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11 Filling Facts About Chick-fil-A

Earning the title of America's favorite fast food restaurant is not something that happens overnight. Founder S. Truett Cathy and his family have been selling their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries to hungry customers across much of the country for seven decades, and each year the company adds dozens and dozens of new locations to the map. If there isn't one already, chances are that there will be a Chick-fil-A near you soon, so here are some things that you might not know about the chain.

1. CHICK-FIL-A INVENTED THE CHICKEN SANDWICH.

In 1946, Samuel Truett Cathy and his brother Ben opened a small restaurant called the Dwarf Grill in Hapeville, Georgia, roughly 80 miles from where they were born in Eatonton. According to the company [PDF], Cathy was approached by the owners of the Goode Brothers Poultry company of Atlanta with a problem and a potential offer. That set of brothers, Jim and Hall Goode, had been asked to provide boneless, skinless chicken breasts for airline meals, but at the end of their process, the chicken did not meet airline requirements and could not be used. Cathy agreed to accept the shipment of chicken and began developing a way to make it work for his restaurant’s menu.

After trying various cooking methods, ingredients, and seasonings, he arrived at one (which included two pickle slices) that his customers liked and added it to the menu. The company says that the secret recipe has not changed over the past 50 years, and that it is locked away in a vault at Chick-fil-A headquarters.

2. THE COMPANY IS THE LARGEST BUYER OF U.S. PEANUT OIL.

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The chicken in Chick-fil-A sandwiches is fried in 100 percent refined peanut oil, which the company says is a part of the secret. The supply of peanuts comes from 1600 farms in states including Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. The oil reportedly does not add flavor to the chicken, and Chick-fil-A says that the refining process used by its suppliers removes the proteins that trigger reactions in those who suffer from peanut allergies, though they still suggest that customers with allergies consult their doctors first.

3. THE SANDWICH PRE-DATES THE NAME OF THE RESTAURANT.

After inventing the hit sandwich, Cathy needed to call it something. “He began to reflect on the product, made from what was widely considered to be the best part of the chicken—a boneless breast,” reads an official origin statement from the company [PDF]. Comparing his sandwich to a beef fillet (the “best cut of beef”), Cathy decided it could be called a chicken fillet, which became chick fillet, which became Chick-fil-A. The “A” in the name was capitalized to indicate that the food the restaurant served was of the best quality.

4. IT WAS A FAVORITE OF MALL RATS.

Chick-fil-A now has over 2000 locations in 43 states across the country, but customers used to have to visit shopping malls to get their chicken sandwich and waffle fries fix. The first in-mall restaurant opened in the suburbs of Atlanta in 1967 (not long after the birth of the mall food court). The shift to establishing more standalone locations came in 1994, and Chick-fil-A’s memorable billboard campaigns soon followed.

5. THE COW MASCOTS HAVE NAMES.

Because the company was in the business of selling sandwiches and not burgers, Chick-fil-A adopted spokes-cows as ambassadors of the “Eat Mor Chikin” movement. From 1995 until present day, real cows (and some fake ones) have starred in the restaurant's billboards, television commercials, print ads, and Facebook posts. For Cow Appreciation Day 2015, Chick-fil-A introduced the world to Cowboy Phil, the farmer and caretaker at the animal rental site where the four cows (named Freedom, Freckles, Kat, and Molly) live with other trained industry animals.

6. ALL LOCATIONS ARE CLOSED ON SUNDAYS.

Because of Cathy’s religious beliefs, all restaurant locations are closed for the Sabbath and holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. “My decision to close on Sunday came the first week it was in business,” Cathy said in a short documentary. “I was thoroughly exhausted and I had to make a decision. I needed that day, I want to preserve that day. Sunday is the Lord’s Day … we haven’t been open on Sunday in 50 years and we don’t intend to change that policy.”

However, individual Chick-fil-A stores will temporarily break protocol, as one Orlando-based restaurant did on June 12 to feed those who donated blood to help the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting that weekend.

7. EVERY TIME A NEW LOCATION OPENS, 100 PEOPLE EAT FREE FOR A YEAR.

The ever-expanding chain has a tradition that hardcore fans eagerly anticipate. The First 100 program celebrates the opening of each new Chick-fil-A location by giving the first 100 people in line free meals (one per week) for an entire year. Customers often camp out to be a part of that select few, and winners have successfully flipped their passes on eBay for cold hard cash. According to the Tampa Bay Times, there is even one superfan who has attended over 110 camp outs and has traveled up to 2900 miles for a single opening.

8. THERE IS A SECRET MENU.

Want a chicken sandwich with a little kick, or something flatter and more Mexican inspired? According to some sources, Chick-fil-A’s secret menu includes a buffalo chicken sandwich and a chicken quesadilla for those in the know. There is also a way to get a free soft serve instead of a toy when snacking from the kid’s menu, and some have asked for blueberry cheesecake slices blended into vanilla milkshakes.

9. FANS CAN GO ON OFFICE TOURS IN ATLANTA.

Chicken sandwich lovers in Atlanta have the opportunity to tour the Chick-fil-A headquarters in Georgia to learn more about the history and culture of the company. Called the Backstage Home Office Tour, the experience costs $10 per person for “The Original” and $20 per person for “The Deluxe,” which includes a look at Truett Cathy’s office and a shuttle ride to the innovation center and development kitchen.

10. IT SELLS PRETTY NICHE MERCHANDISE.

In addition to branded T-shirts and drinking glasses, Chick-fil-A fans can also show their love for the chain by purchasing umbrellas, cow-themed clocks, and cowbells from their online merch store. Past items that are currently not available online include Chick-fil-A visors, antenna toppers, golf towels, mouse pads, memo boards, backpacks, sunglasses, and rulers.

11. IT WAS THE FIRST QUICK SERVICE CHAIN TO GO ANTIBIOTIC FREE.

Chick-fil-A announced in 2014 that it would be making the major shift to using only antibiotic-free chicken at its restaurants by the year 2019. According to CNN, the antibiotics are used to stimulate growth and make the chickens less likely to become diseased, but the FDA and others have expressed concerns that the use of antibiotics for unnecessary purposes would lead to dangerous diseases becoming resistant.

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This Just In
Target Expands Its Clothing Options to Fit Kids With Special Needs
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Target

For kids with disabilities and their parents, shopping for clothing isn’t always as easy as picking out cute outfits. Comfort and adaptability often take precedence over style, but with new inclusive clothing options, Target wants to make it so families don’t have to choose one over the other.

As PopSugar reports, the adaptive apparel is part of Target’s existing Cat & Jack clothing line. The collection already includes items made without uncomfortable tags and seams for kids prone to sensory overload. The latest additions to the lineup will be geared toward wearers whose disabilities affect them physically.

Among the 40 new pieces are leggings, hoodies, t-shirts, bodysuits, and winter jackets. To make them easier to wear, Target added features like diaper openings for bigger children, zip-off sleeves, and hidden snap and zip seams near the back, front, and sides. With more ways to put the clothes on and take them off, the hope is that kids and parents will have a less stressful time getting ready in the morning than they would with conventionally tailored apparel.

The new clothing will retail for $5 to $40 when it debuts exclusively online on October 22. You can get a sneak peek at some of the items below.

Adaptive jacket from Target.
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Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

Adaptive apparel from Target.

[h/t PopSugar]

All images courtesy of Target.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
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“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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