In the world of fast food, we’ve been numbed by so much “innovation” that isn’t actually innovative, like different shapes of (still potato) French fries and yet another huge new chicken sandwich launch that merely adds a little spicy sauce. But the geniuses at Sonic Drive-In have managed to come up with a fast-food innovation that is actually worth getting excited about: pickle fries.
Launched on April 26, Sonic’s new pickle fries really seem like a no-brainer. Who doesn’t love the deep-fried goodness of tangy, crunchy dill pickles, especially when dipped in a tub of buttermilk ranch sauce? Instead of going with the classic pickle chip, arguably the fried pickle platonic ideal, Sonic’s version involves a short, thin spear of pickle that’s breaded lightly and fried to a crisp.
The pickle fries I ordered were mostly crispy, and were made with a pickle that’s definitely higher quality than the typical fast-food pickle chip that you might find on a burger. They were light in color, instead of that weird, chemically neon green, and spiced with more than just dill, with a little garlic and sugar in the mix to make things interesting. My order was a bit skimpy — only about six or seven thin spears were tucked inside the little paper cup — but maybe that’s because the location near my apartment was nearly sold out. Still, they were almost startlingly good, and one of the most interesting new things I’ve had out of a drive-thru window in a long time.
In the days following their debut, these pickle fries have become an absolute phenomenon thanks to, of course, social media. Dozens of TikTokers have posted their (mostly favorable) reviews of the chain’s latest offering, and videos tagged with #sonicpicklefries have been viewed on the platform more than 300,000 times. There are even videos of frenzy-induced sell-outs at Sonic, where a beleaguered drive-in worker tells a customer that they’re all out of pickle fries.
In addition to the pickle fries, the chain also debuted the “Big Dill” cheeseburger, which is topped with both regular pickles and the deep-fried spears. But while that feels like a silly, limited-time-only gimmick, pickle fries are the kind of fast-food side with staying power. In fact, why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Pickle fries may be a mainstay on sports bar menus, but very few fast-food chains, with the exception of regional favorites like Zaxby’s and Chicken Express, have made the foray into fried pickles, and that just doesn’t make any sense. The world needs more fried pickles, and even better if I can score a cup of crispy spears without having to get out of my car.