What Kellie Pickler Really Did For A Living Before Her American Idol Fame

Kelly Pickler's job before "American Idol" didn't guarantee her a successful music career, but it did help prepare her for fame.

Historically, "American Idol" Season 5 gets lost in the shuffle, but it's actually one of the most iconic seasons. Not only did the show bring in its best audience that year, per Fandom, it also produced its first-ever male winner: Taylor Hicks. And while Hicks was definitely a talented musician, he was honestly lucky to win out over that year's pool, which also included Elliot Yamin, Katherine McPhee, and Paris Bennet. There was also Chris Daughtry, who embraced his rock edge and had no trouble cultivating a following. According to Today, Daughtry — who placed fourth — signed a record deal just a few weeks after getting eliminated from "Idol." To this day, Daughtry — who eventually led a band of the same name — is the most successful contestant of that year.

With that said, Pickler is also a skilled, passionate country vocalist, who also gained a bunch of fans because of her genuine persona. And while Pickler may not have the musical recognition of some artists, she's found a ton of success in the country realm. According to Forbes, Pickler is the eighth bestselling contestant to come through the show, selling over 1.5 million albums. Not bad for a girl who didn't make it past sixth place. Since leaving "Idol," Pickler has dabbled in a bunch of different things, including acting and hosting.

But what was Pickler doing before "American Idol?"

Kellie Pickler worked at Sonic

Kellie Pickler's first job was working at one of the most popular fast food joints around: Sonic. And while many stars have shared negative memories of their days working in fast food, Pickler isn't jaded about her experience. In 2017, Pickler's daytime show, "Pickler & Ben" hosted a food demonstration segment with chef Sunny Anderson. Interestingly, Pickler seemed rather excited to bring up her previous place of employment, where Anderson also once worked. "You know what french fries make me think of?" poised Pickler. "Sonic." After Anderson realized the singer was hinting that she'd, too, worked at the fast food eatery, Pickler shared an interesting factoid about her experience. "Did you ever get the skates where one of the stoppers weren't on there, so you used the menu to stop," asked Pickler.

During a different episode of "Pickler & Ben," Pickler gave her co-host Ben Aaron an expert lesson on working at the fast food joint. In the segment, Pickler happily showed Aaron around as he stumbled to learn the restaurant's processes while wearing roller skates. Pickler, of course, had already mastered the hardware required for the job, skating breezily around the parking lot. She also enjoyed sporting the uniform again. "Ben, I used to love this uniform," Pickler revealed (via Taste of Country). "I never had to wake up in the morning too early and decide what I was gonna wear. I already knew."

What working at Sonic taught Kellie Pickler

Working at Sonic helped get a young Kellie Pickler through high school, providing her with much more than money for the mall or other teen hobbies. It also taught her an important lesson that helped her once she became famous. "Working at Sonic helped prepare me for the next part of my life," Pickler revealed to the Ocala StarBanner. "I learned communication skills and how to get along with every type of person. "When you work as a waitress, you have to deal with nice and nasty people." She added, "The one thing you remember is: the customer is always right, even when they are wrong."

Although Pickler obviously holds fond memories of her time at Sonic, she shared with OK Magazine in 2020 that she "can't remember the last time I ate at Sonic" (via Sounds Like Nashville). However, she did have her own personal Sonic ice maker, guaranteeing access to the chain's ice whenever she felt up for it. "I have a Sonic ice maker on my bus. I love Sonic ice!" continued Pickler. And she got the idea from a fellow country star. "Actually, Martina McBride, she's a good friend of mine, and she and her husband John McBride, they have a Sonic ice maker on their bus, and that's where I got the idea and went 'if they got one, then I'm gettin' one.'"