Chick-fil-A's cell phone coop family challenge.

Chick-fil-A Family Challenge: Ditch Your Cell Phones For Free Dessert

Is your family up for the newest Chick-fil-A challenge? In a nutshell, it involves your cell phones, a cute little cardboard coop, and free ice cream. Yes, you heard that right, free ice cream!

According to Chick-fil-A’s website, this groovy idea is the brainchild of Brad Williams. Mr. Williams, who operates the chain’s Suwanee, Georgia, location, wanted to do something to bring families closer together at mealtime. The “cell phone coop” is his solution. He has this to say about the nifty idea.

“We really want our restaurant to provide a sense of community for our customers, where family and friends can come together and share quality time with one another. But as we all know, technology increasingly demands more of our time and can be a big distraction, even while we’re eating. This got me thinking about what we could do to reduce this distraction during meals.”

A red-and-white cardboard coop is waiting patiently on every table in William’s restaurant. After all, something needs to keep the vase of flowers company, right? There’s absolutely no pressure. Every family, big or small, is encouraged to participate.

Huffpost Taste brings up several good points when it comes to paying more attention to your cell phone than to the delicious morsels getting cold on your plate. First of all, how many times have you dropped your phone into something gooey? It isn’t pretty, is it?

If you’re totally distracted while eating a meal, it’s almost impossible to enjoy what you’re tasting. Worse yet, there’s a good chance you’ll consume a heck of a lot more than you normally would if you were phone-free. And let’s not forget the noise.

Getting back to Brad, he has this to say about the success of his challenge. It honestly gives a whole new meaning to the term “doggie bag.”

“The challenge has completely taken off. We have families who aren’t successful the first time and come back to try again. We even have people asking to take the boxes home with them! Our whole community is talking about it.”

What started out in one location, last January, has spread to almost 200 Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide. According to Today, many of the chain’s regular customers have already made “cooping their cell phones” an absolute must, before placing their orders.

Every family who ignores their cell phones for the entire meal gets a free ice cream cone. Or, in this case, a free iceDREAM cone.

Chick-fil-A isn’t the first eatery to give customers the incentive to turn off their phones at the dinner table. Several restaurants offer discounts of roughly 10 percent when guests agree to leave their phone in a designated location. Think “coat check” on a much smaller scale.

Last year, Pew Research Center conducted a survey in regard to what Americans really think about cell phone etiquette. The results are quite surprising. A whopping 62 percent of people surveyed indicated they frown on using cell phones in a restaurant setting.

Believe it or not, there’s even a Facebook Page solely dedicated to banning cell phones from restaurants. As of this writing, it doesn’t have a huge following, but, just like everything else, it’s the thought that counts.

It seems as though this Chick-fil-A family challenge has really got some people thinking about how important it is to opt for family conversation over technology, at least for part of the day.

There’s information floating around out there indicating that the chain is now number one in appeal to children. A pretty big feat when you consider the popularity of a Happy Meal.

Are you in the mood for free ice cream and great conversation? Why not challenge your family to silence their cell phones during a Chick-fil-A meal. Your “cell phone coop” awaits!

[Image by Paul Brennan via Shutterstock]