Wednesday night, July 29, a group of some four dozen high school students and their adult chaperons/drivers gathered at Pathways Community Church to prepare for a very important assignment: to determine who has the best burgers: Sonic or In-N-Out. It was a difficult and dirty (well, at least messy) job, but they were up to the task.
Organizers Jenna Stovall and Mike Gilson had obviously done a lot of preparation for the activity. They had developed detailed evaluation forms which included such elements as taste, presentation, bun, “greasiness,” and facilities. They also had trivia questions for the kids to work on while waiting for their orders. For the stop at Sonic, the organizers had contacted the auto service station next door and gotten permission to set up tables and chairs in the lot. This turned out to be both a problem, because there was no light in the lot, and unnecessary, because by the time all the students had their orders the regular eating area had cleared out and there was enough room for most of them to sit.
It was obvious that the kids were having a lot of fun, and most of them were taking the activity seriously. You could see how some of them were concentrating on their evaluation forms. I had a chance to chat with some of them at Sonic to get their thoughts. Heather told me, “Sonic’s good, but I don’t think it can beat In-N-Out.” For Mikaila, it was the “amazing” tater tots that brought a smile to her face. Jessica put it simply – “They taste good.” An anonymous young man felt the burger had “the perfect amount of veggies.” Not all was smooth sailing, however. One boy’s hamburger “turned into a salad,” and another boy talked about his hamburger’s “squishy buns” – at least I assume it was his hamburger he was talking about.
The management at Sonic was very pleasant and helpful, even sending out free samples of drinks to keep folks going while waiting for their orders. As always, the carhops were fast and efficient, although one young man did end up having a too-close encounter of the wall kind as he was returning to the restaurant to pick up another order.
All-American Burger Challenge
Part 1 – Sonic
Evaluations and Trivia
Following the Sonic experience the entire crew packed up and headed down Magnolia to In-N-Out. The group was very careful to clean up both the dining area and the lot where they had originally set up before leaving. At In-N-Out my wide-angle lens died, so I was unable to get any group photos. A more pressing problem was the late arrival of Mike Gilson, who happened to have the money for the activity. Eventually he showed up and ordering began. Here again I managed to talk to a few kids (at least those whose mouths weren’t full of food) to get their thoughts. Amy told me “Sonic’s doing it for me, although the milkshakes here [In-N-Out] are better.” Blake told me that “In-N-Out wins hands down on burgers, but it’s Sonic for drinks.” His friend Ross agreed and added, “Sonic has it for atmosphere.”
All-American Burger Challenge
Part 2 – In-N-Out
The night was not just for comparing. One of the participants had never before had a burger! Kristin admitted that she had always been more of a “chicken person,” although several of her friends had talked about taking her out to try the beef-and-bun combination. So this night she finally got her introduction to the All-American Hamburger.
The final results of the All-American Burger Challenge will be announced on Sunday, August 2. I will post the results later in the day. But until then, I am inviting all of my readers to vote in my totally unscientific Sonic vs In-N-Out Poll.