ATLANTA — Chick-fil-A, a fast-food chain known for its fried-chicken sandwiches, is adding cups of sliced apples, grapes, pineapple and oranges to its menu to give customers a healthier alternative.
Fruit cups are part of a new lineup of healthy offerings at the suburban Atlanta-based chain that includes water and a chargrilled chicken sandwich, which has 270 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.
Chick-fil-A says the moves are designed to keep pace with an industry trend and don't represent a shift away from the flagship chicken sandwich — which is pressure cooked in peanut oil and has 410 calories and 16 grams of fat.
"We don't want to reinvent our brand and try to be something different," said Woody Faulk, the chain's vice president of brand development. "We're not going to try to become the health brand or . . . the all-fried brand. We want to have everybody in the car be able to have something they can eat."
The fast-food industry, which has been targeted by lawsuits and criticism it is leading the nation down the road to obesity, has been moving for years toward healthier alternatives. Salads have become commonplace. And last month, McDonald's launched adult Happy Meals, complete with salad, bottled water, pedometer and health advice.
But providing fresh fruit has always been a problem as a fast food. The fruit has to be prepared properly and must be kept cold to prevent it from going bad. It's also more expensive.
Exchanging fries for fruit in a Chick-fil-A combo meal costs about 40 cents more. A regular-size fruit cup sells for $1.85 and a large for $2.85.
Kathy Neely of Riverdale, Ga., was trying out the fruit cups last week at a Chick-fil-A in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood. The chain has about 1,125 restaurants in 37 states and Washington, D.C.
"I know it's better for me than the fries," said Neely, 42. "When I start to eat healthy, I realize it tastes good, too."