Chick-fil-A has recently announced their decision of making their first steps toward becoming an international chain, and we couldn’t be more excited. The chain’s decision to open their first branch in Toronto isn’t too far a leap over international waters (actually there’s no water at all), but it is still an exciting move for them. Soon, everyone will be privy to the gloriousness of a Chick-fil-A tender chicken sandwich, the crispness of a perfect waffle fry and the tartness of their homemade lemonade. And we haven’t even mentioned their breakfast yet!
No matter where you are in the US, you’ll probably find a Chick-fil-A near you somewhere. The chain has dominated the US, and almost every single state has at least one store. With their popularity only increasing, we thought we’d take a deeper look at this beloved fast food chain. Here are 20 things to know about Chick-fil-A now that it is going international.
20 It’s the 'first' chicken sandwich (Unless someone can prove otherwise...)
Chick-fil-A claims that they were the ones who created the chicken sandwich back in the 1940s. That is a pretty bold claim, although it cannot be authenticated. Who knows who else was whipping up some fried chicken sandwiches back in their houses?
While nobody can really prove that Chick-fil-A did invent the chicken sandwich, there doesn’t seem to be anybody rushing forward claiming that Chick-fil-A is lying
and that they are the ones who created the sandwich. A more accurate claim is that Chick-fil-A is the first fast food restaurant to sell a fried chicken sandwich with pickles and a steamed roll, though!
19 It happened because of a mistake
The founder and creator of Chick-fil-A didn’t originally start with just making those mouthwatering sandwiches. The founder, S. Truett Cathy, was approached by the owners of the Goode Brothers Poultry Company who had a dilemma. The company had initially been asked to provide boneless, skinless, chicken breasts for an airline to use for their in-flight meals. However, when the product was delivered, it didn’t meet the requirements that the airline was looking for. So, with an entire shipment of raw chicken breasts and nowhere to go, the company approached S. Truett Cathy. He agreed to buy the shipment and then began to figure out the best way to incorporate it into his menu. After some trial and error, the famous Chick-fil-A sandwich was born.
18 Chicken Fillet Grade A (Yes, The 'A' Stands For The Quality)
Ever wonder where the name Chick-fil-A came from? Well, we’ll tell you! After he created the chicken sandwich – which was wildly popular – Cathy needed to give it a name. Just ‘Chicken Sandwich’ didn’t seem enough to him. The company that sold him the chicken breasts has an official statement that says the best part of a chicken is the boneless breasts (agree to disagree). In beef, a fillet is considered the best cut of beef.
So Cathy decided to call the sandwich a chick fillet. He then decided to add a capitalized A at the end to further indicate that the sandwich was of the best quality.
Thus, Chick-fil-A was born.
17 Before Chick-fil-A
As we’ve mentioned before, Cathy did not start out making only chicken sandwiches. He actually started out as co-owner of a small restaurant called Dwarf House alongside his brother, Ben. The restaurant served classic hamburgers and steaks on their menu until Cathy decided the start something new. The restaurant was located in Hapeville, Georgia when they were first approached by Goode Brothers Poultry. Today there are still 12 Dwarf House restaurants that are open and running, and they still serve a chicken sandwich. In fact, you can get all your Chick-fil-A favorites alongside even more fun dishes like Chicken and Waffles.
16 Shhhh, It’s a Secret
When Cathy first started experimenting with chicken, he made numerous recipes and tested them out on his customers. Time and time again he would make minor adjustments depending on the feedback from his crowd. Adding more spices, taking some out, cooking it one way, and cooking it another.
His final recipe supposedly contains over 20 ingredients. His final touch to the sandwich was to add two slices of pickles and his customers were in love.
They claimed the sandwich was perfect and Cathy left the recipe at that. To this day, the original recipe is still used. Nobody really knows everything that goes in it, though. In fact, the formula is locked away in a vault somewhere in the Chick-fil-A headquarters.
15 Peanuts upon Peanuts
One detail about the chicken at Chick-fil-A that we do know about is that all their stuff is cooked in peanut oil. This actually makes a huge difference in the taste of their food. The oil doesn’t overpower the flavor of the chicken, and it is free from trans-fat and cholesterol. The restaurant's dedication to using the much more expensive oil for all their cooking means that the company is the largest buyer of peanut oil in the country!
Also, if you have a peanut allergy, you don’t have to worry about eating at Chick-fil-A. All the oil goes through a special refining process that removes the protein that causes allergic reactions. Most people with allergies can still dine at Chick-fil-A (though it is always best to ask a doctor first).
14 Please and Thank You
It is a shame that we hear so many stories of people being treated horribly at a fast food place. Something about cheap food and short timeframes brings out the worst in people sometimes. However, at Chick-fil-A, you’ll always get excellent service. One of Chick-fil-A’s best qualities is how polite the people that work there are. The employees always say please and thank you, and are never rude to a guest. In fact,
Chick-fil-A was actually voted the ‘Most Polite Chain Restaurant’ by QSR Magazine.
Well, we’re not surprised seeing as how the company did start out in the South, and everybody knows about that Southern Charm.
13 I’ve Done My Waiting! Seven Years of It!
Chick-fil-A’s sandwiches are fantastic, no doubt. But have you ever tried their grilled nuggets!? Here is a fast food option that is healthy, and still mouth-wateringly delicious. It took the company SEVEN YEARS and 50 MILLION DOLLARS to develop this recipe, though. That is some expensive chicken! Granted, most of the time and money went towards developing a particular type of grill for cooking the chicken. Everybody loves the taste of grilled meats. So, the scientists behind Chick-fil-A developed a cast-iron grill that can cook the chicken at much faster speeds, so you don’t need to deal with the wait.
12 Waffle Fries > Chicken Sandwich
Although the chicken sandwich is what started the whole thing and made Chick-fil-A famous, it actually isn’t the most ordered item from the menu. That title of glory goes to their waffle fries. This actually isn’t all that surprising considering the number of times we’ve gone through just to get the fries. The waffle fries are the perfect shape for Chick-fil-A because they are excellent dippers. With so many sauce options, you need the perfect carrier, and the waffle fries answers the need. There isn’t a single sauce at Chick-fil-A that doesn’t go with those golden crispy fries. With just the right amount of salt and a delightful crisp, we’re going to go ahead and say that they are the ultimate fries.
11 Pickle Me Pink
You always hear and read so much about the chicken at Chick-fil-A, but have you ever heard anything about pickles? This green underdog is either loved or hated by the public. The chicken sandwich comes standard with two slices of pickles, but it isn’t uncommon for someone to ask for them to be removed. However, for those that do love the Chick-fil-A pickles, you're out of luck if you want to pick some up somewhere.
The Chick-fil-A pickles are a proprietary recipe and can ONLY be found at Chick-fil-A.
In fact, Cathy is so obsessed with the pickles, we’re even going so far as to say it is his favorite thing on the menu!
10 In Case of Emergency
Chick-fil-A has special contingency plans if things happen. Everything from a sudden hurricane, missed delivery, low stock, and who knows what else has been thought of. Regardless of what happens, if a Chick-fil-A is open, they MUST be able to serve a chicken sandwich. If the restaurant runs out of chicken, bread, cheese, tomato, etc., they are allowed to go to the neighborhood grocery store and pick up what they need until the issue is resolved. The only thing that matters is that a chicken sandwich is still being served. The only thing that cannot be replaced is as mentioned earlier, the pickle. This is something that Cathy refuses to budge on.
9 Chick-fil-A Sauce
Although the original chicken sandwich recipe is locked away somewhere and kept away from prying eyes, the Chick-fil-A sauce is under no such protection. Even though it is the signature sauce, the company doesn’t try to hide what is in the sauce. They’ve even gone ahead and tweeted what goes into the sauce!
Apparently, the sauce is actually a combination of three popular dipping sauces – honey mustard, bbq, and ranch.
Seems like the company figured that since those were the top three dipping sauces anyway, why not combine them? Well, they’re geniuses because we think that the Chick-fil-A sauce is the best.
8 Secret Menu
Everybody knows about the ‘not so secret’ menu at Starbucks, but do you know about the secret menu at Chick-fil-A? Turns out there are some pretty cool (and delicious) things that you can order at this chain. If you’re feeling extra hungry, you can ask for a double-decker. This means that whichever sandwich you end up ordering will have TWO meat patties instead of one! If you’re feeling some cheese fries, you can request that they place a slice over your hot fries and let the fries melt the cheese. You can even order a chicken quesadilla! Other items include root beer floats, lettuce wrapped sandwiches, and grilled cheeses.
Chick-fil-A is so popular that the average sales per restaurant are higher than any other fast food chain. This is a surprise considering
it is beating out empires such as McDonald’s and Burger King. One of the reasons is probably because Chick-fil-A is a bit pricier than other fast food places.
The slight rise in prices doesn’t seem to bother many people, though. It makes sense because they only use chicken breasts and peanut oil for their restaurants. We’re willing to pay a few extra cents for better quality! According to QST Magazine, Chick-fil-A’s average sales per restaurant is 4.4 million dollars!
6 Only $10,000
It is actually really cheap to open up a Chick-fil-A franchise. It will only cost you $10,000 to own one! The company even thoroughly covers all startup costs. From building materials, real estate, and equipment, everything is taken care of. However, it isn’t quite that easy to get your hands on a Chick-fil-A.
The cost may be cheap, but the process of getting a store is hard. You have to apply for a franchise, and the company gets up to 20,000 applications a year. Out of those 20,000, only about 70-80 applications are actually accepted.
In addition, to ensure quality, a person is only allowed to run and operate one franchise at a time. So don’t go thinking you can open a couple of them and then sit back and enjoy the profit.
Chick-fil-A already only uses the best quality ingredients that they can get. In an effort to be even better, the company has decided to go antibiotic-free. Most poultry farms use a combination of antibiotics to raise their chickens. This is so that there is less disease among the chickens and to stimulate growth in the animals. These may sound like positive effects, but the FDA is worried about what it means in the long run. The use of antibiotics can make some dangerous diseases resistant. Regardless, by switching to antibiotic-free, Chick-fil-A will be putting fewer chemicals into our food.
4 'Eat Mor Chikin'
Is it pretty witty for a chicken restaurant to use cows as their spokes…cows? The humorous ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ slogan being toted around by the black and white bovines never fails to bring a smile to our faces. Chick-fil-A has been using real cows as part of their advertisement campaign since 1995. The advertisements are a mix of real cows and mascots. Did you know that Chick-fil-A actually has four specific cows that they use over and over again? They even have names. Next time you see a Chick-fil-A commercial, just know that you’re looking at either Freedom, Freckles, Kat, or Molly.
3 Queuing Up
If you’re a loyal fan of this chain, then you might be familiar with this tradition. For all the newbies in Toronto, you might want to start camping out at the closest restaurant when the opening day draws near.
For every new franchise on opening day, the first 100 people in line receive free Chick-fil-A meals for an entire year.
They’ll get a special card that they can use to get one chicken sandwich meal each week. That’s 52 free meals! Many people start camping out days before in hopes of getting one of these prized cards. Some people glory in all the free food, while others sell the passes online for a quick buck!
2 Sacred Sundays
It seems like each time we start craving some Chick-fil-A it always ends up being a Sunday. This sucks because this is the only day during the week that the chain is closed! For 50 years, this chain has faithfully closed its doors on Sundays. This practice started almost the first week of opening day when Cathy opened his first place. In a documentary, he explained how tired he was after getting the restaurant off the ground. He needed a day of rest, and seeing as how he is a devout Christian, Sunday was the perfect day. There is still no foreseeable future in which the decision would be reversed.
1 Backstage Tours
If you’re truly a diehard fan of the chain, you can tour the Chick-fil-A headquarters located in Georgia. During this tour, you’ll be able to learn about the restaurant’s history (which we’ve already told you most of). For just 10 dollars per person, you can tour the company.
An extra 10 (so twenty) dollars will give you “The Deluxe” package. You’ll get to peek into the founder’s office (maybe find the vault the recipe is storied about), and take shuttle rides between the development kitchen and innovation center.
We bet it smells fantastic at the kitchen!