If you have yet to try Chick-Fil-A, then there is every possibility that you are wondering what it is that makes it so popular when all fast food chains offer the same sort of food; french fries, burgers, fried chicken and all the usual fast food items. Actually, Chick-Fil-A does many things differently. For example, they offer free food for a year to the first 100 customers at any of their new restaurants. They make waffle fries, fry fresh hand-breaded chicken on-site, use antibiotic-free chicken, chop fresh salads and sell freshly squeezed lemonade. Of course, there have been some controversies on Chick-Fil-A’s political views, but their fresh and simple secret recipes keep you wanting more. Healthy and freshly made at the restaurant, it is no wonder that customers find the food irresistible! However, even if you are a Chick-Fil-A fanatic, you may not be aware of these top ten untold truths of your favorite fast food chain.
10. The Chick-Fil-A Roots Can Be Traced Back to the Restaurant ‘Dwarf House’
The founder, S. Truett Cathy, opened a restaurant called Dwarf House (formerly the Dwarf Grill) back in 1946, which focused on hamburgers and steak. You may not be aware that the Chick-Fil-A menu began as a part of the Dwarf House’s menu. The Goode Brothers Poultry Company approached Cathy with their excess chicken breasts which were rejected by airlines. Cathy accepted the shipment of boneless breast chicken and used it in his restaurant at the time. This chicken surplus led to the famous chicken sandwich, which was a meal served at the Dwarf House. After years of perfecting the chicken sandwich recipe, experimenting with different oils and reducing the preparation time by using a pressure cooker, Cathy decided to open a fast-food restaurant purely based on the boneless chicken breast sandwich leading to the first Chick-Fil-A fast food location of 368 sqft in 1967. It was actually the surplus of chicken breasts from a local supplier that led to the creation of the first Chick-Fil-A outlet.
9. Chick-Fil-A Remains Closed on Sunday’s, and Not Only Because it is the Sabbath Day
The reason behind not operating on Sunday’s has to do with maintaining religious beliefs that it is the Sabbath day. A day to rest after working six days, mainly to focus on God and family. While this is partially true, the real reason behind the nonfunctional Sunday’s had to do with the restaurants’ 24 hours operation. Cathy’s experience of working in a restaurant that opened 24 hours a day, seven days a week left him exhausted. He realized how important it was to take time off to spend with family. Besides, Sunday was not a trading day at the time, which is why Chick-Fil-A remained closed on that day. Truett closed for service the first Sunday after opening his very first restaurant Dwarf House and since then has maintained this ritual. Sunday was chosen to allow employees the time to rest and worship if they choose to do so. Sometimes operators make exceptions especially when their communities are in need like if there are tornadoes, power shutdowns or other disasters.
8. The Real Meaning Behind the Capital Letter A
You have to agree that the name Chick-Fil-A is catchy and definitely unique. It can grab anyone’s attention within minutes! You may also know that the full form of Chick-Fil-A is Chicken Fillet. The Fil-A is a play on words and is actually the way fillet is pronounced in America. Others say that capital ‘A’ signifies top quality in the chicken fillet that you eat. This is true but there is more. The letter ‘A’ actually means making A-Grade chicken fillet sandwiches. This recipe is top secret and locked away in a hidden vault at the Atlanta headquarters. It can never be replicated because when founder Truett Cathy perfected the recipe and found the perfect blend of seasoning 50 years back, he folded the piece of paper, placed it in his pocket and then made sure it was locked up in a safe. This is why the A grade justifies the use of the capital letter in the name. It means that no other fast food restaurant is serving the same tasty sandwich. You can only eat this scrumptious chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A fast food chains. The fact that the recipe has not changed for over 50 years, the chicken is fresh and not frozen, and the recipe remains top secret warrants the A-Grade usage.
7. The Chicken Fillet Sandwich is not the Most-Ordered Menu Item
Do you think the chicken fillet sandwich is the most ordered meal at Chick-Fil-A? Yes, it is popular but not as popular as the waffle fries. The waffle fries are the chain’s top-selling menu item, served with all meals at Chick-Fil-A or ordered as a single menu item. These fries are overtaking the original chicken sandwich and have turned the french fries industry upside down. The potatoes used are freshly harvested at family-owned farms in Washington state. Many customers love the golden brown crispy fries seasoned with sea salt as it offers more value with its quirky shape. It is different to the common french fries that most fast food restaurants offer, making Chick-Fil-A the go-to restaurant for these novelty fries. You will be happy to know that the original recipe has not been tweaked since inception, unlike other fast food chains that have experimented with their french fries.
6. You Are Eating Healthy Fast Food at Chick-Fil-A
You will agree that it is hard to associate healthy eating with fast food, especially when there are so many preservatives used. Chicken is not free from antibiotics, added hormones and fillers, which is usually served at fast food restaurants. Chick-Fil-A is different! The chicken you order is antibiotic-free and your salads are freshly cut. Chick-Fil-A is working with suppliers who have committed to not using any antibiotics directly or indirectly for their poultry. They have raised the standards for salads by focusing on vegetables and fruits freshly cut at the outlet. Chick-Fil-A is proof that they serve healthy meal options that do not send you on a guilt trip. Instead of ordering fries with your sandwich, you can opt for their fruit cup or kale and broccolini hand-chopped salad. These side dishes have received a thumbs-up from operators and numerous customers. A handful think it is not as healthy due to the sugar contained in the maple vinaigrette dressing and dry cherries. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that with Chick-Fil-A, you can maintain a healthy balanced diet eating fast food. Bizarre but true!
There is no doubt that Chick-Fil-A will help you feel better about the food that you eat especially if you prefer healthier fast food, but this is not the only reason for the restaurant’s increasing popularity. Apparently, the staff is super friendly, positive and welcoming, which is hard to come by in the fast food sector.
5. They Make Dining at the Restaurant Easy for Parents with Little Children
Kids are tough to handle at restaurant line-ups, which is why many parents have avoided dining outside with their kids. They usually consider take-out and sit in front of the TV, but with Chick-Fil-A, parents do not have to avoid dining out completely. A few of their restaurants have introduced a valet drive through that allows parents to place an order with their kids in the car. Then they can park their cars, stroll inside the restaurant where a host will greet them and show the family to their seats. In the meantime, staff have prepared the table with the food, drinks, tablemats and as many high-chairs needed. Not all franchises offer this service. So far, it has been highly valued at Chick-Fil-A restaurants that there are plans to roll out this program at all locations.
4. You Are Not Drinking Concentrated Lemonade
Everyone loves lemonade that has been freshly prepared. There is no denying that fresh lemonade made from freshly harvested lemons supersedes concentrated lemonade any day. You already know that the lemonade served at Chick-Fil-A is freshly squeezed and extracted from real lemons. It is not your usual concentrate juice. But, did you know that the lemonade only contains three ingredients – lemon juice, pure cane sugar and water? And the lemons are squeezed each day by hand? There are no additives or preservatives. With just these three ingredients, they have served over 121 million cups of lemonade that is made of 250 million or more lemons. The lemonade offers a good dose of vitamin C. Also, if you have not already noticed, their lemonade is consistent in flavor at all their locations. Chick-Fil-A buys huge quantities of lemons from Sunkist, which known to be the best lemons. However, one lingering question remains on whether the diet version is as healthy as the regular lemonade since Splenda® is used instead of sugar. Rest assured, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that Splenda® is safe after reviewing many toxicology reports and clinical studies.
3. They Do Not Just Give Free Food to the First 100 Customers
You are aware that the first 100 customers that camp at any new Chick-Fil-A restaurant receive free food for a year limited, to 52 meals and consisting of the Chick-Fil-A sandwich, medium waffle fries and a medium drink. The way it works is that fans are encouraged to camp out in front of its new location before the grand opening in that region and promises to reward the first 100 customers to a free meal for an entire year. This concept has attracted many customers to Chick-Fil-A with large crowds arriving very early to participate in the campout giveaway. Astoundingly, more than 100 people actually bring their tents and camp out in front of the new restaurant in the main parking lot. This shows how tasty the Chick-Fil-A sandwich is! Due to its popularity, Chick-Fil-A had to introduce a free lottery system to select the first 100 customers. Aside from this, Chick-Fil-A is not only about business and profit. They want to help people experiencing hardship. They offer free food when disaster strikes. When the busiest airports were closed due to lack of power, Chick-Fil-A offered free food to stranded passengers and even operated on a Sunday to cater to these passengers. When tornadoes hit many of the states, Chick-Fil-A prepares free food for responders and people injured. Even when a homeless man entered a Chick-Fil-A branch begging for food, a restaurant manager offered free food in exchange for a prayer together.
2. The Company Can Never Go Public
Truett’s fortune during his operative days earned him a spot on the famous Forbes magazine as the wealthiest American in the country. Earning a whopping revenue of $8 billion in 2016, this poultry centric fast-food chain is gaining in popularity and believe it or not, is capable of surpassing other well-known fast food chains. It is predicted to be the third largest fast food chain. But despite the restaurant’s success and Forbes’ ranking, the founder Truett Cathy preferred to keep it a privately owned business. This is a mystery because many companies want to go public to expand their restaurant business and profitability. Chick-Fil-A is the hottest restaurant concept that can triple its already huge revenues with a public offering. However, according to the press, there will be no public offering anytime soon or even in the long-run. Truett Cathy obviously did not want shareholders telling him what to do when they do not know the restaurant, its culture and the way things operate at Chick-Fil-A. There is hearsay that it could be because of religious roots. Truett built his business putting people and principles first before profits. Dan, Truett’s son and Chick-Fil-A’s current President and CEO is open to go public with the restaurant in order to speed up expansion. His son took over in 2013 and in 2014 before Truett passed away, he made his children sign a contract agreeing that Chick-Fil-A will remain a privately owned business. Until today, Chick-Fil-A remains a family-owned business, but it is hard to say how binding the contract is and whether Truett’s wishes will be respected. Besides, even though going public is not in the plans for expansion, the company is less conservative with its franchise business model expansion. You can own a Chick-Fil-A franchise for as little as $10,000. Regardless, it is amazing to see that Truett’s guiding principles since 1967 hold firm until today.
1. Chick-Fil-A Supports the Livelihood of Local Farmers and Suppliers
It may not be apparent to us, but Chick-Fil-A is one restaurant that boosts local business for farmers and suppliers as well as promotes safety in food processing. Chick-Fil-A follows the philosophy that food is essential for life; therefore, it should be made right. This principle has guided the restaurant for over 50 years and is the reason for Chick-Fil-A investing heavily in locally farmed produce. Thanks to Chick-Fil-A, many local farmers and suppliers are flourishing in business within their states and thousands of jobs have been created in local communities. Chick-Fil-A staff personally visit farms and suppliers to ensure that global food safety standards are applied.
Did you know that Chick-Fil-A is one of the largest buyers of Sunkist lemons? They buy an estimate of 200 million lemons per year. The chickens they serve are raised in barns without cages. Chick-Fil-A chicken is 100% real and arrives at the restaurant fresh. There have been controversies of how the chickens were treated before they reached the restaurant, but Chick-Fil-A reassured the public that they only collaborate with suppliers who follow environmental stewardship and animal well-being standards. The coffee you drink at Chick-Fil-A is also from local farmers supplied through the Thrive Farmers, an organization that works to ensure coffee bean farmers receive as much money into their pockets. The famous waffle fries you eat are homegrown potatoes from the Johnson family who started their farm in 1906. The produce they serve is cultivated in the West Coast where the weather is perfect for veggie growth and supplied fresh six days a week except Sundays. Chick-Fil-A is also the largest domestic buyer of U.S peanut oil. Peanuts are a major crop in the south where Chick-Fil-A’s is headquartered, which is why makes sense to use this oil as the sole supply. About 1,600 local farmers produce and supply this nutritious crop which is processed into rich oil, free of trans-fat for all Chick-Fil-A restaurants. The oil is treated carefully to remove proteins that could cause any allergic reactions. All Chick-Fil-A restaurants diligently use 100% refined peanut oil to pressure-cook the chicken. It is no wonder the chicken tastes so delicious!