EXPIRED: 10/26/09 – Troy Smith, 87, grew up in the flats of Oklahoma, married
his sweetheart, Dollie Twiggs, and went to serve in WW2.
When he returned home he drove a milk truck, then a bread truck and then opened a diner called The Cottage Cafe. A year later, he sold the Cottage Cafe and opened a larger restaurant called Troy’s Grill. And by 1953 he dumped Troy’s to open the Top Hat, a root-beer joint.
It made pretty good money and was just popular enough to put Smith at the forefront of the burgeoning “drive-in” trend. Troy pioneered the use of angled and covered parking, along with an intercom speaker system that allowed customers to place orders from their cars. “Service With the Speed of
Sound,” became the tagline for the Top Hat.
The concept took off and Smith heard from others who wanted the chance to run their own drive in. He tried to copyright the Top Hat name in ’58 but it was already taken, so he looked up “speed of sound” in the dictionary and came across the word “sonic”.
From that point on, Sonic Drive-Ins began popping up all over the MidWest. Today, there are nearly 3,600 Sonic Drive-Ins located in 42 states.
He made a damned great chocolate shake.