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Chick fil A: Will its sandwich giveaway change the way you order food?

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(Read caption) The spicy chicken sandwich is the first new sandwich for Chick-fil-A since 1989. By having consumers reserve a time to come in to try a free sandwich, the Atlanta-based fast-food chain's giveaway may be changing the way we order food.

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Chick-fil-A looks like it has mastered the free food giveaway for restaurants.

Instead of the usual drill when a restaurant offers free fare -- long lines and overworked staff -- the Atlanta-based fast-food chain is experimenting with a free-food offer with a twist:

Online reservations.

That's right. Consumers salivating to try Chick-fil-A's new spicy chicken sandwich must go to a special website and reserve a time between May 31 and June 5 to try one for free. The sandwich gets launched officially June 7.

The system not only avoids the cattle-car experience of some food giveaways, it also neatly limits the amount of free food that Chick-fil-A offer up. (Reservations are limited, so don't dawdle.)

But why stop there? If consumers can be persuaded to schedule a food giveaway online, imagine the other food experiences for which they'd gladly pull out a BlackBerry or iPhone.

Here is our Top 4 online reservation wish list:

4) The fast-food drive-through. Who wants to idle away their minutes behind a minivan with drivers yelling at a broken speaker when they could be reserving a Wendy's Baconator and fries pickup for 12:19 p.m.? (Penalty for being late: Your Frosty will melt.)

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3) The in-store sample. Use your iPhone to pick up the week's groceries at the same time that the nice Doritos lady is introducing a new line of chips. You get to taste how she does nachos and avoid the dude on Tuesdays making jerky from Vienna sausage.

2) Outdoor cafe table. Not just a reservation, a reserved table at Chez Pierre from 6 to 7:50 p.m. You guarantee your favorite table next to potted plant No. 2. And the waiter can kick you out at 8 if you linger too long over the vichyssoise.

1) Hot stadium meal. Since everyone goes to the concession stand at exactly same time, engendering long lines, wouldn't it make sense to schedule these things and have it delivered to your seat? Inning No. 1, the beverage guy delivers. Inning No. 2, the chili dog with all the trimmings arrives, followed closely by Mr. Frency Fry. By the time of the seventh inning stretch, you're ready for that ice cream novelty or a popcorn chaser.

Who knows? Maybe some of these ideas are already hitting the market. A British company is offering Mobo2go, a mobile phone ordering and payment system for stadiums where customers can order their food and input their seat number.

No word yet on whether fish and chips sales during Manchester United games are set to explode.


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