Confession: I've never been to Chick-fil-A. To me, that's just a random, fun fact. To others, it's sacrilegious.

In my defense, I was born and raised in Wisconsin, where cheese and custard are the prevailing food obsessions. Unless you count McDonald's nuggets, fried chicken was just not part of my childhood diet. Before setting out to write this article, all I knew about Chick-fil-A was that their marketing strategy relies heavily on cows who need spelling lessons and that they're closed on Sundays.

Chick-fil-A, however, is committed to contacting the unreached, fried chicken-less masses, myself included: they even published a Beginner's Guide to Chick-fil-A. From it, I learned everything I needed to know, like a breakdown of their seven sauces, and plenty that I didn't. Did you know that fanatics can win a year's worth of free chicken by camping out at new franchises? It's like Black Friday or Krzyzewskiville, only for chicken instead of electronic devices or Duke vs. UNC tickets.

I recruited two Chick-fil-A veterans (read: Southerners) to serve as my guides and set out on my quest. Here's what it's like to visit Chick-fil-A for the first time.

The Order

I drove to Chick-fil-A on a Tuesday night. When planning this trip, I proudly told my friends that we couldn't go on Sunday because Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. They were unimpressed by my paltry Chick-fil-A knowledge and recommended Tuesday. 

When we first walked in, we noticed a prominent sign advertising salads, and one of my guides remarked that the grilled chicken wrap looked good. The second guide, however, stayed the course: “We are here for fried chicken,” she said firmly. I was thankful to have brought two experts. I made them order first so I could observe proper Chick-fil-A ordering etiquette. When my turn came, I ordered a chicken sandwich, fries and a milkshake.

The cashier definitely sensed that I was new to this whole Chick-fil-A thing. I had to ask him to clarify what exactly the combo included, and which of the seven sauces he recommended. I was pleasantly surprised by his unwavering enthusiasm, courtesy and patience. Is this a southern thing or a Chick-fil-A thing?

The Ambiance

Emily Waples

At first glance, I thought that Chick-fil-A looked just like any other fast food joint, from the number-and-picture menu to the trays. But when I sat down, I started to appreciate how clean it was: instead of the usual stray crumbs or napkins, our table was decorated with a rose. "Have they just not cleaned up after Valentine’s Day or is Chick-fil-A always this fancy?" I wondered.

The Food

Emily Waples

My underwhelming-looking sandwich (fried chicken and a measly three pickles) arrived quickly. Following my guides' advice, I spread Chick-fil-A sauce on the bun and took a bite. The guides watched with anticipation. "It's good," I said. Not earth-shatteringly so, but certainly a solid chicken sandwich, and made all the better by the mysterious Chick-fil-A sauce.

Emily Waples

I tried the fries and found that their waffle shape made for optimal dipping. Like the sandwich, the fries were elevated by the addition of Chick-fil-A sauce and ketchup (my favorite condiment, with Chick-fil-A sauce coming in next, and the overly-sweet honey mustard lagging far behind in third).

Emily Waples

Lastly, I took a sip of the milkshake. Unlike a super thick Cookout shake, I could drink the Chick-fil-A cookies and cream shake with a straw. I maintain that Cookout is better (my guides disagreed), but I concede that the shake wasn't half-bad.

The Verdict

I left Chick-fil-A with one less fun fact and a new liking for fried chicken. Did I find Chick-fil-A life to be changing? No. Will I be back? Probably. After all, I didn't even get the best milkshake. Or the nuggets.