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 OKLAHOMA CITY, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- When Kimberly Clarice Aiken applied for a job her senior year of high school as a carhop at the local Sonic Drive-In in Columbia, S.C., little did she know that her days of skating out to customers' cars delivering food, would be known across the United States.
 That all changed Sept. 18, 1993 when Kimberly was named Miss America.
 On that day, Kimberly's life became of interest to the American public.
 Less than one month into her new career as Miss America, Kimberly talked fondly about her days as a Sonic carhop at the Broad Street Sonic Drive-In in Columbia. It was a job she held her entire senior year of high school. According to Kimberly, carhopping was fun.
 "I loved it, and I was good at it," recalled Kimberly on a recent television appearance on the "John & Leeza" show, an NBC talk show which airs nationally. John Tesh and Leeza Gibbons of "Entertainment Tonight" fame, host the "John & Leeza" show.
 In November 1993, Sonic opened its 1,300th store. The fast-food hamburger chain features a customer service concept spotlighting carhops, who deliver fresh, cooked-to-order food directly to customers' cars. It is a service practice which sets it apart from its competition, and is a signature of the 40-year old drive-in chain.
 It is Sonic's emphasis on carhop customer service which was the genesis for Sonic's Carhop of the Year program.
 Each year, each of Sonic's drive-ins, which are located in 25 states, nominate one "top hop," who is designated at the store level as Carhop of the Year.
 Local winners are automatically eligible to be named regional Carhop of the Year, and it is the regional winners who ultimately become qualified for National Carhop of the Year competition.
 Although Kimberly was never part of the Carhop of the Year program, her interest in doing a good job stood out to management.
 Back home in Columbia, her Sonic Drive-In manager was Michael Irons. He remembers Kimberly Clarice Aiken well.
 "Kimberly was very interested in learning more about all of the jobs at the drive-in," recalled Irons. "She was mature, very reliable and a good skater."
 Kimberly, who learned to roller skate during church youth group activities, admitted, "I never fell down on my skates while I was carhopping, but I did drop food.
 "Luckily, we didn't have to pay for the food we dropped," she reported.
 "Sonic is very proud of Kimberlyn?d excited that she enjoyed her job as a carhop," explained Nancy L. Robertson, Sonic's manager- Corporate Communications. "She has enhanced the profile of the National Carhop of the Year program -- a program for which Sonic is very proud."
 "The Carhop of the Year program lets our customers know that we mean business when it comes to customer service," reported Lori Timberlake, Sonic's current National Carhop of the Year. "Sonic believes that its carhops are the primary link to the customer, and to encourage fast, friendly, competent customer service, Sonic has initiated the Carhop of the Year program.
 "Like being named Miss America, being chosen as National Carhop of the Year is a tremendous honor, and carries a great deal of responsibility," Timberlake explained. "As Carhop of the Year, you become a bit like the spokesperson for the chain, appear in parades, and serve as a public relations ambassador for Sonic."
 The winner of the National Carhop of the Year competition appears in a Sonic television commercial, with spokesperson Frankie Avalon, which is broadcast nationally. The national carhop also receives cash scholarships, luggage, a camera, and dozens of trips across the United States.
 Sonic's cooked-to-order fast food, combined with 1950s nostalgia, value-added monthly combo specials, and the use of carhops, pushed Sonic's retail sales to more than $700 million in fiscal year 1993 which ended Aug. 31. Sonic is the fifth largest hamburger chain in the United States; the second largest hamburger chain in the southwest. The chain was named the top franchise opportunity in the United States in the November 1993 issue of SUCCESS Magazine.
 Sonic was founded in 1953 in Shawnee, Okla., by Troy Smith. Originally named the "Top Hat Drive-In," the name was changed in 1959. In the 1950s, Sonic's unique use of curbside speakers to allow customers to place food orders without ever leaving their cars, spawned the name "Sonic, Service With the Speed of Sound." In recent years that slogan has been replaced with "Sonic, America's Drive-In."
 -0- 1/6/94
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Photo accompanying this release will be available on AP PhotoExpress Network today, Jan. 6 -- see photo PRN1.
 Also, a free photo to accompany this story is available immediately via Wieck Photo DataBase to any media with telephoto receiver or electronic darkroom (PC or Macintosh) that can accept overhead transmissions. To retrieve a photo, call 214-416-3686./
 /CONTACT: Nancy L. Robertson of Sonic, 800-569-6656/

CO: Sonic Industries Inc. ST: Oklahoma IN: LEI SU:

MC -- DV002 -- 6958 01/06/94 10:08 EST
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Date:Jan 6, 1994

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