Pickles didn’t come here to play, and that’s why they divide us. Their flavor is sharp, intense, sour. Their crunch is assertive and vegetal. In certain quantities, their brine can overpower the taste of anything you pair them with—which, to the pickle enthusiast, is often the point. As a topping, no one can deny that pickles do their job, providing an outsized concentration of flavor in a small package. So when Sonic Drive-In announced its new Big Dill Cheeseburger, the pickle lovers among us were understandably pumped as hell.
In a press release (aptly titled “A Pickle-Lover’s Dream!”), Sonic describes the sandwich this way:
SONIC® Drive-In is introducing a new mouthwatering cheeseburger that offers an unexpected twist that’s perfect for pickle lovers, the Big Dill! With three ways to get your pickle fix – including crispy pickle fries, crinkle cut pickle slices and a creamy dill-infused ranch sauce – the Big Dill Cheeseburger keeps you coming back for more with each craveable bite.
Catering to pickle lovers is a smart marketing move, since it’s a known fact that we will buy just about anything that promises to deliver us our brine fix. (The only time I’ve gone too far? Pickle cotton candy.) And when I pulled that top bun off for the first time, I really thought I was going to be treated to a burst of briny flavor the likes of which only a McDonald’s burger with extra extra pickles has heretofore provided.
Sure, there were only three crinkle-cut pickle slices present, but I was encouraged to count as many as eight crispy pickle fries and a healthy dollop of dilly ranch. I took a bite, waiting for that savory wave of vinegar to wash over my senses. I chewed, still waiting. I swallowed my first bite. I looked at my watch.
The standard Sonic cheeseburger, I should say, is pretty decent. It won’t convince you that it’s been freshly smashed right on the flat top (its edges are too perfectly circular for that), but it’s covered in fresh lettuce and American cheese that actually melts, unlike McDonald’s slices. So we’re already off to a good start here. Unfortunately, we’re also at the end.
I have nothing but admiration for the innovator who suggested not only serving fried pickles at Sonic, but plunking them right onto a burger and letting them infuse every bite with added zing (yes, pickles have what I would categorize as zing).
However, the fried pickles aren’t quite right. The breading is too thick, and rather than encasing a spear or slice of pickle, it contains only a thin shaving of pickle—a couple of them only had a strip of the exterior pickle skin inside. My guess is that they did this to prevent people from scalding their mouths on a bigger, juicier bite. (What pickle lover among us hasn’t accidentally burned themselves on these delicacies at a sit-down restaurant?)
Since there’s not enough pickle inside, the breading drowns out any discernible pickle flavor in the fries. Add them to a hot sandwich, and the breading almost immediately turns to a thick, mushy paste atop your burger. You’re better off ordering them on the side, where they’ll still be a disappointment, but at least a slightly crispier one.
You know what doesn’t grow soggy and get less crunchy as it sits on a burger? Plain ol’ pickles. The three crinkle cut pickle slices on this burger were still the highlight of the sandwich, beyond the flashy additions of pickle fries and dill ranch (which was fine, but could have been dillier). By their very nature, pickles stand up to moisture and remain sturdy, crunchy, and full of that delicious brine. So a real “Big Dill” sandwich could just as easily be a burger with, like, 10 of these pickle slices on it.
But I get it—you can’t market “burger with extra pickles” as an exciting new innovation. That’s just a special order you can request any old time you go to Sonic. And pickle lovers probably already do. Ultimately, the Big Dill is a tasty burger with an excess of bells and whistles that undermine its purpose. We love your hustle, Sonic! This one just missed the mark.
My advice? Order the Big Dill and some extra pickles, then scrape the pickle fries off immediately and sub in all the pickle slices. Eat your pickle fries on the side—you probably won’t want more than the eight that come on the burger—and enjoy your crunchy, pickly burger with dilly ranch. Congratulations. You have created a meal that’s actually as big a dill as intended.