C’Mon, Sonic: Quit Copying Cook-Out

Last year, when Kevin and I began letting friends and family know we were planning to move to North Carolina, advice and recommendations began flooding in from those familiar with the state. One tip I heard again and again was that Cook-Out was a restaurant I absolutely had to try. (I’d been once, on the way to a wedding in Boone, North Carolina, and it was indeed pretty delicious.) The people who talked about Cook-Out, though, did so with a kind of reverence akin to the way folks who are into video games refer to video games. In other words, they were really into it.

So anyway, we moved to North Carolina and do in fact enjoy the occasional visit to Cook-Out. We also (more frequently — due to its location) hit up the Sonic Drive-In near our house, often for after dinner ice cream treats, late night tater tots, or — one of my summer favorites — a diet strawberry limeade.

In recent visits through the Sonic drive-thru window, we’ve noticed signs popping up that looked strikingly familiar. First, Sonic began offering a plethora of milkshake flavors, advertised on a plastic sign like one you’d see in a suburban front yard touting a family’s support of their high school soccer player.

Okay, Sonic wants to offer more milkshake flavors. I guess I can buy that. But for anyone who’s ever visited Cook-Out, you’ll recall that bountiful milkshake flavors are their thing — as noted on a nearly identical plastic sign by their drive-thru window. Hmm.

Next, during a Sonic visit on our way home from Lake Burton last weekend, Kevin and I noticed a new offering from the drive-in: platters. Again, a straight up menu plagiarization by Sonic. And again on the practically identical sign to boot. Cook-Out has been doing that for forever*!

(*I’m not sure this is true. Longer than Sonic, definitely. And yes, they call theirs “trays” instead.)

Anyway, I’m very annoyed by this. Sure, it makes sense that Sonic has identified Cook-Out as a key competitor, as they do have many similarities. But I don’t feel like shamelessly copying their competitor is the way to help Sonic get ahead. Way to differentiate!

Is anyone else with me on this?*

(*Yes — I realize I’m getting rather worked up over fast food marketing. I have no explanation or excuse.)

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