NEW YORK — Sugar is a bad word in some circles but that isn't stopping Sonic from pouring candy into its drinks.
Last summer, Sonic Drive-In launched a line-up of Slush drinks with Nerds candy mixed in. They were so popular the chain says some people ask to get the crunchy little candies mixed into other drinks, like soda.
And given their success, CEO Cliff Hudson says Sonic is looking at adding a second candy-drink mashup this summer, although he declined to provide details.
In the meantime, the Nerds are still on menus as a drink add-in for around 30 cents.
Already, a medium Grape Slush has 73 grams of sugar and 230 calories. Add in the Nerds, and it has 130 grams of sugar and 510 calories.
Sonic, which has more than 3,500 locations, notes it also offers plenty of lower-calorie drink choices, such as sparkling water with the option to add in various fresh fruits and flavors.
Drinks have been a big part of Sonic's growth strategy, with the company letting people mix and match flavors and offering them at half price between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The company says drinks now represent 30 percent of its total sales. That's compared to an average of about 22 percent for the overall fast-food industry, according to Technomic.
More broadly, Sonic has been increasing sales in part by revamping recipes, such as for its chicken sandwich. In the most recent quarter that ended on Feb. 28, the company said sales rose 11.5 percent at established locations. That's following an 8.5 percent increase in the previous quarter, and a 3.5 percent increase for its last fiscal year.
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