Bulldog helps Chick-fil-A bring new menu items to life

Chick-fil-A’s classic chicken sandwiches and waffle fries are beloved by fans around the world—but how does the brand introduce new items to their iconic menu?  

Kaitlin Miller Febles (AB ’13, AB ’13, ABJ ’13) is a menu and packaging category lead in Chick-fil-A’s marketing department and a member of the 2023 class of the UGA Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40. In her role, she provides strategic leadership to menu additions, deletions, or simplifications from their initialization through their launch at restaurants. 

Kaitlin’s specific menu categories are salads, sides and grilled entrees. She’s probably worked on a few of your favorites! 

Kaitlin on the field with a cow mascot at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Kaitlin said that the process of creating a new menu item at Chick-fil-A goes through a few different stages. First, initial research and brainstorming, then development and testing, ending with a final recommendation to leadership and, if a menu item is made official, a chain-wide rollout. 

“In the process, we work with key partners all throughout our business–customer insight analysts, culinary developers, engineers, field operations liaisons, food safety experts, nutritionists, equipment technicians, advertisers, pricing strategists, digital leaders, supply chain sourcers, training producers, public relations spokespeople, and of course, our restaurant operators and team members who provide us with crucial feedback in test and ultimately bring the concepts to life for our guests,” Kaitlin said. 

Kaitlin hands out samples of a new menu item at the downtown Athens Chick-fil-A.

Kaitlin’s team members are usually leading multiple projects at different stages of the development process. Most recently, she worked on the Maple Pepper Bacon Sandwich (which tested this summer in Lexington, Kentucky, and Indianapolis) and a Citrus Berry Salad (which tested this year in Baltimore). 

She and her team have also worked on recent changes to menu items like the Kale Crunch Side, Greek Yogurt Parfait, Mac & Cheese and Waffle Potato Chips—plus a few other projects that she can’t share about publicly just yet!

Kaitlin (far right) and her colleagues—including UGA Foundation trustee Michael Patrick (second from right)—visit a Chick-fil-A waffle potato chip production facility.

Tasty Tailgate: Surcheros’ Guacamole

Luke Christian (AB ’01) founded Surcheros, a Tex-Mex chain known for fresh food and friendly service, in 2007. The restaurant has locations throughout the Southeast, including an Athens, Georgia location that opened in 2022.

We’ve partnered with Luke, who was also a member of the 2018 class of UGA Alumni Association 40 Under 40 honorees, to share Surcheros’ original guacamole recipe to help you take your tailgate to the next level. This fresh, chunky guacamole is sure to be a game day crowd pleaser–and only takes a few minutes to make!

Surcheros’ Guacamole

Makes approximately 1 quart


5 avocados

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapenos

1/3 cup lime juice

1 cup diced yellow onions

1 cup diced tomatoes

½ cup chopped cilantro


  1. Remove stem from avocados, then cut in half and remove pits.
  2. Scoop out pulp into a bowl with a spoon.
  3. Add salt, fresh jalapeño and lime juice. Smash mixture with potato masher, but leave chunky.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and fold with a spatula until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  5. If not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap so no air is in contact with the guacamole. Guacamole will stay fresh for up to three days in the fridge.

Celebrate International Literacy Day with UGA alumni authors

International Literacy Day has been celebrated every year on September 8 since 1966, when UNESCO officially declared the date during the 14th session of their General Conference. The day highlights literacy for all people, communities and societies around the globe. 

Books by UGA alumni authors have graced bookshelves around the world. Here are a few standouts to help you celebrate International Literacy Day. 

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Stacy Willingham’s (ABJ ’13) debut novel is a New York Times Bestseller. The thriller follows the aftermath of the mysterious disappearance of six teenage girls in a small Louisiana town. Stacy donates a portion of her book sales to charity at the end of each year, including the Trident Literacy Association, and is a member of the 2023 class of UGA Alumni Association 40 Under 40 honorees. 

The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the pen name of Kathy Hogan Trocheck (ABJ ’76). Kathy is based in Savannah, Georgia, and her lush romance and mystery novels are beloved by readers for their colorful characters and Southern flair. 

Heisman: The Man Behind the Trophy by John M. Heisman with Mark Schlabach

Mark Schlabach (ABJ ’96) is a sports journalist who graduated from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications. He partnered with co-author John M. Heisman to write the ultimate biography of the man behind the iconic collegiate football award. 

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

Photographer Brandon Stanton’s (AB ’08) street photography of New Yorkers grew to internet fame with 12.8 million followers on Instagram and a popular blog featuring interviews of his subjects. Some of his most compelling photos and stories have been compiled into his book, Humans of New York.  

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Delia Owens’s (BS ’71) immensely popular novel is a murder mystery and coming-of-age story set in the marshes of North Carolina. The book’s film adaptation, produced by Reese Witherspoon and starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, was a box office hit, grossing $144.3 million. 

Bulldogs aren’t just writing books to improve literacy–they’re volunteering and doing advocacy work, like Christina P. Koebel (ABJ ’07), also a member of the 2023 class of UGA Alumni Association 40 Under 40 honorees. 

Christina, who currently works for The Weather Company as chief of staff to the CEO, is working on her first fiction novel and volunteers as a literacy helper at her children’s elementary school, assisting kindergarten children with reading in a one-on-one setting. 

Read more about this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees at https://alumni.uga.edu/40u40/. 

Tasty Tailgating: Southern Belle Farm’s Strawberry Cake

Everybody knows that one of the most important parts of any successful tailgate is delicious food. To help you set up the football buffet of your dreams, we’ve partnered with UGA alumni experts to share some of their favorite game day recipes.  

First up is Easy Strawberry Cake from the Carter family inspired by the bakery at Southern Belle Farm. This sweet treat comes together using a surprising ingredient–boxed cake mix!  

Southern Belle Farm is in Henry County, Georgia, and has been run by the Carters for five generations. The owner, James Carter (BSA ’69, MS ’73) and his son, Jake Carter (BBA ’03) are UGA alumni. 


Easy Strawberry Cake

Makes 16 servings

Total time: 40 minutes



15.25 oz box white cake mix

3 oz box strawberry Jello

1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen and mashed or finely chopped)

¾ cup vegetable oil

½ cup whole or 2% milk

4 large eggs at room temperature

Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing:

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature

½ cup butter at room temperature

5 to 6 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

¼ cup strawberries (fresh or frozen and mashed or finely chopped, drained)


For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray pan(s) with nonstick spray or Wilton cake release.
  2. Add cake mix, eggs, milk and vegetable oil to a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer and mix well. Mix in the 1 cup of strawberries and the strawberry Jello powder.
  3. Mix 3 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among two 9-inch rounds, three 8-inch rounds, or one 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the icing:

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the sugar one cup at a time to the mixture, then add heavy cream and strawberries and incorporate completely.
  2. Remove the domed tops of the cake with a cake leveler or large serrated knife.
  3. If making a layered cake, place one layer of cake on a serving plate and spread about 1 cup of frosting over the top in an even layer before topping with the other cake round. For a three-layered cake, add another cup of frosting and the final layer of cake.
  4. Frost the outside of the cake using an offset spatula to get an even layer.