Something about Chick-fil-A turns normal folks into addicts (the peanut oil, perhaps?). Which explains why the Atlanta-based fast-food chain is offering reservations at its 1,485 restaurants when it unveils its first new sandwich since 1989: the spicy chicken sandwich.
Beginning today, customers can go to the site and make a reservation between May 31 and June 5 to try the sandwich -- for free. (Note to St. Louisans: As of this writing, 322 reservation spots remain at the West County Center location; 1,481 at the Chick-fil-A at St. Clair Square Mall.)
Before you go reserving yourself a slot, you might wonder how the sandwich differs from the regular version.
"A fiery blend of several peppers," for one.
"As for the heat level, well, we offer a wide choice of beverages to cool things down!" exclaims William F. "Woody" Faulk, Chick-fil-A's vice president of brand strategy and design. "The sandwich will definitely wake up your taste buds -- so much so that we're printing a lighthearted message on the packaging warning customers that the sandwich 'may start mouth fires'."
Say that with us: "mouth fires."
Adding another sandwich to the menu, even a spicy version of one already on the menu, is evidently a huge undertaking. Restaurants will have to install new equipment:
The rollout requires a number of kitchen equipment additions, including the installation of new pressure cookers and ventilation systems at most restaurants in order to prevent the spicy recipe from crossing over to other menu items.
The costs shouldn't break the fast-food chain, which took in $3.2 billion in 2009.
"We are extremely fortunate to be in a position to make these multimillion-dollar investments during tough economic times," says Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A's senior vice president of marketing. "Much of our competition is hesitant to make new product investments these days and instead have chosen to focus on dollar menus and product discounts to drive traffic."
So there you have it, members of the Cult of Chick-fil-A. Make your reservation or join the cattle call of customers on June 7 when the sammy goes on sale nationwide.
Let's go out with this song, a true Southern treat: an ode to Chick-fil-A set to the tune of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American"...