In 1946, Truett Cathy opened an innovative restaurant, the Dwarf Grill, which would later morph into Chick-fil-A — one of the biggest fast-food chains in America.
Some say that Chick-fil-A helped kick off the “more healthful” revolution of fast food, but holes remain in its “better fast food” campaign. Generally, the ingredients are simple: Only whole chicken breast is used to make their signature sandwich; fresh produce is delivered regularly; and a recent commitment to removing antibiotics reflects the brand’s efforts toward cleaner foods. “We’re all about chicken, so you can be sure that we’re extremely selective about the chicken we serve,” says a Chick-fil-A representative.
“We will always have our classics that our guests know and love, like the Original Chicken Sandwich and Waffle Fries,” the representative adds, but the company is also committed to continually searching to better its brand.
Here are six current efforts — and our additional suggestions for change — that will allow the brand to live up to the "healthy" fast food hype while remaining insanely delicious. We can only hope more fast food chains will follow suit.
1. Spice It Up
The addition of the Spicy Chicken Sandwich in 2010 was a moment to behold, and it has left many wanting more. “Our customers have expressed that they are looking for bolder, spicier flavors, which was part of the catalyst to add the Spicy Southwest Salad to the menu earlier this year,” explains the representative.
While the removal of the Spicy Chicken Biscuit this past summer to make room for the healthier Egg White Grill was completely heartbreaking, all would again be right in the world with the addition of a spicy grilled sandwich — it could be a healthier version of the original sandwich while curbing customer's spicy food cravings.
2. Simplify Milkshakes
Vanilla, the most basic milkshake, contains artificial flavoring, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and food coloring. It’s no secret these ingredients have scary links to cancer, ADHD, allergic reactions and more health problems.
Plus, these ingredients just don’t taste as good as the real thing. Milkshakes need a major makeover, and so does the classic Chick-fil-A Icedream recipe, as it’s the base of every milkshake and also contains artificial flavor. However, Icedream is free of food coloring. Although the representative did not provide dates or details, an ice-cream cleanup is on the to-do list!
3. Lose the MSG
MSG has been linked to severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, nausea, headaches, chest pain and a list of other symptoms. Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A’s irresistible breading is infused with a dose of the flavor enhancer. Celtic sea salt would be a natural, mineral-rich alternative. Plus, it has less sodium than plain salt.
“While we do currently have MSG in some of our menu options, we realize some customers may be sensitive to it, so we are researching the removal of MSG from these menu items,” the representative informs.
(Please take the yellow and blue food coloring out of those tasty little sandwich pickles too!)
4. Toss Sneaky Sauces
“We actually removed HFCS and artificial colors from our dressings and sauces back in 2015. There are only a few sauces and dressings left that contain limited amounts of corn syrup and caramel coloring,” says Chick-fil-A’s representative. Ketchup still contains HFCS, and the light Italian dressing contains caramel coloring, but the site states that its efforts continue to remove these ingredients.
5. Remove the Dextrose From the Fries
Chick-fil-A is certainly not the only restaurant that adds a little sweetness to its fries. The representative adds that dextrose improves the color of the fries, and the taste would not be affected if it were removed. But by all means, let’s ditch that junk! Dextrose contributes to imbalanced blood sugar levels.
6. More Low-Carb Options
The Spicy Southwest Salad seems to be one of the few low-carb options. While the available salads are great, the menu could use more versatile options, such as Caesar or Greek variations. “We look at salad options like fashion, and trends are always changing. We are exploring some new, seasonal flavors and will be sure to share any new announcements to our salad lineup,” adds the representative.
Healthier sides still have a relatively high carbohydrate content as well, with the Superfood Side Salad having 25 grams and the fries 43 grams. However, the representative says, “Our fruit cup and side salad both have fewer than 10 grams of carbohydrates and can be ordered individually as a side option or as a replacement to waffle fries with any of our combo meals.”
Yet despite the company’s best efforts, there is still a lack in solid, lower-carb sides. Such as steamed veggies or sweet potato fries.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you eat at Chick-fil-A? Do any of these new findings surprise you? What other changes would you like to see from Chick-fil-A and all fast-food restaurants for that matter?