June 20, 2009

Sonic top confusion

A week after my first visit to Sonic, I'm still puzzled by all the little bubble buttons the lids of their drinks.

Most restaurants have three or four -- little convex bulges stenciled with words like "cola," "diet" and "tea" to help servers tell similarly colored drinks apart so patrons don't end up snorting root beer foam out their noses when they expected to be sipping on a soothing iced tea. Sonic has a few extra ones on their drink lids.

Eight extras to be exact: rb, cr, a, pa, c, dr, diet, and mther. A few of them are easy to figure out. Root beer is rb. Cola is c. Dr. Pepper is dr and, well, diet is diet.

That still leaves cr, a, pa and most confusingly mther. I have no idea what any of those are. They could be Sonic-specific drinks, in which case my confusion stems from an admittedly low institutional knowledge of the drive-in. Or they could be something else, something guess-able.

For a week I've pondered these strange markings to no avail. Yet I don't want to find the answer by scouring the Internet or doing other research, as that would feel like cheating at this point. This is a brain teaser to me, and if I solve it at all I'll solve it with my brain.

Maybe Sonic just added a few extra buttons so patrons could have the fun of pressing them. Who could blame them for that commendable action?

But if that's the case, Sonic labeled the extra buttons with confusing jumbles of letters solely so I would go around in circles guessing what they mean. Who could forgive them for such sadism?

Here's another brain teaser for you. Why do fast food joints still put those little bubble buttons on drink lids? I don't remember the last time a server actually pressed one down for me. Usually I end up having to guess which is cola and which is diet when I'm eating with a friend. The buttons sit there, unpressed, taunting me as I make a desperate guess to hopefully avoid sipping that abominable diet aftertaste.

My conclusion is that there would be an enormous outpouring of outrage if the buttons were eliminated. People would have no interactive interface with their drinks without the bubbles.

Having an answer for that riddle doesn't make me feel any better about being unable to discern the meaning of "mther" though.


  1. I actually work at sonic, and we still press those Bubbles (or at least we are supposed to) and the servers do look at them and serve them accordingly.

    The Cr, A, and PA is mostly for our slushes. Cr is Cranberry. A is apple. PA is Pineapple.

  2. its a code...

    how the code appears: RB OTHER CR A PA C DIET DP

    translation: "Our bother crap; a sea, diet deep."