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Sonic Drive-In: A History


Create a Menu Item

Sonic releases many new menu items and offers over 160,000 drink combinations. Design your own Sonic menu item and drink and write a short description underneath the picture. What do you like about these new menu items? How do you think they would work in a drive-in setting? What special features, if any, would need to be added to the item to make it easier to eat in a drive-in?

Create a Logo

Sonic’s sign has changed several times throughout the years. Come up with a name and design a sign for your own drive-in restaurant!

Be a Carhop!

Sonic servers must learn to listen closely to orders coming in over the intercom system to correctly make an order! You can practice these listening skills with a group of friends. Gather in a straight line, and have the person at the beginning silently read one of the orders from the list below. Whisper the order to the person next to you, then have them whisper the order to the person next to them, continuing until the order reaches the “carhop” at the end of the line. The “carhop” will then say the order out loud, and see if the order is correct. Take turns being the “carhop” and see how quickly you can send the order down the line! Here are some examples of orders that you can use ranging in difficulty, or you can come up with your own. 


  1. One large strawberry limeade
  2. Three corn dogs


  1. One kid’s meal with a grilled cheese and lemonade
  2. One grilled chicken sandwich and a small diet soda


  1. One large peach iced tea, medium tater tots, and a medium chocolate shake
  2. Two ice cream cones, a bacon cheeseburger, and a medium blue raspberry slush

Skating carhops are an iconic part of the Sonic dining experience (courtesy of The Chicago Business Journal). 7

Make a Budget

In this activity, you are going to be pretending to run your own Sonic restaurant! You will need to budget the money you have to start with to build your restaurant carefully. The first chart has prices that are necessary to start your restaurant.

Starting payment to Sonic


Starting food supplies


Cups, bags, and other accessories




Soda machine


Other restaurant equipment


Manager salary

$50,000 per year

Signs and intercoms


What is the total of these prices added together?


If you are starting your restaurant with $1,000,000, how much is left over after you subtract the starting cost?


Now that you’ve added the essential costs together, take a look at the next chart! These are additional costs that can help your business grow. Take your remaining money, and choose which things you would like to spend it on to help your drive-in be successful. Remember, the more carhops you hire, or the more grills you have, the faster you can serve customers. If you run more ads, more people will want to come to your restaurant. What do you think you want to spend your money on?

Newspaper ad

$3,000 per week

Radio ad

$1,500 per week

Local television ad

$500 per ad

New carhop hire

$19,000 per person (for 1 year)

Indoor seating


Kid’s toys

$8,000 per new set of toys

Extra drink machine


Extra stove/grill


Extra intercom/cash register


Discussion Questions
What did you end up spending your money on?

Why were those things important to you?

What other things do you think drive-in owners need to budget for?

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