REVIEW: Sonic Broccoli Cheddar Tots

Sonic Broccoli Cheddar Tots Closeup

In the pantheon of deep-fried fast food sides, you’ve got some notable inclusions. Arby’s curly fries, for example. McDonald’s fries. Taco Bell’s…fries. Okay, so most of these are fries. But what if you don’t like your fried potato served up in an elongated rectangular fashion? Well, there’s always Sonic’s tater tots.

Long recognized as fast foods’ champion of the tatered tot, Sonic’s pillowy potato barrel is so impossible to top that I hadn’t bothered to try its version of the French fry until earlier this year. (And with sincere apologies to Sonic’s head chef, I wasn’t missing much.)

But, okay, what about those of you out there who don’t like potatoes at all, in any form? (I know this sounds crazy to most, but I actually work with a lady who hates potatoes of all sorts — mashed, smashed, fried, totted, home-styled, and even chipped. So, it’s a thing, trust me.) What are the Elena’s of the world to do when they go get a burger from Sonic? The chain’s food scientists have heard you, anti-potato people, and they present to you their newest offering, Broccoli Cheddar Tots.

According to Sonic’s website, they are “warm broccoli and melty cheddar cheese in a tot-sized, crispy coating. Served with ranch for dipping!” The important thing to note is that these are not TATER tots stuffed with broccoli and cheese; there is no tater here at all. And while that idea sounds pretty great — tots stuffed with broccoli and cheese! Or impregnated with bacon! Or infused with chili and hot dog bits! — this is, simply put, broccoli and cheese, deep fried.

And how are they?

Really great, honestly.

Sonic Broccoli Cheddar Tots Innards

The exterior coating is a little less grittily textured than Sonic’s typical tot covering. It’s more of a cheese curd coating, really, which provides a bit more (buttery?) crispiness. The inside is simple, as you might imagine — piping hot cheddar cheese and improbably fresh-tasting broccoli. The cheese is a softer, creamier cheddar than you’d find in, once again, a cheese curd, or in Sonic’s dearly departed Ched’ R’ Bites (RIP), you beautiful angel.

The broccoli itself gets lost a bit in the breading, but I mean, how healthy do you really want these to taste? In most of my pieces, the veggie’s texture was almost that of a steamed piece of broccoli; it had plenty of give, but every once in a while, an occasional slight snap. It melded harmoniously with the cheese and managed to impart plenty of broccoli deliciousness without being too aggressive about the fact that, hey, you’re eating broccoli.

Sonic Broccoli Cheddar Tots Ranch

The Broccoli Cheddar Tots come with a side of ranch for dipping. While you don’t necessarily need it to enjoy the side, being from the Midwest, I’m of the firm belief that everything is better dipped in that white, tangy goodness. Sonic’s ranch is a good one, too, with just the right amount of zest and creaminess.

While many things I’ve read about these tots try to push them as some sort of bite-sized broccoli-cheddar casserole, I think that’s a bit silly. But as a nice alternative side to fries, rings, or regular tots, these are an excellent offering. It’s too bad they will only be around until November 28th or until they run out.

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: Small (10 tots)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 210 calories, 13 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 810 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Banana Pudding Shake

Sonic Banana Pudding Shake Cherry

The first thing you should know before we really get into this review is that I love banana-flavored anything. Are you one of those insane people who pitch your banana Laffy Taffy or Runts? I will gladly take both off your hands. But my lust isn’t relegated to artificial banana flavoring alone, oh no. I am just as wild about bananas that come in a pie or in bread. You might say that I *checks notes* go ape for bananas.

There is, however, one blind spot in my yellow-fruit fanaticism: banana pudding. Honestly, it has less to do with my disinterest in that particular flavor and more to do with the fact that my pudding consumption is probably below average. According to an actual website I saw on the internet, 150 million Americans ate pudding in 2020; I’m honestly not sure if I was one of them. (And if I did, it was a very unimpressive amount — likely a single pudding cup.)

So how, then, would I find Sonic’s new Banana Pudding Shake? Let’s review.

Sonic’s shake-take on this Southern dessert classic features vanilla ice cream, banana pudding, banana pieces, Nilla wafers, whipped topping, and a maraschino cherry. As expected, this shake is VERY banana-centric.

The pudding was indiscernible from the vanilla ice cream, which was probably due to, you know, the blending process. So really, it ended up tasting like soupy banana ice cream. Thick chunks of banana abounded throughout the concoction necessitating the need for a spoon at times.

Sonic Banana Pudding Shake Top

The whipped topping was creamy and sweet and provided a nice blanket for a mess of crushed up Nilla wafers. Speaking of, I was surprised and impressed that the wafers held their crunch for as long as they did; Nilla makes a sturdy wafer, it seems. The cherry was probably fine, but I don’t know since my daughter stole and ate it when I wasn’t looking.

Sonic Banana Pudding Shake Soupy

This is the part of the review where you might be wondering how this compares to Sonic’s regular banana shake. Well, for starters, it’s much runnier. The pudding compromises the consistency of the treat, as one might expect. It does, however, also elevate the banana taste as well as add a nuanced layer of additional creaminess. The wafer pieces are also a noticeably different component, adding a welcome textural variance to the affair.

So is it worth it? For sure, but ONLY if you’re crazy about banana. This thing may even be too much for a casual banana fan. And if you don’t like bananas at all, it’s sort of weird that you read this whole thing. But thank you for your time, regardless, and I hope you have a great day.

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: Small
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (small) 760 calories, 38 grams of fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 24 grams of saturated fat, 100 mg of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 94 grams of total carbohydrates, 64 gram of total sugars, less than 2 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Twisted Texan Cheeseburger

Sonic Twisted Texan Cheeseburger

I am always on board when an American fast food chain in a non-US location unveils its version of regional American fare.

Take, for instance, McDonald’s “Big America Burgers” in Japan. The most recent iteration of this popular offering gave Japanese consumers the Texas 2, the Idaho, the Miami, and the Manhattan burgers. Some of these have very reasonable — and dare I say interesting — inclusions. A hash brown on the Idaho burger, for example, is a particularly fetching choice. And then sometimes, something seems to get lost in translation. While I applaud the pastrami topping on the Manhattan, I’m a little perplexed by the mozzarella and “sour cream sauce.”

Ditto, McDonald’s “Great Taste of America” burgers, which have popped up multiple times in the UK, the most recent being 2019. While I am impressed that the “Alabama Chicken” has a white BBQ sauce, the “New York Stack” is all over the road by serving it on a sesame and poppy seed bagel (nice!), but topping it with “bacon, cheese, creamy coleslaw, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, and pickles.” Because nothing says “New York” like mixing up your coleslaw with ketchup, mustard, and cheese, right?

Sonic Twisted Texan Cheeseburger  1

Sonic’s “Twisted Texan” Burger (or footlong, quarter-pound hot dog, if you’d rather) doesn’t really come close to some of those weird combinations, to be sure, but it also isn’t very inspired. It is a regular quarter-pound beef patty on a regular bun, topped with its regular chili, a cheese slice, and “crispy onion strings.” Do these things work well together? Sure, I suppose so.

I’m on record as being a fan of Sonic’s patties, and I usually have good luck with its buns, too. Its chili — which is almost like a Coney-style chili-sauce, if you’ve never had it — is great on its dogs and tots, and it’s fine here. The single slice of cheese got lost in the mix, which ultimately made it inessential; a second slice might’ve added more oomph.

Sonic Twisted Texan Cheeseburger  2

Now that brings us to the onion strings.

While the first bite or two of the burger noticeably benefited from them, the “crispy” exterior of the strings quickly turned to mush, making the veggie indistinguishable in consistency and taste from the chili. I’m not sure how you combat this unless you use whole onion rings. (Which, you know, could’ve been done; I’m not sure that onion strings are any more or less “Texan” than onion rings.)

In the end, this is just an okay burger, but I’m not sure what screams “TEXAS!” about it, other than the red chili. Which, I mean, is sort of Texas-y? But it’s also something that you can get a really good bowl of just about anywhere. How could have Sonic made this more of a Texas thing? Oh, I don’t know… by putting it on Texas toast, perhaps? Or maybe adding brisket. Or a tiny little, sandwich-sized cowboy hat. Anything more than just “chili and onion strings.”

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 1030 calories, 68 grams of fat, 17 gram of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1940 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Oreo Big Scoop Cookie Dough Blast

Sonic Oreo Big Scoop Cookie Dough Blast Big Scoop

I recently stumbled across something on the internet suggesting that Missouri actually has 12 seasons. Right now, we are in the Spring of Deception, which is past Fool’s Spring and Second Winter, and just ahead of Third Winter, the Pollening, and Actual Spring. As funny as this is, it is also hauntingly accurate.

And here in the Spring of Deception, the weather has been in the upper 60s and lower 70s, which means it is a perfectly reasonable time to try Sonic’s new Oreo Big Scoop Cookie Dough Blast. (We have a chance of snow next weekend, which will usher in Third Winter, but I suppose there are plenty of people who say there is never a bad time for frozen desserts. Then there are those who crave ice cream even more when it’s cold; if you’re in either of these camps, please ignore my preamble.)

Here’s the bottom line about this Blast: I would gleefully consume this thing in real Winter, even the one we just got out of where we spent days in a row without the temperature getting above 0. It is just that good.

Sonic Oreo Big Scoop Cookie Dough Blast Diggin In

Sonic describes its new offering as “Real Ice Cream blended with cookie dough bites then topped with even more cookie dough bites, Oreo cookie pieces, and a big scoop of Oreo chocolate chip cookie dough.”

The first thing of note is that this is a legit Oreo cookie dough scoop. A fat golfball-sized chunk of tongue-numbingly delicious dough takes up a great deal of real estate on top of the Blast, meaning that it is quite possible to nick a nice spoonful with every bite. I’ve never had Oreo cookie dough, but from what I can tell, it’s like if some lovable klutz knocked a handful of Oreo into the batch of chocolate chip cookie dough they were whipping up in the mixer. In other words, divine.

Then, peppered around the dough mountain is a large amount of crumbled Oreo along with more dough pellets.

Sonic Oreo Big Scoop Cookie Dough Blast Cookie Dough Closeup

And here’s where I’ll explain why, while this thing is tremendous, it’s not perfect— the cookie dough pieces are a bit weird. They are VERY uniform in shape and size, which makes me wonder about their origin story. Additionally, the texture is a bit odd. Contrasted with the Oreo’s crunch and Sonic’s vanilla ice cream’s smooth creaminess, the cookie dough pieces come across as almost gummy.

Sonic Oreo Big Scoop Cookie Dough Blast Spoon

But it’s a small quibble, really, as there is plenty of other magic happening in this styrofoam cylinder to make me forgive such a minor transgression.

You’ll also note that the nutrition is, well, maybe don’t even look at that. Because honestly, if you’re eating this, you know what you’re getting into. But I will suggest that I got a small, and I was actually satisfied eating about a fourth of it. This feels like the sort of thing you might want to split with a significant other. You could also probably make multiple desserts out of it.

No matter what you do, though, you should definitely make a plan to eat one. You’ll be glad you did.

Purchased Price: $4.79
Size: Small
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 820 calories, 50 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 106 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 65 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Mesquite Butter Bacon Cheeseburger

Sonic Mesquite Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Whole

While not a lightning rod of conversation like, oh, say, pineapple on pizza, or ketchup on a hot dog, there are plenty of passionate parties on both sides of the “BBQ sauce on a hamburger” debate.

If you are on the oppositional side — believing that the “devil’s ketchup” has no place on a hamburger — this review probably isn’t for you. Nothing I have to say will convince you that it is a fine and just condiment to top your sandwich. If, however, you are staunchly on the “pro” side of the aisle, or are at the very least willing to keep an open mind and “see how things go,” you’ll want to read on.

Though this isn’t the drive-in chain’s first foray into buttered patties — it’s had a garlic butter version on at least a couple of occasions — or its first dance with BBQ sauce on a burger (its “hickory” variety of the sauce is still a customizable addition on the app). It is its first attempt at melding the two.

And so does it work?

In most ways, yes.

Sonic Mesquite Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Top

I’ve always been a fan of Sonic’s bacon. It feels like it runs a little thicker than most of their competitor’s, and it fits in well on this sandwich, adding some much needed chew. The BBQ sauce is described as a “honey” sauce, and it is, indeed, sweet. Because of the sauce and the “smoky mesquite butter” that tops the patty, you should know that this is a sloppy affair.

Sonic Mesquite Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Closeup

Additionally, I’ve always been a fan of Sonic’s American cheese. It melts well and tastes perfectly American. (Though I will say, two slices on a burger this size feels like a bit much; one would likely suffice.) The patty itself is juicy and definitely less dry than most other fast food burgers.

Though the toasted brioche bun isn’t anything special, it held up nicely to the onslaught of liquids. And while I am typically a “take-it-or-leave-it” connoisseur of pickles on a burger, these ones really stood out. Their tart acidity melded beautifully with the sauce’s sweetness, and their crunch added yet another excellent texture to the proceeding.

Sonic Mesquite Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Split

So what didn’t I like about this burger?

Really, my major complaint was with the lettuce. Quite frankly, I’m not sure lettuce even belongs on this style of burger. Even if you can make an argument that it does, you’re not likely to prove your point with the limp, wet, and warm shrubbery found here. Nor did the grilled onions add much, except to provide an arsenal of more small things to slide out of the burger’s bottom on a flume of butter with each bite. And finally, there wasn’t much of a “smokiness,” either, which, if you’re crowning your burger as “mesquite,” feels like a bit of a miss.

If you’re a BBQ burger fan, I’m confident you’ll like this. Just, you know, hold the lettuce. And maybe the onions. And what if you got a side of onion rings and slapped a couple of those fried halos under the bun? Hey Sonic, give me a call and let’s talk product development.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 690 calories,41 grams of fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 17 gram of saturated fat, 1780 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of total carbohydrates, 18 gram of total sugars, 3 gram of fiber, and 33 grams of protein.