Sonic Milk Shakes

Here is a little known fact about Gallup, NM that might come in handy if you are passing by there on June 20 some year. On this day, you can purchase a shake for half price. Now I happen to know why they do this because I am an educated person. But I wasn’t about to post this interesting fact on my blog unless I was absolutely sure about what I knew.

Hungry for lunch, Bernie and I drive up to Sonic hoping to get a burger. Sonic likes to act like the drive-in foods like the ones popular in the 60’s, so they have parking stalls with menus posted  where you are supposed to drive up and a waitron comes out on roller skates to take your order – true! But we needed to get out of our car and stretch our legs, so we asked a waitron if that was okay. She said, “Sure, there are a couple of tables out front where you can sit.” So we parked and went over to the tables and there was a menu there.

“Chicago hot-dog!” I was ecstatic. A guy came out on roller skates and a hula skirt over his black slacks and three leis around his neck, I said. “I would like the Chicago hotdog meal and can I have a small milk shake with that instead of a soda?” He said, “Sure but it will have to be a medium milk shake or you will have to order it separately.” The devil in disguise.

“Of course,” I said. Then I added, “I was born and raised in Chicago, so my expectations are high.”

“I will alert the cook,” the guy said.

Bernie ordered a burger and fries and a diet pop. By the time our food came, I was regretting the shake. We ended up sharing his Coke, then sharing the shake. The hot dog was clearly not Vienna all beef, but the bun had poppy seeds and the rest of the ingredients were there: large pickle, mustard, chopped onion, and celery salt. As we ate, I noticed the sign: “Sonic milk shake – half price all day – June 20.”

“I bet that is because of the solstice,” I said.

Bernie didn’t know what the solstice was. “That is when the northern hemisphere is tilted as much toward to sun as it wants to go and starts going in the other direction. It is the first day of summer.” Bernie thought I was silly. Who in their right mind would celebrate the solstice?

I said I would ask to make sure because I thought this might turn into a blog story. Sonic doesn’t have inside seating. If you step into the door to their establishment, you are in their kitchen. I felt awkward doing that – kind of like going backstage at the theater. So I just stook there waiting for a waitron to come rolling out. Eventually one did and I stopped her in her rolly-tracks.

“Is the reason your are offering shakes at half price today because of the solstice?” Her lovely Hawiian smile froze on her lovely round brown face (the servers were all Navaho but looked totally Hawiian with their little leis and hula skirts).

“I don’t know,” she said. “But you can ask the  people inside. Just go right in.”

So I did. Since they were not used to customers coming into their work space, I was greeted by six faces that looked up like deer staring in to a headlight (a Minnesota phenomenon). One held a spatula in mid-air and I assumed him to be the cook. The woman standing next to him, clearly the oldest, I thought might be the manager. “Excuse me,” I began, “I just have one question. Is the reason you are offering milk shakes for half price because of the solstice?” Someone blink, but noone answered. I thought I’d try less academic language. “Is the reason for the sale on shakes because this is first day of summer?”

Finally the guy with the roller skates that took our order said, “I think it is becaue this is the longest day of the year.” The rest of the staff seemed relieved that one of them had an answer.

“Thankyou,” I said. After I got in the car I said to Bernie, “I thought this is stuff everybody knows. It is all about the earth’s tilting…”

“I know!” he said. “I guess the Sonic staff just haven’t  learned that yet.”

“I should have stayed and explained it to them,” I said.

“Glad that was one of those delayed thoughts,” he said and he turned onto I-40 going west.

3 thoughts on “Sonic Milk Shakes”

  1. This is an excellent story. It should be shared in a marketing seminar or something. The best marketing is the kind that makes so much sense, that no one can remember what in the world brought it about in the first place. Even if it involved the tilt and rotation of the earth.

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