When I was growing up in suburban Chicago, you could walk right up to the deserted drive-thru window of Dunkin’ Donuts (still known by its full name back then) on foot anytime after 11 p.m., politely explain to the employee that it was someone in your party’s birthday, and without any sort of verification to confirm that fact (which was not true), you’d reliably be handed an oversize sack of free doughnuts, because the shop didn’t want to sell the stale ones anymore by that time of night anyway. After accepting this bounty, the entire group of us would openly rejoice in front of the bored-looking Dunkin’ employee and tear into the donuts right on the curb, flush with victory. The donuts weren’t that stale, though we’d never admit it if they were.
Then we all grew up, and the drive-thru morphed into an utter practicality instead of a Friday-night destination. If we patronized the Dunkin’ drive-thru in adulthood, it was primarily to grab coffee along a daily work commute. And right now, drive-thru lanes bear the burden of necessity like never before. With many fast food dining rooms closed or with customers hesitant to make use of them, the drive-thru has become the pickup point for food we’re probably only going to ferry straight back to our homes to eat. The drive-thru doesn’t currently call to mind the start of an exciting road trip or the cheapest adventure to enjoy with a pack of close friends. So it’s nice to think back on the most fun you’ve ever had in a drive-thru lane. Did any of you ever ask a significant other to prom through the speaker or pull through to discover that your meal had already been paid for by the benevolent car ahead of you? Or—god forbid—were you one of those insufferable drive-thru pranksters who would strum a guitar and sing your order or dress up as a clown to scare the employee at the pickup window?