Let me start by correcting a common misconception: cherry cokes from Sonic are not simply the Cherry Coke soda from Coca-Cola. No, long before Coca-Cola came out with cherry- or vanilla-flavored drinks you could drive up to a Sonic and have those flavors added to whatever soda you wanted. Vanilla Dr Pepper – easy peasy. Cherry limeade (ie: Sprite with cherry and limes) – delicious. So a cherry coke is cherry syrup added to Coca-Cola.
The next thing to know about Sonic drinks is that their ice is awesome. The ice isn’t cubes or crescents but rather small crunchable spheres. They’re so popular in the south that you can buy bags of it directly from a Sonic Drive-In. I, personally, think that Coke is best served over ice and even better served over Sonic ice.
I really do enjoy the flavor of the beverage, but nostalgia is the real reason why I enjoy cherry cokes from Sonic so much. There wasn’t a whole lot in the little town I grew up in, but there was, and still is, a Sonic. And sometimes after picking us up from school, Mom would take us to Sonic for a treat2 and I’d get a cherry coke. Sometimes during the summer when I was working for my Dad in the print shop collating, stapling, and labeling newsletters he’d take some money out of the till and send me to Sonic to get everyone a drink in the afternoon.
With the exception of Seattle, every town I’ve lived in has had a Sonic nearby. So what use to be a “hey, lets bop down the street and get a drink” has become a “lets get in the car and drive 45 minutes to Tacoma”. Taking a selfie with my drink at Sonic and posting it to Facebook has become a shtick — one that brings me joy for absolutely no sensible or logical reason. And despite there being almost nothing for Daniel to eat or drink there, he still humors me and stops whenever we pass one on the road. That act of love also also brings me great joy.
While I know it’s just another form of artificially-flavored high-fructose corn syrup served over frozen water in a styrofoam cup3, Sonic cherry cokes have a special place in my heart.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but thankfully not everything has to.