SONIC GUY 1: “I really like these new Sonic Blast Flavor Funnels.”
SONIC GUY 2: “Why are you saying ‘Sonic’ like I don’t know they’re from Sonic? We’re literally at Sonic.”
SONIC GUY 1 smiles uncomfortably.
SONIC GUY 2: “Hold up, didn’t Ben & Jerry’s and Dairy Queen basically just make these?!”
SONIC GUY 1: “Shut up man, they’ll hear you! Don’t ruin the gig! Haha, he’s just joking around, boss.”
Those cornballs have been making commercials since 2004!
Sonic the Hedgehog is only 12 years older than those ads. The Seattle Supersonics – who feel like they’ve been gone forever – became the OKC Thunder in 2008! That’s how long these dudes have been shilling for America’s Drive-In.
If you’ve seen our heroes lately, they’ve probably been promoting Sonic’s new “flavor funnels” because Ben and Jerry made “Cores,” and Dairy Queen made “Royal Blizzards,” and that’s just what competing companies do these days. Anything you can do, I can do the same! The new trend is ice cream companies jamming a thin vein of flavor through their flagship products, and pretending its ground breaking.
Sonic took their already existing “Blasts” and shot everything from caramel to Oreo crème to peanut butter down the middle, because why not?
I chose the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blast with the peanut butter flavor funnel, because why not?!
The Blast’s base was vanilla ice cream that was neither offensive nor impressive. It was fine. Bits and pieces of Reese’s cups were blended in, which is never a bad thing.
Once I choked down the whipped cream I wish wasn’t there, the tan flavor funnel core peaked out in all of its Jules Vernian glory. At first glance it was a sight to behold. Then, I tasted it.
The peanut butter’s texture left a lot to be desired. It was gluey, with a consistency somewhere between syrup and Jif Whips. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I don’t usually like my peanut butter to be wet. It didn’t help that while trying to get a nice balance of ice cream to funnel, I ended up basically eating half the funnel in one bite. Said bite was extremely overpowering, and the tiny bits of chocolate didn’t counterbalance it at all.
I dug down to see if the funnel reached the bottom of the cup, and it stopped about half way. It was half a funnel! Half of “funnel” is “fun.” That’s not fun!
I only ate about 1/3rd of the Blast, and I’m pretty sure I consumed the entire funnel. Sonic’s website lists the sizes as mini, small, medium and large, but they didn’t even ask, and just gave me the “one size kills all.” It was disgustingly massive.
I paid the over five dollars by card, so I felt bad when the Carhop rolled over and I didn’t have a tip for her on hand. I’d be remised if I didn’t give props to Sonic as well as Venice Beach and old guy hockey leagues for keeping roller blades alive, though.
Look, I’m not gonna say there’s much wrong with vanilla ice cream, weird peanut butter and Reese’s, but this funnel gimmick was completely unnecessary. The Blast sans funnel is probably more satisfying.
To be fair, I only had the one flavor, and you can add as many toppings as you please, so the other flavors might be bigger hits than this one. I may go back for a mini Oreo at some point.
(Nutrition Facts – Large – 1880 calories, 840 calories from fat, 94 grams of total fat, 62 grams of saturated fat, 305 milligrams of cholesterol, 1160 milligrams of sodium, 233 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 203 grams of sugars, and 27 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $4.39 + $.50 for the Flavor Funnel add-on Size: Large Rating: 6 out of 10 Pros: It’s ice cream and Reese’s. It’s the lazy man’s DQ Blizzard. Sonic Guys making bank. Carhop delivery. Cons: Weird overpowering peanut butter funnel. Absolutely massive Styrofoam cup. Not enough chocolate bits. Expensive. Look at the nutrition facts for a large. Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton are the REAL Sonic Guys.
Sonic loves screwing around with their hot dog menu. That may sound like an insult, but it’s not; it’s a compliment. Keeping a fast food menu fresh and rotating earns you high marks in my book. That is, unless you discontinue something I love; then I hate you.
To give you an idea of Sonic’s wiener range, they’ve played with such toppings as blue cheese dressing, Fritos, guacamole, garlic parmesan sauce and crispy onions. They’ve also played with their buns, introducing pretzel, cheesy bread, and now croissant varieties.
The new croissant bun hot dogs come in two varieties: the Original, which comes topped with mustard, and the Bacon Double Cheddar, which I chose because it sounded infinitely more interesting. Here’s how Sonic describes it:
“SONIC’s Croissant Dogs take a new, gourmet twist on a Sonic classic hot dog. We start by baking a soft roll, with all of the flakey goodness and buttery taste of a delicious croissant. Then, we nestle the juicy premium beef hot dog in the croissant and top it off with cheddar cheese and bacon.”
Of all the different types of breads out there, I wouldn’t have even thought of turning a croissant into a hot dog bun. Croissants are for breakfast. Although, now that I think about it, how long has Pillsbury been telling you two wrap tiny hot dogs in their croissant dough? Well-played, Sonic.
Since the crux of this new menu item is the bun, I immediately tried it on its own once it had been procured. I found it to be flaky like a croissant, but quite a bit denser than the dainty bakery product you would consume with an espresso. It also had a tiny bit of buttery flavor, but there was no buttery sheen or greasiness to the bun itself.
When I bit into the dog, I could see the layers that are one of the signatures of the croissant. However, in addition to being more dense than a traditional croissant, the bun was also quite thick. As I worked my way through the hot dog, the bun didn’t compress like some cheap buns – it retained it’s fluffiness throughout.
And it’s a good thing, too, because the Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog is loaded with toppings. I couldn’t even see the hot dog under all that cheese and bacon.
While the subtle buttery taste of the bun immediately disappeared due to the toppings, the texture still worked and the bun managed to both not sog and actually contain the toppings, which I figured would be all over my hands by the end of my meal. Unexpectedly, it was the bun that wound up making the most mess – it flaked off all over the place, which would leave you with a lap full of crumbs if you were to eat this on-the-go.
As for the toppings, as I mentioned, they were ample. However, they diverged rather mysteriously from both the description on the website and the picture. First of all, it’s called “Double Cheddar”, and the picture on their online menu clearly shows both cheese sauce and melted shredded cheese. However, mine only came with cheese sauce.
If there was anything “double” about it, it was the amount, which was a heaping ladle full. Again, I was impressed that the croissant bun was able to contain that much oozing cheese.
The cheese sauce was incredibly artificial-tasting, but what do you expect from a fast food joint? It’s one of those situations where you either like or you hate that kind of unnatural orange goo. I personally enjoy it.
Another deviation from the menu description is the addition of brown mustard. While not mentioned or pictured on their website, my Croissant Dog came with a little squiggle of brown mustard on top of the cheese sauce. It added a nice little twang and a bit of a kick to the hot dog.
Speaking of the dog itself, I wasn’t going to say much, because I’ve been through the Sonic hot dog experience several times and found them downright unremarkable. This time, however, I was struck at how juicy the dog was. I’ve never had a Sonic dog this good. I don’t think they changed their dogs, so maybe I just hit them on a good day, but either way – good job, Sonic!
The real star of the Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog was the bacon. Thick, crispy and wonderfully flavorful, it tasted just like it had come straight from the cast iron skillet on my stove at home. And there were a lot of the pieces, too. This has to be some of the best fast food bacon I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much praise for Sonic before!
Overall, Sonic’s Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog was one of the most satisfying fast food hot dogs I’ve ever had. I prefer natural casing hot dogs, but this dog was juicy and satisfying. The toppings were more than generous, which is a minus if you hate processed cheese sauce, but the bacon was fantastic.
Of course, the whole point of this new dog is the croissant bun, which I declare a fine substitute to regular buns that can easily fall apart. While the buttery qualities got masked by the toppings, you can see the layers when you bite into the dog, and it is both fluffy but sturdy at the same time. While your toppings won’t land in your lap, watch out, because flakes from the bun certainly will. Just use a napkin, you savage, and enjoy your dog!
(Nutrition Facts – 510 calories, 310 calories from fat, 34 grams total of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 1670 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugars, 18 grams of protein, 15% calcium, 30% iron, 6% vitamin A, and 2% vitamin C.)
Item: Sonic Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog Purchased Price: $3.87 Size: N/A Purchased at: Sonic Drive-In Rating: 8 out of 10 Pros: Bun was fluffy but sturdy. Making weiner and buns jokes. Bacon was both plentiful and excellent quality. Hot dog was juicy and flavorful. Lots of cheese sauce. Cons: Cheese sauce was very artificial. I congratulated Sonic way to many times in this review. Croissant bun flakes will get everywhere. Whoah, that’s a lot of fat for one hot dog! Mysterious deviations from the menu description – where’s my double cheddar?
An ice cream sundae is nothing without its cone. Well, except if it’s in a cup. That’s why Madonna’s cone-bra was so ingenious — it was both cones and cups at the same time. For sanitary reasons, I should probably advise against eating ice cream out of anything that’s been near Madonna’s chest.
For a limited time, Sonic restaurants will be offering the new Waffle Cone Sundae in three flavor combinations: M&M’s Candies & Strawberry, Snickers Bar & Caramel, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate. If you would like to take a walk on the wild side, you can also choose to customize your Waffle Cone Sundae. Or, if you’re bland, boring, and allergic to fun, you can order a plain vanilla Waffle Cone Sundae, devoid of all toppings, for only a single dollar less.
Me? I stand somewhere in the middle. I enjoy an occasional thrill, but I’m nowhere near crazy enough to try crowd-surfing at a Yo-Yo Ma concert. That’s why I went with a pre-made flavor: the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae.
Hmm. Sonic certainly didn’t spare the peanut butter cup topping. As soon as the carhop handed me the ice cream cone, little bits of Reese’s started falling all over the place — probably the reason why he thrust a handful of napkins in my face a few seconds later.
I needed those napkins, too. The waffle cone itself is crisp, yet fragile. On several occasions, a single bite caused large portions of the cone to shatter. I had mistakenly left my Patrick Bateman gloves at home, so I found myself licking frantically to prevent vanilla ice cream from dripping all over my beautiful, bare hands.
Even with such a delicate cone, the ice cream never leaked out of the bottom. This was convenient, as I didn’t want to be burdened with the task of explaining the origin of sticky, white stains on the car seats to my leasing agent.
The flavor of the Waffle Cone Sundae’s vanilla soft serve base is complemented by both the peanut butter cup bits and the chocolate syrup. The first few bites combine the two toppings in perfect proportion, a familiar blend of chocolate and peanut flavors.
Regrettably, the balance doesn’t last for too long, as the top layer of the sundae disappears quickly. What remains is little more than plain vanilla ice cream in a plain waffle cone — a dessert as boring as the Christmas with Colonel Sanders vinyl record. (There was so much potential. The Little Drumstick Boy? The Twelve Days of Chicken? These songs practically write themselves.) To attain a more thorough distribution of flavors, Sonic would have been better off swirling the toppings into the vanilla ice cream base.
I was disappointed to find that the waffle cone seems weakly flavored, smothered by the vanilla ice cream during most bites. As the cone begins to double-up in an overlap toward its bottom, the waffle flavor becomes more apparent, but the cone merely serves as a vessel to hold ice cream for the majority of the sundae.
The most attractive aspect of Sonic’s Waffle Cone Sundae is the price. Ice cream isn’t always cheap in today’s economy, and I definitely don’t want to resort to eating those questionable Walmart ice cream sandwiches whenever I’m craving frozen dairy treats. For just a few cents under three dollars, the Waffle Cone Sundae is a bargain.
Despite all of its flaws, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae remains a satisfying and inexpensive ice cream cone. Both the quantity of toppings and the waffle cone itself were less than ideal, but for the price, its peanut butter and chocolate flavor is sufficient.
On the first day of Chicken,
The Colonel sent to me:
12 pounds of gravy,
11 herbs and spices,
10 tubs of white meat,
9 thighs and drumsticks,
8 buttermilk biscuits,
7 Chicken Littles,
6 wings and sauces,
5 DOUBLE DOOOOOOOWNS!
4 Famous Bowls,
3 Go Cups,
2 pot pies,
and a bucket of Original Recipeeeeee.
(Nutrition Facts – Not available on Sonic website.)
Item: Sonic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae Purchased Price: $2.89 Size: N/A Purchased at: Sonic Rating: 7 out of 10 Pros: Tasty chocolate and peanut butter flavors. Inexpensive. Twelve Days of Chicken. Cons: Fragile cone. Just plain ice cream after top layer. Forgetting my Patrick Bateman gloves at home.
Is there any sight that makes you want to scream “America!” more than a hot dog? Well, I guess the American flag. Oh, and a bald eagle. A soldier in uniform. Eating loaded cheese fries a monster truck show. Rappers sipping on purple drank in music videos. Playing video games on the toilet. The government spying on us. Going to other countries and asking, “Don’t you speak English?” Hulk Hogan.
Okay, so there are plenty of other things that say America more than a hot dog, but the fact is the beef treat still says America, and in a different voice depending on what city you are in, as places like New York and Chicago are famous for the toppings they use. There’s also pretzel buns, which totally changes the game of a dog.
Now, Sonic is changing the game again with the new Cheesy Bread Dogs.
The last time I was excited by a hot dog to the level the Cheesy Bread ones brought me to was my first and only time at Wrigley Field in 2010, when I ordered a famed Chicago Dog.
A Sonic Drive-In obviously isn’t as scenic and majestic as Wrigley but if I imagined really hard the concrete turned to grass, my car seat to a seat in the bleachers, and my Sonic car server person (their official title, I’m assuming) morphed into Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. Usually in my dreams I’m the one delivering hot dogs to Starlin! I mean… that’s never happened.
I did go into a slight panic when the Sonic worker brought the food to my car, as I had never eaten at the drive-in before and was not sure if these people get tipped or not. He dropped a “well, have a nice day,” and then hesitated before leaving, so I’m assuming I was supposed to tip him. Great, like I need more bad karma!
I ordered both varieties, Garlic Parmesan and Ultimate Cheese & Bacon, but what you want to know about is the cheesy bread, right? I hope so; otherwise I look like a damn fool.
The first thing you’ll notice before you even taste the bun is how greasy it is. I use a lot of napkins to begin with but I really went over board on these. You can just poke it gently and your finger would be glistening like you just wiped your sweaty brow, which maybe you got from playing pickup basketball, or walking your dog on an exceptionally sweltering afternoon.
This minor inconvenience is quickly dismissed once you taste the bread though. It’s very doughy, and kind of reminded me a stuffed crust pizza because of the cheese flavor, which was a pleasant cheddar. It is a thick bun, too, and I’d be careful ordering two as you may come to regret it later. I know I did. But that’s one for the vault.
The better of the two was easily the Ultimate Cheese & Bacon. Why? AMERICA! It’s the same thing as the Cheesy Bacon Pretzel Dog Sonic offers, but when you replace the pretzel bun with cheesy bread you really get one ultimate cheese and bacon experience, hence the name of the hot dog. It’s a hot mess of cheese, bacon and grease, and I’m using hot mess in a good way. The salty bacon, mild cheddar on the bun, and creamy, sharp cheddar cheese sauce blend together in an explosion of tasty, salty goodness.
The only knock is it’s a bit salty. I happen to enjoy salt so it was fine by me but if you’re not in love with a salty taste I would look to the Garlic Parmesan Cheesy Bread Dog.
It has a creamy garlic parmesan sauce and onions. I was a bit confused by this one, as I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the sauce, and the onions seemed out of place to me. I think the onions could easily be lost and the dog would be just fine. The sauce seemed out of balance to me, as it was unlike other garlic parmesan sauce I have tasted. I suspect too much or too little of one of garlic or parmesan. Still tasty but could have been better.
Again, the cheesy bread makes these dogs quite filling (especially the Ultimate Cheese & Bacon) so unless you want to see how both taste, just order one. Maybe complement it with a nice slushie? Don’t complement it with tip confusion though. Seeing that Sonic worker do a sad Charlie Brown walk after not receiving a tip has been in my nightmares ever since!
(Nutrition Facts – Ultimate Cheese & Bacon – 550 calories, 290 calories from fat, 32 grams total fat, 14 grams saturated fat, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 1580 mg sodium, 47 grams total carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams sugar, and 21 grams protein. Garlic Parmesan – Not available on website.)
Item: Sonic Cheesy Bread Dog (Ultimate Cheese & Bacon and Garlic Parmesan) Purchased Price: $2.89 each Size: N/A Purchased at: Sonic Drive-In Rating: 8 out of 10 (Ultimate Cheese & Bacon) Rating: 5 out of 10 (Garlic Parmesan) Pros: Bun is cheesy, doughy, and delicious. Ultimate Cheese & Bacon ingredients blend perfectly. America! Hulk Hogan. The power of imagination. Cons: Bun is annoyingly greasy. Unbalanced garlic to parmesan ratio in sauce. Purple drank. Spying government.
Sound horrifyingly disgusting? That’s because it was an April Fool’s joke. It was a promotional gag for their Summer of Shakes, which includes Oreo Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Covered Jalapeño.
Does that last one sound horrifyingly disgusting? That’s because it was an Apri- oh, shit. It wasn’t a joke. The Sonic Chocolate Covered Jalapeño Shake is real.
When I got my shake, I was disappointed it came in a pedestrian Styrofoam cup. The promo pictures had a clear cup that showed little pepper pieces in the shake, as well as jalapeño pieces on the whipped cream. Presumably, this is why it was initially called the Chocolate Covered Jalapeño Shake, but is now called the Jalapeño Chocolate Shake.
It looked so innocent at first. Just a chocolate shake. I dipped a spoon into the cup, expecting to come up with some little pieces, but instead I found…
Yeah. Whole sliced jalapeños, right in the shake. What the fuck.
Wanting a better look, I unceremoniously dumped the shake into a glass, and the results gave me no encouragement.
Using a straw with my shake, as God intended, it initially tasted like a chocolate shake that was somehow…off. If I didn’t know there were peppers in it, I would have tasted it and thought, huh, they did something weird to this. There wasn’t any real spiciness to it, just an offness, like maybe the chocolate syrup had gone bad. I’ve never had the experience of tasting that, but that’s the closest I could come to a comparison.
And then I sucked in my first piece of jalapeño.
You know how sometimes you’ll get a chunky shake and accidentally suck a piece straight to the back of your throat? That’s exactly what happened to me. But, instead of a delicious piece of Oreo cookie, it was a motherfucking jalapeño.
And not just some pedestrian pickled jalapeño, either. A fresh jalapeño.
I did that thing where you use your tongue to move the piece back to the front of your mouth and started chewing it, but the damage had already been done. Jalapeño juice burned the back of my throat, causing me to choke and gag a little.
After getting over that, I chewed the jalapeño piece. My poor mouth was so confused. “I love jalapenos!” Some of my taste buds said. “I love chocolate shake!” others joined in enthusiastically. But then the two clashed, and both sides screamed.
“AAAAHHHHHHH THIS IS SO WRONG WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US!”
“WE LOVE JALAPENOS WHY IS THERE CHOCOLATE SHAKE IN HERE!”
“WE LOVE CHOCOLATE SHAKE WHY ARE THERE JALAPENOS IN HERE!”
At this point, I was chatting with a friend, who kindly informed me, “I heard you don’t get the full effect unless you muddle it first.”
I hated this idea with a passion. But I had to admit he was probably right.
So I smashed my straw down into the glass, hearing the sickening squish of peppers releasing their capsaicin like a hundred villagers being reduced to a slick yet chunky mash of viscera under the foot of a vengeful giant.
Did I mention that I hate this friend?
What was once an off-tasting chocolate shake with the occasional nasty jalapeño surprise turned into a creamy drink of unending horror. The peppers had now blended efficiently with the chocolate shake, resulting in a taste that, and I’m not over-exaggerating for effect here, made me think I might vomit.
All that pepper taste that had been released and was now free to mix with the chocolate and ice cream, and it’s hard to even describe the outcome. It wasn’t just spicy chocolate. It was jalapeño peppers a la mode with some chocolate. It was bitter and sickly sweet and spicy and sad and I honestly made that face you’d make if a hippo flung poo into your open mouth.
After a few sips, I could take no more. What the hell was I going to do with this thing? I was afraid if I tossed it down the kitchen sink, I might actually toss my cookies along with it.
So I did the only thing I could – I chucked it into the dumpster outside. I should have covered it with cow excrement to make a more pleasant smell or burned that dumpster down and buried the ashes. But that’s probably a felony, so I just threw it in there and hoped no dumpster divers had the misfortune of finding it before it went to the landfill.
I’ve eaten a lot of terrible things in my journey as a food reviewer, but there are a few that really stand out. The #1 on my list has always been Jones Bacon Flavored Soda, and I was reminded of it often as I tried to down the Sonic Jalapeño Chocolate Shake.
With both I experienced a grey, mushy feeling of wrongness deep inside my soul; a knowledge that this is an experience that will stay with me forever; nausea; and the idea that a company had taken a flavor I loved and ruined it forever. Two flavors, in this case.
I really thought I would hate the Sonic Jalapeño Chocolate Shake before I tried it, but thought it wouldn’t be as bad as I’d anticipated. I was wrong. It is so, so much worse.
(Nutrition Facts – Small size — 670 calories, 280 calories from fat, 31 grams of total fat, 23 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 480 milligrams of sodium, 89 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 56 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein, 20% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C, 26% calcium, and 5% iron..)
Item: Sonic Jalapeño Chocolate Shake Purchased Price: $3.49 Size: Small Purchased at: Sonic Rating: 0 out of 10 Pros: The chocolate shake only tasted “off” before I muddled it. I guess using fresh jalapeño peppers deserves a mention? The cherry on top hadn’t touched the shake, so it was okay. Cons: Muddling the jalapeños was the worst idea in the world. Um, everything about this shake is a terrible idea. Sonic had the audacity to charge me an extra $0.60 for the jalapeños, for some reason. Burning public dumpsters is probably illegal. Fuck you for scarring my soul, Sonic.
Sonic recently added four new 100% pure beef hot dogs to their menu â€“ The Chili Cheese Coney, The All-American Dog, The Chicago Dog and The New York Dog. I chose to review the latter two because a.) I thought they had the most interesting toppings and b.) both Chicagoans and New Yorkers take their grub seriously. Lock two of them in a room together that has the word “pizza” written on the wall and see what happens. I’ll give you a hint: bloodshed.
There’s a similar situation with hot dogs. Just Google “chicago vs new york hot dogs” and you’ll see quite a few discussions on the topic. The Chicago dog is iconic, of course; it has its own name and everything. The New York dog doesn’t really have its own name, but put hot dog and New York in the same sentence and anyone who has been there will immediately have an image in their head. I will get to that image soon. Right now, here’s what I imagine a Chicagoan and a New Yorker locked in a room together with the word “hot dog” written on the wall would be like:
New Yorker: “‘How you doin’! We gots the best damn dawgs in New Yawk! I’m just sayin’!”
Chicagoan: “Dat’s cryap! Da Chicago Dog be the best dog use ever taste!”
New Yorker: “Yo, bruh! You bettah bounce, because that is mad bull right thah!”
Chicagoan: “Use think so, do use? Well now we gonna get inta dis!”
The conversation quickly devolves, and two minutes later both sweaty men have bloody noses and their Giants and Bears jerseys are torn and sullied. It’s just a bad situation all around.
(Note: The above scenario uses stereotypical language and situations and is intended as parody [bad parody, but parody nonetheless] only. In other words, please do not track me down and hurt me.)
Now that I feel I’ve been sufficiently offensive, let’s get to the dogs themselves.
The Chicago Dog
I’ve never been to Chicago, but I have had a Chicago Dog before. I respect that any Chicagoan would tell me I haven’t actually had a Chicago Dog unless I’ve been to Chicago; mostly because I’m a soft little girl from the suburbs and anyone who grew up in Chicago probably knows how to beat me up at least three different ways. So let’s say I’ve had a Chicago-like Dog.
I have to say, I was impressed, at least on paper, at how authentic Sonic tried to make their Chicago Dog. As they describe it, “Got love for the Windy City? Then try SONICâ€™s Premium Beef Chicago Dog. A 100% pure beef hot dog topped with pickle, relish, tomato, sport peppers, celery salt and mustard all served up in a soft, warm poppy seed bun.” From what I know, all those ingredients sound pretty legit. I like the addition of the poppy seed bun; very traditional, but could have been easily overlooked.
All of the toppings on my dog were very fresh. The tomatoes were juicy and the dill pickle spear was crisp. The sport peppers brought some serious heat; my nose was running by the time I was done with the wiener. The one topping I could have done without was the sweet relish; the other toppings were tangy and savory, and the relish just didn’t feel like it belonged. However, it is a traditional Chicago Dog topping, so I’ll chalk it up to personal preference. Who am I to argue with an icon?
The Sonic Chicago Dog is not something you’re going to want to eat while driving. With so many toppings, many of them juicy, you’re gonna get your hands dirty. Also, the sport peppers kept sliding around, trying to avoid my mouth like Jonah attempting to escape the whale. Ain’t gonna happen. And, of course, the poppy seeds flew everywhere and stuck to my pickle/tomato/relish/mustard smothered hands. Not the most portable of foods.
My biggest beef (how many times can I use that pun before it gets old? Answer: once) with this hot dog is actually the dog itself. While the toppings were fresh and tasty and the bun was soft, the dog was actually not very good. I’ve been hooked on Nathanâ€™s all-beef natural casing wieners for a while now, so maybe I’m spoiled, but you can taste quality, and these dogs tasted incredibly pedestrian. Whether it’s the 100% beef dogs they’re using or the way they cook them, the vessel of all those delicious toppings was really disappointing. I know promoting them as 100% beef is supposed to be a good thing, but maybe a little pig anus or two would have added some more and/or better flavor.
The New York Dog
While I have never visited Chicago, I have, however, been to New York several times, and I have had several hot dogs from vendors on the street. Here’s the previously aforementioned image: standing at a small cart on the sidewalk while people brush past you, a man with a questionable grasp on the English language opens a lid. Hot steam rises into the cold New York air, and he reaches in with his tongs and removes a hot dog from the water boiling within. He then places it in a bun, which is sitting in a little paper holder. Sometimes you have options; sometimes the man will just choose your toppings for you. He does not have time for you to hem and haw. Brown mustard is applied, then sauerkraut or maybe some chopped white onions. He hands it to you, and you are now holding a New York hot dog. All of this happens in seconds. You may look around, confused; but at least you have a hot dog in your hands!
Interesting bit of trivia about New York: if you ever ask someone for yellow mustard, they will look at you like you are a being from another planet. I’m not even sure they sell yellow mustard in stores. You’re certainly not going to find it at a hot dog cart, or a baseball stadium, or pretty much anywhere else. In New York, it’s brown mustard or GTFO.
Like the Chicago Dog, Sonic stays impressively true to tradition with the New York Dog. “Get a taste of the Big Apple with SONICâ€™s Premium Beef New York Dog. A 100% pure beef hot dog grilled to perfection and topped with spicy brown mustard, grilled onions and crunchy sauerkraut in a soft, warm bakery bun.”
Sounds great, but somehow, things went wrong. As you can see, the mustard got all over the bun, but that’s probably because it was in a sleeve so things got a little smushed. That wasn’t the main problem with the mustard, though. It was oddly colored for brown mustard; too bright, too yellow, and tasted a bit off. I’ve had lots of different brands of brown mustards, and I’ve never seen or tasted anything like it. It was almost like they’d diluted brown mustard with yellow mustard.
The sauerkraut was sparse, but I was okay with that, because it, too, tasted off. The strips were thinner than normal sauerkraut, it was limp, and it lacked the pickled tang of other sauerkrauts I’ve had. It also had a strange aftertaste. Almost bitter, I think. The grilled onions just seemed old and limp, like they’d been sitting out all day. And, of course, the dog itself suffered the same problems as the Chicago Dog.
I like the concept of the Premium Dogs and applaud Sonic for really striving to get the Dogs to be true to the region that they originated. The Chicago Dog had lots of fresh, tasty toppings that were authentic to a real Chicago Dog, but make sure you’ve got a good bit of table real estate and a handful of napkins if you try one. The New York Dog looked great on paper, but all the toppings were somehow fundamentally flawed. I don’t even know how you can screw up brown mustard or sauerkraut, but Sonic somehow found a way, and that was disappointing. Both hot dogs suffered from poor flavor; I don’t know where Sonic gets their 100% pure beef Premium Dogs, but they should look into finding another vendor.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1 hot dog â€“ Chicago Dog â€“ 440 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams total of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 2300 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugars, 14 grams of protein, calcium 10%, iron 30%, vitamin A 4%, vitamin C 8%. New York Dog â€“ 350 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams total of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1290 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugars, 14 grams of protein, calcium 6%, iron 30%, vitamin A 2%, vitamin C 10%.)
Item: Sonic Premium Beef Hot Dog (Chicago Dog, New York Dog) Price: $1.99 Size: 1 hot dog Purchased at: Sonic Drive-In Rating: 6 out of 10 (Chicago Dog) Rating: 3 out of 10 (New York Dog) Pros: Chicago Dog had fresh, authentic toppings. Chicago vs. New York. Fluffy hot dog buns. Going a whole review without making a wiener/mouth joke. New York hot dog carts. Cons: Hot dogs were not top quality. Bad parodies. New York toppings were all flawed. Recycled beef puns. Chicago Dog was pretty messy.