Can Something with Wheat be Gluten-Free? Sonic Thinks So.

is Sonic safe for those with celiac disease?

Ready for a SONIC BOOM?

See that picture above? That is part of the allergen menu for the Sonic Drive-In restaurants. The red check-marks indicate the allergens that are present in each item. Is it possible that Sonic thinks something can be gluten-free even if it contains wheat? It’s time to remove my stovepipe hat and don my investigator cap. Ready? Me too.

My first stop was to contact Sonic directly. I don’t like calling companies out without trying to contact them first. Yes…even Udi’s. So a few days ago I sent the following email to them:

“Can you please explain on your allergen menu why items that are marked as containing wheat are not also marked as containing gluten? Thanks.”

Heard back from them this am. Their response?

Dear Scott,

We strive to provide exceptional service and take your feedback very seriously. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I have submitted your concern to Management.

Sincerely,
Sonic, America’s Drive-In
Customer Care Team

Ok…that’s a swing and a miss. Just a generic corporate response. Meh!

Next stop is the Sonic website. Here is their disclaimer:

“WARNING: Fried foods may be exposed to gluten and allergens. Fryer oil may come in contact with items containing milk, egg, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat and gluten because fried items are not always fried in designated stations. Blended/mixed drinks and frozen desserts may come in contact with milk, egg, soy, wheat, gluten, peanuts, pecans and tree nuts.”

Ok…so we can all agree that nothing is really celiac-safe to eat at Sonic. Or can we? Off to Google and…sigh.

– Two people on the Find Me Gluten Free website say it’s “celiac friendly”.

– I found a sponsored post where a blogger wanted to test items at Sonic with the Nima Sensor. The first Sonic she went to did not have a dedicated Fryer. So she went to another Sonic where they said they DID use a dedicated fryer. So she ordered the fries and tater tots and low and behold, the Nima said they were safe to eat. What does that prove? Not a damn thing.

– And I found this gem from someone who worked at Sonic:
“I was a multi store supervisor for Sonic Drive-In. The grill is used to cook grilled cheese sandwiches and there is ABSOLUTELY no such thing as a dedicated fryer at any Sonic that I worked in. Milkshakes are all mixed with the same equipment and the spindle doesn’t get cleaned in between shakes. So the ever popular Oreo milkshake is contaminating your strawberry or other flavored shake with gluten. Sonic is not serving gluten free food!”

Ok class…so what have we learned from today’s lesson?

  • Sonic is not safe to eat for those with celiac disease?
  • Find Me Gluten Free should not be the only tool in your celiac toolbox.
  • Sponsored posts should always be read with serious caution.

And what haven’t we learned? We still have no idea if Sonic really thinks that something that contains wheat can be gluten-free?

Maybe you can ask them on their Facebook page? Or ping them on Twitter.

Our goal is simple: to get them to update their allergen menu. Immediately.

The Gluten Dude App: For a Better Gluten-free Life

Eating out with celiac disease is stressful. The Gluten Dude app lists only restaurants that have been personally vetted, so you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying yourself.

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3 thoughts on “Can Something with Wheat be Gluten-Free? Sonic Thinks So.”

  1. Maybe the secret is that the items in question are magical, having been made from unicorn wheat, the naturally shed (and absolutely gluten free) glitter that falls from their horns as they prance. Wait…maybe I could get a job developing Sonic’s allergen menus! I can make things up, too!

    Okay, sorry, seriously, I hope this menu gets corrected. Making things up on allergen menus is dangerous. Unicorn wheat makes more sense than Sonic’s checkmarks.

  2. I know everyone really is annoyed by Celiac.com, but to me, the most damaging website for Celaics is “Find me gluten free.” Honestly, and not just because you started a new app. When will that site remove the “celiac friendly” bs on there? I know you’re not into suing people, but what will stop the idiocy other than a lawsuit and a regulation? It’s not blocking “free speech” to block fraud speech and this is fraud with possible injury as the result. This is such a pet peeve of mine! It’s probably incorporated in a state that hasn’t bothered to update its Food Code for years! My own state is only up to 2009 because the next code would include allergens. Seriously look into Food Codes published by the FDA and optionally ratified by each state. It’s the biggest loophole ever as far as food safety.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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