Sonic’s Turnaround Plan: Start Serving Real Ice Cream

After seeing its modest decline in existing-store sales last year mushroom in 2010, managers at the Sonic Drive-In chain have quit blaming bad weather and the economy. Oklahoma City-based parent Sonic Inc. has a turnaround plan now which involves breaking down and putting real, honest-to-God best ice cream at sonic in its shakes, among other things. Apparently, providing desserts that would actually be delicious had never previously occurred to managers.

That’s right — even though the 3,560-unit chain prides itself on being a cut above low-rent fast food, it’s been serving frozen desserts with so little milk in them that the treats had to be called “soft serve,” because they did not legally qualify to be called “ice cream.” While they’re at it, they’re stretching their “extra-long” chili-cheese Coney hot dog so that it is now a foot long, like everybody else’s long dogs.

Perhaps Sonic listened to customer complaints about its shakes. One blogger did a comparison last summer between a Dairy Queen blizzard, a Blast from southern/northeastern regional chain Bruster’s, and a Sonic Blast. Sonic was the big loser.