An Open Letter to Sonic Drive-In
A Cajun friend and I were talking about how much we dislike being known for cooking “blackened” food even though neither of us have ever made it or even eaten it. After our conversation, I was prompted to write to Sonic Drive-In which just introduced a new “Cajun” burger. The burger sports, among other things, pepperjack cheese and blackened chicken. Boo, I say.
To Whom it May Concern,
I’m a displaced Cajun living in Los Angeles. I grew up in Kaplan, Louisiana, often called the “Gateway to [Acadiana].”
While I love your food and even drive with my friends in Anaheim to eat it on special occasions, I wanted to share my concerns about your new “Cajun burger.”
The first time I saw this Cajun burger, I was actually visiting home and was at the Kaplan Sonic Drive-in. I wondered what was in it but ordered my usual. Today I was talking to another Cajun friend about how our culture is misrepresented in the media and he brought up your new television (or was it radio?) commercial. He said the actor in the Sonic commercial felt like she was on a roadtrip to New Orleans when she eats this Cajun burger. He also mentioned how your commercial emphasizes that your burgers are blackened.
Any Cajun who watches this commercial will turn up his or her nose. First, New Orleans is not in Cajun Country. Cajun Country, or Acadiana, is a 22 parish region across Southwest Louisiana. Baton Rouge doesn’t even make the cut, much less New Orleans. Second, none of us eat blackened food. The blackening technique was invented by Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme in the mid-1980s but it’s nothing we cook at home. Your website also states “Whatever Cajun tastes like, the Cajun Chicken Sandwich has it.” We Cajuns take our food seriously and your burger, while it may be delicious, is not Cajun. If Cajun were to taste anything, it would probably taste like roux and that’s not an ingredient I see listed on your website.
Sonic has made its way into our culture and I’d even say that I’m reminded of Kaplan when I drive the 45-minute trek to the Anaheim Sonic Drive-in. We Cajuns are well aware of your brand but do not appreciate the harm you do by continuing to tell the world that we burn our food and live in New Orleans. We take pride in our cooking and your burger does not represent any part of it. If you do not retract your commercials around America, you should at least consider taking it off of the air in Southwest Louisiana – some people are offended while others are laughing. Either way, it’s not good publicity.
Thank you for your time.
Sonic is, and will remain, one of my favorite fast food restaurants. I really hope they consider my letter!