What you don't know about Sonic's famous slushes

Sonic boasts a figurative metric ton of food and beverages on the drive-in chain's menu, including indulgent morsels like bacon double cheeseburgers and "168,894 possible combinations" of drinks. The sheer magnitude of choices can prove overwhelming (especially if you didn't have an idea of what you wanted before you rolled up). But a perennially popularly pick of the fast food — and fast skate — eatery is its selection of slushes. Whether you're a purist who likes your flavor straight or a slushie-rebel who craves add-ins like candy (hellooo, Nerds!), this signature line-up of libations is impossible to ignore. 

But despite how many of these slushes you've downed over the years, how much do you really know about them? Well, aside from the fact they're delightful and a downright miracle on steamy summer days. If the answer is not much, then it's time to get familiar with your favorite treat. Here are a few interesting facts about the Sonic "slush." 

Sonic takes them very seriously

In 2018, a Colorado-based craft beer brewery by the name of Wiley Roots Brewing Company unveiled a new — and super popular — beer series called Slush. They didn't try to hide the fact that they were spoofing Sonic's famous frozen drinks. In fact, they playfully nodded to their inspiration by parodying Sonic commercials. In 2019, according to Brewbound, they decided to take the series to the next level, adding some lighthearted Sonic-style branding on the cans and rolling out even more Sonic-esque flavors, including a brew called Double Cherry Limeade Slush. 

However, if you've ever wondered how serious Sonic is about safeguarding their Slush brand, consider your curiosity relieved. They're super-serious, which was made abundantly clear in April 2019 when the company's law firm sent Wiley Roots a cease-and-desist letter over their "Slush" sour beer series. As a result, Wiley Roots had to stop using the Double Delta logo and Route 44 marks in their can branding and remove all references to Sonic. 

They were good sports about it, though. "We completely understand where [Sonic is] coming from," Wiley Roots co-owner Kyle Carbaugh said in a news release, per the Greeley Tribune. "What initially started off as an inside joke at the brewery gained far more momentum than we had ever anticipated. Once we saw the trending popularity of this series, we figured it would only be a matter of time before the inside joke grew beyond its means and would require rebranding." 

All the flavors combined taste like…

You know how when you're a kid there's nothing more satisfying than mixing things together? You swirled your paint palette into a brown blob. You mixed your Neapolitan ice cream into a creamy pinkish-beige porridge. Here's the thing — many of us are still kids at heart. Take YouTube vlogger Joe Jagoti, for example, who took it upon himself to head to Sonic and ask for a slush made of every single flavor. "I am very indecisive, so having every flavor makes up my mind on all levels," he explained.

Naturally, he filmed the experiment (which took place in 2016) for all to see. At the time, as he revealed, the available slush flavors were cherry, vanilla, cranberry, chocolate, watermelon, grape, orange, Powerade, blue coconut, green apple, blue raspberry, diet cherry, peach, raspberry, blackberry, and mango. Jagoti also asked for the fruit add-ins of real lemon, strawberry, lime, lemonberry, and pineapple. If you're keeping track, that's 21 flavor elements all being poured into one large slush cup.

Spoiler alert? They didn't fit. So, for $6.08, Jagoti got the large cup of his all-in-one slush, as well as a "side of slush," courtesy of the thoughtful carhop. But if you ask Jagoti, he'd likely tell you that the cost and presumed employee chuckles were worth it. He described the inky-hued mixture as "good," like a "red Jolly Rancher" or "a Mystery Airhead — the favorite." 

You can get them in popsicle form

While in a perfect world there would be a Sonic within a five-mile radius of everyone, that's not feasible in the real world. But Sonic is nothing if not a benevolent benefactor of frozen treats, so the fast-food company decided in the spring of 2018 to take their slushes beyond their drive-in stalls and into grocery stores.

A press release by the company [via Business Wire] released in April 2018 outlined the details of the new development. Sonic worked with multiple licensing partners to bring the treats to the frozen goods section of grocery stores and online. Called "Slushed Pops," they include classic slush flavors like Cherry Limeade. "With the introduction of these new and exciting retail products, we're keeping Sonic top-of-mind by meeting current fans where they are and welcoming new fans to the brand where a drive-in does not yet exist," said John Budd, chief strategy and business development officer for Sonic. 

They pack a sugary punch

Listen, you love Sonic's slushes. We love Sonic's slushes. Everyone loves Sonic's slushes — except, perhaps, your dentist. Because although Sonic has a fair amount of low-sugar offerings on the menu, its slushes don't exactly fit that bill.

For context, a large Coca-Cola has 72 grams of sugar. A large Sonic Blast with Oreo cookies has 98 grams of sugar. A large chocolate hand-mixed shake has 99. But a plain, no-syrup, large slush has 103. A Route 44 with no syrup? A whopping 145 grams of sugar. That's before you even ask for any add-ins. A large cherry flavor add-in, for example, will kick in an extra 25 grams of sugar. A Route 44 chocolate add-in will set you back 61 extra grams of sugar.

Of course, this doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to your Sonic Slush obsession. Everything is fine in moderation, right? Just remember that these sweet treats should probably be considered an occasional splurge. 

But they're gluten-free

Some people are simply sensitive to gluten and prefer to avoid it in their diets. Others have celiac disease and, per Harvard Medical School, "can't tolerate gluten, not even in small amounts." For the latter, if even 50 milligrams of the protein is consumed, it "triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine." From that point, it can affect the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food, lead to a range of undesirable symptoms, and even lead to serious (and lasting) issues like nerve damage or infertility. 

So, bottom line, never shame people for following the gluten-free "fad" — you never know whether they're avoiding it by choice or because they really have no choice. And for those people, it can undoubtedly be a bummer to go out to eat with friends only to find out the menu lacks any good gluten-free options. 

But Sonic's fans don't have to worry. Per Celiac-Disease.com, the drive-in offers quite a few gluten-free options. Surprisingly, that includes "all flavors in the usual menu" of Sonic's famous slushes. Just one more reason to make the trip! 

The slush-hack culture is alive and well

It's no big secret anymore that secret menus exist. Most fast food establishments will indulge patrons who order "secret menu" items, and sometimes the establishments even write blog posts revealing their secret menu items. But it seems entirely likely that many secret menu items develop simply by savvy customers coming up with their own menu hacks. Once the word gets out, voila! These off-menu concoctions make their way onto the mysterious list of secret menu offerings. 

Sonic is no different, which may surprise you. Per the site Secret Menus, the Sonic secret menu "isn't well known by many." The true shame here, though, is that no slushes made the cut — at least not on this list. However, if you head to Twitter, you'll find no shortage of slush menu-hacks to make up your own Sonic secret menu. 

@Lena_avilaa recommends, "Lemme put y'all on: a watermelon slush from Sonic add peach. Delicious." According to @kyra_strachan, "An unblended pineapple ice cream slush from Sonic tastes just like dole whip" (as in, the iconic Disney dessert). If you want your slush to be a bit more effervescent, try @sarahhekidd_'s life hack: "Get a cherry slush @ Sonic + add sprite and wa-la, frozen Shirley temple." If it's a little kick you crave, @wildbill says you can thank him after "pouring Captain Morgan into a Sonic Coke Slush." Feel free to send your pre-emptive gratitude into the universe now. 

The newest summer flavor will 'give you wings'

That summer sun can be draining, so who among us couldn't use a little pick-me-up? In 2019, Sonic rolled out a new flavor with a built-in energy boost: Red Bull Slushes. Sonic originally introduced them in February 2019, gushing on the fast-food drive-in's Facebook page, "We're PUMPED about these new Red Bull Slushes!" The company added a few caveats, though — this particular flavor isn't recommended for kids, pregnant or nursing mothers, and anyone sensitive to caffeine in general. At the time, they were only available in a few test markets.

But per Delish's Maya McDowell, the caffeinated addition hit Sonic menus across the country in late April. They range in price from $2.99 to $4.99, depending on the size. And, just FYI, the largest size available — the Route 44 — will have an entire caffeine-buzz-inducing can of Red Bull in it. 

McDowell describes the Red Bull Slush as being "more enjoyable than drinking a plain Red Bull," noting that the slush base mellows the beverage's intensity a bit. If you're craving the caffeine jolt but have never been a huge fan of Red Bull's flavor, Sonic's will camouflage it for you in a Cherry Limeade Red Bull Slush. Get 'em while you can, though, because Red Bull Slushes (like many special flavors of summers past) are reportedly only available for a limited time

The pickle slush was a big 'dill' on Snapchat

ICYMI (although how would be a true mystery), Sonic rolled out a highly controversial slush favor in the summer of 2018. Granted, it's hard to imagine that any flavor of such a refreshing, icy treat could be polarizing — but that was before the drive-in establishment introduced their Pickle Juice Slush. The sweet and salty drink made a big splash when it debuted, dividing die-hard fans who thought it was brilliant and the rest of Sonic patrons who thought it was unpalatable. But no matter which side you were on, if you tried it you were probably talking about it. So, considering all the chatter, it's not surprising Sonic turned into the Pickle Juice Slush's personal hype man. 

What's especially interesting, though, is how the company used social media to promote the pickle-flavored frozen beverages. For roughly six weeks during the summer of 2018, Snapchat users could "transform themselves into an icy-cold Pickle Juice Slush world," per Business Wire. While it's unclear if the Pickle Juice Slush itself will ever make a comeback, here's hoping Sonic will debut other Snapchat filters in the future. Because, c'mon, slush-face selfies are pure fun. 

You can order one called 'Slap Your Momma'

Remember that Sonic secret menu from earlier? Here's a perfect example of one of the more colloquially creative examples making the round: the 'Slap Your Momma' Slush. Vlogger Josiah Ryan reviewed the alleged secret menu item for his YouTube channel, The Showstopper Shows, in November 2017 and even he was skeptical at first about the slush's existence.

"Shout-out to all my friends that told me about this," Ryan says in the video. 'Then I went and Googled and I couldn't find anything on this, so I was like, 'I gotta go get it.' [Sonic] knew exactly what I was talking about. I hear it's one of the more popular things ordered here at Sonic's." As for what goes into such a curiously named concoction, Sonic employees tell Ryan when he orders that it's the classic slush mix along with blue raspberry Powerade, lemon, and raspberry flavor add-ins.

If that intel alone isn't enough to make you beeline for your local Sonic's, consider the kicker to be Ryan's opinion of the drink. "It tastes like one of those Bomb Pops. The red, the white, and the blue that you get, and it tastes so good; it's got that smooth flavor — that's exactly what that tastes like," he gushes. He also refers to the drink as a "game-changer" and "thirst-quenching good." 

You can get them half-off if you time it right

Okay, okay — so this might not be the biggest secret in the Sonic universe. However, not everyone is aware of the tradition, and therefore it bears repeating. Sonic is already known for having a wide selection of affordable foods and drinks. That doesn't mean you couldn't stand to save a few extra bucks, right? You can easily drop at least ten bucks on slushes alone for a family of four in one quick visit to Sonic. 

So, set an afternoon alarm on your phone. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Sonic hosts their own version of happy hour. During that time, you can get half-priced drinks and slushes (not to mention 99-cent corn dogs). You'll have to pay for additional add-ins if you want something other than Sonic's Famous, Real Fruit, or Candy Slushes. Still, you're getting a deal. That $10 pit-stop for a family of four? More like $5. And, hey, that means you've got extra cash to put toward the mozzarella sticks you've been eyeballing. 

You can even get them for free

What's even better than a half-priced slush? How about a free slush? No, this is not a cruel trick being played on you by the humble staff of Mashed. And nope, you won't wind up on Candid Camera (you know, if that was still a thing) when you show up at Sonic asking for one of their slushes for free — as long as you do one tiny thing first.

In case you aren't aware, Sonic has an app you can download. There are all sorts of perks to doing so, like being able to order ahead and have everything ready when you arrive. Or getting a birthday coupon. But arguably the best perks of the Sonic app surround their slushes. For starters, happy hour is every hour. As in, yep, you can get half-priced slushes any time when you order ahead in the app. Score!

That's not all, though. Having the app can help you snag a free slush. Per Sonic's FAQ section on their website, "To receive the free slush reward, you must complete the new account creation process." Don't try to get cute, because an existing MySonic account won't get the green light for a free slush. But if you're new to the app, go ahead and look forward to a free medium slush once you get your MySonic set up.