Chick-fil-A is one of the most popular fast-food restaurants in the country today, but its history dates back to the 1940s when founder S. Truett Cathy invented the chicken sandwich at his original restaurant, the Dwarf House, in Hapeville, Georgia. It would be another two decades before he used that recipe and opened the first ever Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia.
Today, the restaurant is predicted to become the third-largest fast-food chain in the country — a feat that would have it surpassing Wendy’s, Burger King, and even Taco Bell.
Here are 10 facts you never knew about everyone’s favorite fast-food chicken restaurant.
1. The “A” in the name is symbolic
The “A” at the end of “Chick-fil-A” isn’t just a fun play on the word chicken “fillet.” It also refers to the Grade A quality meat served at the restaurants.
2. Only three states don’t have Chick-fil-A restaurants
Since opening the first location in 1967, Chick-fil-A has made its way across the entire United States. Only three states don’t have a Chick-fil-A restaurant — Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont.
3. There is a Hawaiian-themed restaurant
Travel to Fayetteville, Ga. for the 8,000-square-foot tropical dine-in restaurant called Truett’s Luau for an array of seafood, chicken and pork items. In 2013 at the age of 92, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, opened Truett’s Luau as a special restaurant with an environment focusing on fun and celebrating life with friends and family.
4. Chick-fil-A loves lemons
Chick-fil-A is the largest buyer of Sunkist lemons in the world. In 2014, the fast food chain purchased 250 million lemons to make and serve 121 million cups of lemonade. Chick-fil-A buys more lemons each year than the entire country of Japan.
5. Waffle fries are most popular menu item
With “chicken” in the name, you might think that the chicken sandwich, or even the popular bite-sized nuggets would be the most-ordered item, but it turns out it’s the crispy waffle fries. The waffle friends didn’t appear on the menu until 1985. People have always loved dipping them in Chick-fil-A’s special sauce — which is by no means a secret. The company once tweeted that the recipe is a blend of honey mustard, barbecue, and ranch.
6. Pickle purveyor
Every Chick-fil-A restaurant is responsible for making its own pickles. It’s a process that takes three days and involves cutting up cucumbers and soaking them.
7. It’s the most successful fast-food chain
Chick-fil-A restaurants generate more money per restaurant than any other fast food chain. According to QSR Magazine, in 2017, its sales were $4.4 million per location. The next most successful chain is Whataburger with $2.7 million per location. Part of the success could be that the private company is very specific about who can run one of their shops. It’s only a $10,000 buy in, but an operator can only run one Chick-fil-A store at a time, and franchisees are expected to devote significant time and effort to that store.
8. Chick-fil-A will never go public
Before his death in 2014, founder Truett Cathy reportedly made his children sign a contract agreeing that’s company would remain private.
9. The Dwarf House came first
Before there was Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy opened the Dwarf House in 1946 in Hapeville, Ga. It was a classic diner-style restaurant that ironically served lots of steak and hamburgers. It was here that Cathy invented and taste-tested what would become the famous Chick-fil-A sandwich fans go crazy for today. There are still 12 Dwarf House locations across the U.S.
10. First 100 fans are rewarded with free chicken
When a new restaurant opens, Chick-fil-A encourages fan to camp out outside in the parking lot. For each Grand Opening, the first 100 guests receive free chicken sandwiches for a year.