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Virginia

Christianity and chicken: Chick-fil-A tops the list as No. 1 fast-food in Virginia

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Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy put religion No. 1 in his life as a Southern Baptist.

And Virginia puts Chick-fil-A No. 1 as its favorite fast-food restaurant.

The most obvious reflection of the late founder’s religious beliefs in how the company operates is the fact that all Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays in accordance with the Christian doctrine of first-day Sabbatarianism.

According to a study by Pricelisto, an analysis of Google U.S. data revealed the most popular fast-food restaurants in each state based on search interest and popularity in the last 12 months.

Chick-fil-A is No. 1 in Virginia, followed by Hardee’s and Five Guys.

The first freestanding Chick-fil-A opened in 1967 in Atlanta. In an ABC News “Nightline” interview, Truett’s son, Dan T. Cathy, said the company is closed on Sundays because his father figured that if he didn’t want to work on Sundays, others did not either. According to the restaurant’s website, Truett Cathy had worked in restaurants that were open 24 hours, seven days a week. When he opened his first restaurant in 1946, the restaurant was closed on Sundays.

Chick-fil-A’s official corporate purpose is “(t)o glorify God by being the faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

In 2013, Truett Cathy stepped down as CEO and chairman. He died in 2014. With 2,700 branches, Chick-fil-A brings in $16 billion every year.

“Fast food has become a staple of many Americans daily lives. Over a quarter of American adults eat fast food daily and therefore there is such a huge number of fast-food branches spread across the states,” a Pricelisto spokesperson said in a press release about the survey.

The quick service restaurant industry is worth more than $250 billion in the U.S.

“However, the vast array of cuisine available means that Americans have a fantastic choice of dining experiences to enjoy, and not all are the typical unhealthy stereotypes that come to mind when you hear fast food. Everything is okay in moderation and a balanced lifestyle can be achieved while still enjoying these popular cuisines,” the spokesperson said.

In 2021, Dan Cathy drew controversy to Chick-fil-A for his financial support of the National Christian Charitable Foundation, an organization reportedly opposed to the Equality Act to expand rights for LGBTQ+. According to Yahoo News, Cathy was a long-time supporter of NCF and donated $5,750 in 2018, 2017 and 2016.

According to The Cold Wire, Chick-fil-A is so popular because of its low price-point, treating employees well, providing great taste and high-quality food, in-depth training opportunities and its availability everywhere. The airport, the mall, a baseball game (Fredericksburg Nationals), if you’re craving a Chick-fil-A sandwich, salad or milk shake, you can find it near you.

Anytime, however, is not the case. Sundays are difficult when lunch comes and you’re craving a chicken sandwich with waffle fries and a chocolate shake.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.