The first I had ever heard of a White Castle was when Harold and Kumar went there. We don’t have White Castles ’round these parts. Nor do we have In ‘N Out Burgers nor Carl’s Jrs. And that’s just fine by me. So interested was I in a White Castle after Harold and Kumar that I tried a frozen one (the only kind you can get ’round these parts) and well, yech.
But what we do have now is a Sonic Drive-In. Here in my very own hometown of Puyallup. It’s the first of many in the Pacific Northwest they say. They also say that it’s part of Sonic’s Marketing Plan to run ads for Sonics in areas where they plan to expand years before they open, so as to create an insane demand. That’s certainly what happened here. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Sonic started airing commercials in Western Washington in 2006, with the nearest Sonic in Vancouver, WA, 2 hours away. When Sonic opened here almost three weeks ago (May 2009), the wait was over 90 minutes. 90 minutes for fast food!
They may have started airing local commercials in 2006, but I must have seen commercials on cable channels even before that, because I went to New Orleans in February of 2005 and I was very excited to come across a Sonic. I really wanted to try one of their slushee – slurpee type drinks. So I insisted to my friend that we stop. This must have been a very weird Sonic because as far as I remember it wasn’t a drive-in, and we walked inside the restaurant to order. I ordered one of the drinks and was told they didn’t have them. Ooh-kay. So we just left. A few days later we found another Sonic in another part of town, a drive-in. This time I ordered and was served one of the drinks, but they must have made it with tap water because it tasted like chlorine.
So I was hopeful that when the Puyallup Sonic opened I’d finally get to taste one of these drinks as they were meant to be. But I certainly wasn’t going to wait 90 minutes. Like the Krispy Kreme from 2003, we figured it would take about three weeks for the scene to calm down. Shaun and I went mid-week, just before dinner time, a couple of days ago and wound up waiting about 15 minutes I think. At the time I was not hungry so I only ordered tater tots and one of the drinks. I ordered a slush, when I think what I wanted to try was the lime-ade. In any event, the two things I did eat were, well, yech. Shaun didn’t love his meal, but wants to go back to try something different, so I’m sure we’ll be back until I decree that I hate the place and I won’t go there anymore.
I’m not sure why places like Krispy Kreme and Sonic can create such insane demands. I also frequently puzzle at the nostalgia for old times. A drive-in sounds so novel and fun, but let’s be honest, eating in the car is far more uncomfortable than eating at a table. A couple of years ago Shaun and I went to a drive-in movie theater in Auburn because I had never been to a drive-in. It was a double feature. 4 hours spent in a tiny, cramped Subaru, watching a blurry picture on the screen and listening to distorted audio via AM radio waves. Mr. & Mrs. Smith was never better.
When Shaun and I lived in Redmond, I would pass a BurgerMaster drive-in on 520 on my way to work. And since I am not immune to nostalgia or gimmicks, I insisted we try it. We wound up going to this place a few times, because it was actually good. Unlike Sonic. Wouldn’t it be great if we could create demand for a local, homegrown restaurant or chain and just said who cares to corporate crap like Sonic? BurgerMaster is a Seattle chain, with five locations in the greater Seattle area. If you’re nearby any of them, get your drive-in fix there! Don’t bother coming down here for Sonic.