossible Burger into their selection of sliders. Impossible Foods’ crowning jewel has gained popularity because of its taste and satiety, which come pretty close to mimicking that of beef. While several chains have started to carry the burger as a result, White Castle has done so in the most prolific fashion.

What started as a regional test for them went national after locations carrying the Impossible Sliders saw a meteoric 250% jump in market share versus those that didn’t carry them. That should provide a significant boost to White Castle sales nationwide for the coming year. That figure dropped $17 million from 2016 to 2017, according to Restaurant Business Online, but with the higher price point and interest the Impossible Slider ($1.99) provides for White Castle, it should easily make up that loss and then some.

White Castle CEO Lisa Ingram is known for expanding her chain’s menu to target future generations, and the Impossible Slider fits right into her vision. It’s also brought the chain to the forefront of fast food innovation, and should help accelerate growth as it looks into expanding beyond Vegas into more West Coast locations in the near future.

Photo courtesy of Fatburger

As a slider, White Castle’s Impossible Burger creations are the most affordable and accessible in the market. But for those looking for the full burger, there are other fast food chains out there offering up full-sized versions of the “bleeding vegan patty.”

Fatburger immediately comes to mind as a prime example. They’ve seen a 9.5% growth in same-store sales in just the past quarter, which Fatburger attributes to the plant-based patty. Upon Fatburger’s nationwide launch of the Impossible Burger earlier this year, CEO Andy Wiederhorn called it one of their best test items to date. The chain was facing bankruptcy less than a decade ago, but has clearly turned its fortunes around since, and partially has its plant-based offering to thank for that.

Photo courtesy of Umami Burger

The chain that has arguably found the greatest success to date with Impossible Foods’ plant-based meat is Umami Burger. Known for influencing a nationwide craft burger movement, Umami has since expanded its menu and growth heavily through their partnership with Impossible Foods. Their version of the vegan burger is a top-3 seller at every location they own, and accounts for a fifth of sales and increased sales by 27% in its first 6 weeks on the menu.

Umami has since entered a 2-year exclusivity contract with Impossible Foods, and it’s fueled foot traffic as guests come in specifically to try their version of the vegan patty. They don’t plan to slow down the partnership anytime soon, as in just a short amount of time, it’s become a top-selling and dominant item for the artisan burger concept.


sonic signature slingersPhoto courtesy of Sonic Drive-In

Of course, not everyone is working with Impossible Foods to develop their burger alternatives. Some of fast food’s biggest names have their own creative teams ideating unique creations that are healthier and more sustainable than your standard burger.

Amongst these, Sonic Drive-In has emerged as a key innovator with their Signature Slinger. A 25-75 blend of mushroom and beef that boosts flavor while providing a healthier option, the Slingers have found popularity within Sonic’s mainstream consumer base. The response so far has been “overwhelmingly positive,” according to representatives, with a majority of those who try it once saying they would order it again. Sonic has even given the burger an extended stay as part of their $2.99 Carhop Classic deal, confirming that the blended mushroom burger is resonating amongst consumers.

It’s important for a concept like Sonic’s Signature Slinger to succeed because it represents a bridge between the true burger and the plant-based alternative. If you can prove that you don’t need to use all meat to provide health benefits without a loss of flavor, then customers are more willing to try and buy the more sustainable burger option.

Sonic, White Castle, Umami Burger, and Fatburger are all pushing the envelope with the availability and growth they’ve experienced from incorporating burger alternatives. They haven’t lost their main target audiences as a result, but have instead tacked on a massive swath of vegan and vegetarian consumers that didn’t have much of a satiating meal option in the world of fast food before. It’s caused other big names, including McDonald’s (who began testing a new burger alternative called the “McVegan” in Europe last year), to look into cutting their beef as well, meaning that they’re helping to influence a more sustainable and healthier future of food.

Fast Food What's New

Sonic Adds Footlong Philly Cheesesteaks To Their Menu For A Limited Time

Subway has long been the standard for the footlong sandwich. Even with the passing of the $5 Footlong deal and the fact that their bread doesn’t always measure up, the sandwich giant is known for price and size with its subs.

They just got a cheaper and heftier rival in the sandwich space, though, as Sonic Drive-In just unveiled Footlong Cheesesteaks at a price that tops anything that Subway’s got.

Photo courtesy of Sonic

Priced at $3.99 each, Sonic’s cheesesteaks come in at a dollar less than the iconic Subway sandwich deal. They’re available in two forms: the Classic, with grilled steak, onions, and cheese sauce, and the Spicy, which adds on Baja sauce and sliced jalapenos.

Few other fast food chains have a similar item on the menu, with Jack in the Box having sold one for $4.99 and Arby’s carrying one for just over $5. Subway also has the option available, but not as a $5 footlong, making it quite more expensive than Jack and Arby’s, and Sonic’s cheesesteak is a bargain at its significantly lower price.

Sonic’s cheesesteaks are a limited-time offer, but given their price and the ubiquitous popularity of the Philly cheesesteak, there’s always the possibility for it to stick around for longer than anticipated.

Fast Food News Restaurants

Sonic Drive-In Was Just Sold To Arby’s Owner For $2.3 Billion, Creating A New Fast Food Powerhouse

Sonic Drive-In is now under the same company that controls Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, as it was just sold to Inspire Brands for a staggering $2.3 billion.

sonic drive-inPhoto: Mike Mozart // Flickr, CC 2.0

The sale takes Sonic out of the publicly traded-market and makes it a privately-owned fast food chain, as Inspire Brands is under the control of private equity firm Roark Capital. According to CNBC, that gives the business a fast food empire of more than 8,000 restaurants valued at $12 billion total.

For Sonic fans, though, going from public to private marks a major turning point for the drive-in chain. As a private company, they can focus more resources on growth and innovation, something Inspire Brands wants to happen. Sonic has diversified itself in the tech and food sectors of fast food, with the mushroom-packed Signature Slinger and their app’s revolutionary order speed turning heads this year.

Inspire hopes to take Sonic’s customizable menu to a new level, and while it is already quite malleable, it’ll be creative new items and growth in technology that’ll help Sonic grow even further in the coming years.

Sonic can also leverage its new partner to grow and expand its presence to cities and states it isn’t in yet. They currently have about 3,500 locations in 44 states, but they can use their resources to expand to all 50 much more quickly. This would make them a bigger threat and competitor to companies like McDonald’s, especially with the fact that Sonic can process several customers at once, thanks to their unique technology and restaurant model.

Thanks to their innovations over the past year, Sonic is presenting a refreshing take on what the old school drive-in can be. And now, they have the backing and partners to bring that model to even more people and use it to challenge some of the industry’s biggest names. It’ll be interesting to see just how competitive Sonic becomes in the coming years.

Fast Food Opinion What's New

Sonic’s New Crispy Tenders Beat Raising Cane’s And Zaxby’s At Their Own Game

Chicken tenders are one of the most popular commodities in fast food right now. While everybody’s got their own version, the gold standards up to this point have been Raising Cane’s and Zaxby’s. Their low breading-to-meat ratios, Instagram-worthy dinner plates, and tangy signature sauces have made these chains the go-to spots for fast food tenders.

sonic crispy tenders

A new contender has emerged in the quick-service chicken tender game, though, that doesn’t just compete with, but surpasses Cane’s and Zaxby’s in every way. While you think this fire might be coming out of Church’s Chicken or Chick-fil-A, it’s actually coming out of Sonic Drive-In. Crazy, right?

I had the opportunity to visit Sonic’s headquarters to try the new Sonic Crispy Tenders ahead of their mid-June release. The new strips replace Sonic’s old, crunchy versions with a meatier, juicier tender that’s on par with the “specialists,” as Culinary Director Scott Uehlein puts it.

To get on par with those gold standards, Sonic slashed their breading by 50% to achieve the texture and meatiness consumers want nowadays. Personally, I felt that Sonic’s tenders were even juicier than those that I’ve had at either of the top tenders chains, and I was beyond impressed at their quality.

Sonic is bringing that same level of flavor to the accouterments alongside their tenders. They’ve concocted a Signature Sauce of honey mustard and barbecue that’s modeled off of Cane’s Sauce, but isn’t as cloying as the OG version. There’s even plate meals of the tenders available that are constructed to look like the Raising Cane’s plates that crush it on Instagram. This “Crispy Tender Dinner” comes with three strips of chicken, sauce, tots, an onion ring, and Texas Toast.

Uehlein was bold enough to call these the “best tenders in QSR” during the visit to Sonic HQ. Do they live up to that claim, though? Being on par with Cane’s and Zaxby’s at their best makes them worthy enough to be in the conversation. The one thing that can put Sonic over the others, though, is consistency.

Sonic’s tenders retain a crispiness just below that of Zaxby’s while being (at the bare minimum) as succulent as a Cane’s tender. That combination, plus the fact that Sonic is matching or beating the “tender specialists” in the sauce, plate, and quality aspects, gives Uehlein’s claim quite a bit of legitimacy.

Those interested in trying out the new Sonic Crispy Tenders will see them in stores starting in early May. A nationwide rollout of the chicken strips to all locations will be completed in mid-June.