The Annual Employee Skating Competition That Crowns The Best Sonic Carhop

When that midday hunger strikes, deciding where to fulfill those cravings can sometimes be a hard choice. With a McDonald's, Wendy's, and even multiple Dunkin' locations on every other street corner, the options can sometimes be overwhelming. While Sonic might not immediately come to mind when it comes to a suitable choice, it probably should.

Since its founding in 1953 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Sonic has expanded to over 3,500 locations throughout 46 states (via Oklahoma Historical Society). Along with its delicious array of grill-inspired food offerings including toaster sandwiches, burgers, fries, and milkshakes, it was Sonic's roller-skating carhops that made the experience all that much more worth it. According to Sonic of Connecticut, the carhops are trained to bring food to your car on roller skates or rollerblades. Even more, the company claims they teach skaters to carhop, placing an emphasis on people who already love skating to work for the company.

With employees who already enjoy the art of skating, it's no surprise to learn that Sonic hosts an annual skating competition where the most skilled skater is crowned as the Best Sonic Carhop.

The ultimate skate-off competition

Not all fast-food chains host regular company-wide competitions. Some would say that hosting an ultimate employee skating competition every year makes Sonic stand out. Of course, the fact that its servers are on skates to begin with makes Sonic unique among fast food joints, too.

At first, the Sonic games only assessed food and drink preparation, and service and food delivery skills of carhops throughout the country over the course of a nine-month training period (via QSR In 2018, Matt Schein, vice president of operations at Sonic, told HR Dive that "Dr Pepper Sonic Games is an extensive premier training program that is open to all Sonic Drive-In crews coast-to-coast each year."

Skating skills weren't part of the competition until 2011 when the talent was introduced to the event. During that year, six finalists took part in a skate-off at the convention in Las Vegas (via Las Vegas Sun). Since then, the restaurant has hosted its annual Sonic Skate-Off competition, where carhops from around the country can submit videos showing off their skating tricks while delivering food to customers (via MYSA). In 2012, there were seven finalists who competed at the Sonic World Headquarters in Oklahoma City.

According to the Dr. Pepper and Sonic Games Hall of Fame website, the fast food restaurant and soda company have been partnered for the past 25 years, specifically for this competition.

The best carhops can earn prizes

Every year, Sonic carhops can submit a video entry showing off their best skating skills while in uniform, working their shifts at Sonic. From there, around half a dozen finalists head to a special location to compete in a variety of in-person events and tests to claim the title. In 2019, five finalists were brought to the Sonic National Convention in Austin, Texas, to skate through a 12-part obstacle course and showcase their freestyle skills to a panel of judges (via Inspire Stories). But it's not just the carhop who shows off the most impressive set of skating tricks who wins the title. The company also takes into consideration the overall good attitude and personality that exudes Sonic's values (via Dr. Pepper Sonic Games).

In 2012, MYSA reported that finalists earn skate-off prizes, including a pair of skates worth $1,000, a gold, silver, and bronze medal, and the priceless title of best carhop ever. While the nine-month training program also offers incentives to employees (like gift cards and trending electronics), it's the carhop games that are truly entertaining.

"Our goal is not only to have good skaters but to have great carhops," vice president of Operations at Sonic, Matt Schein, told Oklahoma News 4 in 2019. "They need to showcase how they treat their customers, how they handle how to be a carhop but also show us some fun skills that they have."