9. Sonic: SuperSonic Double Cheeseburger
The Build: Two thin patties glued together by two slices of American cheese; shredded lettuce and diced onions cut small so can re-enjoy them when removing them from the cracks in your seat; tomato slices and crinkle-cut pickles; choice of mustard, mayo, ketchup; standard-issue diner bun
“Where the hell is there a Sonic?” is a phrase frequently uttered by city folk inundated with the fast food chain’s long-running commercials, featuring two moderately funny guys yukking it up in a '50s style drive-in. But it’s also a nifty trick because the absence of a Sonic in most big cities means that when you see one off a highway, you’re immediately drawn to it. You find yourself driving down backroads, becoming increasingly hungry until you finally arrive, order a SuperSonic Double Cheeseburger, and scarf it down in rod-weary desperation. The anticipation and increased hunger create a psychological illusion that the burger is something more than an ultra-basic, forgettable experience, one heightened by the presence of tater tots and a bevy of exceptionally delicious shakes.
It’s just a theory... one that I thought about as I drove 20 miles through Los Angeles traffic to get a taste of Sonic -- my first since driving down a winding mountain highway road in rural Oregon -- only to discover that the place was closed because, yup, they were filming one of those commercials. When I finally got my hands on this burger, though, the heightened anticipation was like a blast of MSG on the first bite, which was exhilarating. After that, it was a solidly OK burger. -- AK