20 Things You Didn’t Know About Chick-fil-A

This chain may be controversial, but those chicken sandwiches sure are tasty
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In certain parts of the country, even the best fried chicken sandwiches are synonymous with Chick-fil-A. In recent years, the sandwich that put it on the map has been joined by wraps, salads and even a breakfast menu, but that no-frills fried chicken sandwich with dill pickle chips has become a hallmark of American casual cuisine. Whether you’re a loyal devotee or are boycotting the chain over the owners’ stance on gay marriage, we bet that there are some things you didn’t know about this famous chicken chain.

From its close relationship to Ford Motor Company to what the “A” stands for in Chick-fil-A, there are a ton of trivia-worthy things you had no idea about regarding America’s third-favorite fast food chain. Like for instance: They get all their potatoes from one particular state. Plus, there’s a way to get free Chick-fil-A for a year and also a secret menu with a quesadilla on it. But there are even more things we bet you didn’t know about Chick-fil-A.

It traces its origins to a restaurant called Dwarf Grill

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That’s the name of the restaurant that S. Truett Cathy opened in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia. The name was later changed to Dwarf House. 

It owes its early success to Ford

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Dwarf Grill was located very close to the Ford Motor Company’s since-demolished Atlanta assembly plant, and many of the restaurant’s early customers worked at the factory. This built-in clientele helped keep the restaurant afloat. 

The signature chicken sandwich didn’t appear until 15 years after opening

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It wasn’t until 1961, after 15 years of running Dwarf House, that Cathy happened upon the pressure fryer that would allow him to branch off and start Chick-fil-A, and it wasn’t until 1967, six years after that, that the first Chick-fil-A opened. Nobody ever said recipe and concept development were easy!

It has a unique franchise model

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Chick-fil-A scouts restaurant locations, builds them, then sells franchise rights to operators for only a $5,000 initial investment. This is quite different from the fast food standard; most franchise owners need to fork over nearly $2 million to open a location. For the 67 to 70 new locations that open yearly, nearly 25,000 potential franchisees submit applications. 

The chicken in the logo is named Doodles

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Before the “Eat mor chikin” cows, who debuted in 1995, the chicken that’s still featured in the chain’s logo was the mascot of Chick-fil-A. Its name is Doodles. 

Mike Huckabee was responsible for record-breaking sales

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Mike Huckabee, who agrees with Cathy’s anti-gay views, came out in support of his statements and even organized a Chick-fil-A appreciation day to counter the boycott that was picking up steam. On August 1, 2012, hundreds of thousands of fellow anti-gay diners showed their support by visiting their local Chick-fil-As, which resulted in record-breaking profits for the day, with 30 percent more sales than usual.

The chain spent its first 19 years in food courts

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The first Chick-fil-As were only opened in suburban mall food courts. It wasn’t until 1986, 19 years after the first location opened, that the first stand-alone location opened its doors.

The world’s largest Chick-fil-A is in New York City

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One location in lower Manhattan is over 12,000 square feet, can seat up to 140 people and even has a rooftop terrace.

Their chicken is hand-breaded on site

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On an “Ask Me Anything” Reddit Chick-fil-A thread, a restaurant employee told inquisitive Redditors that the chicken used in everything from sandwiches to nuggets is fresh and that employees hand-bread then fry the meat on site.

Employees get a free meal for every 5 1/2 hours of work

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On the same thread, an employee revealed that anyone working at Chick-fil-A for five and a half hours or longer gets a free meal from the restaurant. That means they have their choice of everything on the menu from sandwiches to macaroni and cheese.

You can order Oreo pieces in any drink you want

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Turns out you can add Oreo cookie pieces to any beverage you order. The Redditor and Chick-fil-A employee who revealed this said that they’ve even seen orders for a lemonade with Oreo pieces. Gross!

The A stands for ‘grade A’

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The A in Chick-fil-A actually stands for “grade A,” because the brand strives for top quality, according to their Chick-fil-A Beginner’s Guide.

Their potatoes are all from Washington state

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According to the restaurant’s website, the chicken chain also sources all of its potatoes for its fries from farmers in Washington state near the mineral-rich Columbia River Basin.

There is a Hawaiian-themed Chick-fil-A in Georgia

There’s actually a Hawaiian-themed Chick-fil-A in Fayetteville, Georgia, called “Truett’s Luau.” The restaurant opened in 2013 and was the final location that founder Truett Cathy opened. The menu offers both typical Chick-fil-A fare such as chicken sandwiches and waffle fries as well as Hawaiian-inspired classics like plate lunch and mahi-mahi. According to the restaurant’s website, almost every piece of the restaurant’s kitschy luau décor was handpicked by Cathy himself.

The first 100 customers at a new Chick-fil-A location get free chicken for a year

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If you are one of the first 100 customers invited to the opening of any new Chick-fil-A restaurant, you will receive free Chick-fil-A for a year. According to Chick-fil-A’s website, their grand openings typically include singing, dancing, games and free food, plus a year’s supply of the restaurant’s chicken.

Chick-fil-A sauce is made with 3 sauces

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In 2012, the chicken chain revealed via Twitter that their Chick-fil-A sauce is actually a blend of honey mustard, barbecue and ranch sauces. Seems like something you could make at home!

The pickles are made on site

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Chick-fil-A brines their pickles for three days on site before slicing them up and stacking them on sandwiches.

The chicken is fried in peanut oil

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The chicken chain’s poultry is fried in peanut oil, so be careful if you have peanut allergies! The company is also the largest buyer of peanut oil in the U.S.

Their ‘secret menu’ includes a quesadilla

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Every chain restaurant seems to have a secret menu, and Chick-fil-A is no different. The chain’s secret menu includes cool shake flavors and even a chicken quesadilla!

Kids can trade a toy for a free ice cream cone

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If you’ve got enough toys at home, kids can swap the toy that comes with their meal for a free ice cream cone. That’s a super sweet perk — as long as you live near a Chick-fil-A. Only three states still don’t have a location as of this writing, meaning Chick-fil-A is no longer just one of those regional fast food chains we wish were national.

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