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Core Samples

September 22, 2016

Do you know why I don’t buy any of those Living Social deals? Nothing against Living Social, that was just the first brand that came to mind. But things like Groupon fit in that category too. Occasionally, compelling offers come up. But I know myself too well. I would always wait until the last minute to use my deal, and then it would feel more like a burden than a pleasure.

So when SONIC approached me a few weeks ago and asked if I had time to sample their new SONIC Blast Flavor Funnels before September 23, I said sure. Then they sent me $25 in gift cards so I could try out a few different flavors. And those gift cards sat. And they sat. Until I got an email asking if I had tried these frozen treats.

Oops.

Remember how I said that I would take someone out for ice cream at SONIC? Well, it looks like I owe Sue H. an ice cream, because I went without her. The good news is that I’m totally good for it. And the even better news is now that after Albany Jane helped me taste through five different SONIC Blasts, I have a pretty good idea of how to order something delicious.

It’s really an eye opening experience when you get to sample a wide variety of a particular food at an establishment. After trying so many house made pastas at IL FARO, now I know which one I enjoy the most. The same goes for the dim sum at Hong Kong Bakery, and the noodle soups at Taiwan Noodle.

This is how you find out, for example, that the best pizzas at The Fountain are the ones that contain either the eggplant and or the meatball toppings, even when many of the other pizzas may be fair to average for tavern pies. So what does this kind of experience illuminate about the SONIC Blast Flavor Funnels? Well, first we should probably start with a few definitions, because proprietary names for things can be confusing.

I know I was confused when trying to read the menu board at our local SONIC. Here’s the primer.

A SONIC Blast is like a Dairy Queen Blizzard. It’s ice cream mixed with stuff. The ice cream is vanilla. Add one thing, and it’s a basic blast. A mini, which is more than anyone needs, is seven ounces and will set you back about three bucks, plus tax.

A SONIC Master Blast is pretty much the same thing, but it involves a few more mix-ins. The most appealing ones on the menu were Malted Brownie Bliss and Turtle Pecan. Albany Jane was also excited by Peanut Butter & Cookie Dough Dream, but she has a sweet tooth that just won’t quit. A seven ounce mini of this deluxe flavor experience is closer to four bucks.

The Flavor Funnel can be added to any Blast for fifty cents. Think of it as a sundae topping. But instead of just going on top, you’re guaranteed to get an ooey gooey bite of the stuff from the beginning to the end of your Blast experience.

To make the process of ordering slightly easier, the Flavor Funnel comes only in four flavors. Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Caramel, and Oreo Cream.

Even easier, you can skip the chocolate and the caramel. Neither delivered on the benchmarks of flavor and texture established by other chain restaurants. Albany Jane thought the Oreo Cream was fantastic. I hold a dissenting opinion. We both agreed that it’s like adding a slug of cake frosting into your ice cream. If that sounds appealing, then go for it.

Me? I’ll be sticking to the peanut butter funnel for the future. And I suspect there will be a future. I was serious about oweing Sue H. a trip to SONIC. The peanut butter core had a hit of saltiness, and had the sweetness and flavor of a Reese’s cup filling.

The big question is what mix ins do you get with the SONIC Blast to make the most of the peanut butter experience.

I really feel like it needs something crunchy. The pecans were crisp and delicious. It could be worth a try, but that may just be too nutty. I’m tempted to say the Oreo pieces, because those too were a nice counterpoint when blended into SONIC’s vanilla ice cream. Snickers bar pieces proved to be too chewy. The brownie bits were okay, but again more chewy than crunchy.

Although maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Perhaps the answer is to blend in a fresh banana, and maybe some actual peanuts for crunch. Ooh. Now I may be onto something.

As I work through this little project, I think I may have stumbled onto something else important. I have a funny feeling it’s these crazy customizations which endear people to this chain. The idea of taking a menu and using it to create something that is distinctly your own has a strong appeal. Especially when you finally land on the one combination out of the potential thousands which hits all the right notes just for you.

Huh. Well, you learn something new every day.

Oh, and one last thing. Should you decide to try one of these for yourself, don’t forget to order it without whipped cream. I don’t know what they use for a whipped topping. But all it does is look pretty and detract from the good stuff below.

Now I’ve got to contact Applebee’s and apologize to them for sitting on their voucher for so long. What can I say? It’s been busy. More on that tomorrow.

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