How does Chick-fil-A decide which items to add to its menu?

5 things to know about... Chick-fil-A 1. Chick-fil-A was founded in 1946 by native Georgian S. Truett Cathy. After his death in 2014, his son Dan took over as Chick-fil-A Chairman, President and CEO. Chick-fil-A holds true to its metro Atlanta roots, maintaining its headquarters in suburban College Park, Ga. 2. The original restaurant, originally named The Dwarf Grill and later renamed The Dwarf House, is still in its 1946 location in Hapeville, Ga., and still operates 24 hours a day (except Sunday). The

You may have come across our mouthwatering list of items no longer on Chick-fil-A's national menu — like the spicy chicken biscuit or cinnamon clusters. But have you ever wondered what exactly leads up to the Georgia-based chain's decision to add or remove menu items?

Amanda Norris, executive director of Chick-fil-A's menu, recently told Business Insider about the five-step strategy behind the chain's decision-making.

Norris said it takes about 18-24 months for a new idea to actually make it to restaurants. With help from Atlanta chef Ford Fry, the folks at Chick-fil-A look around the country for inspiration. This first step of inception, Norris told Insider, is grounded in understanding.

» RELATED: Here are a few items you will no longer find on the Chick-fil-A menu

Step two is where imagination comes into play. Without worrying about the final product, Chick-fil-A considers “a blueprint of sorts” and “runs these ideas by customers,” Insider reported. At this stage, up to 50 imaginative options might be considered simultaneously.

Chick-fil-A recent reveal that it may be exploring vegan options, for example, is part of this second stage.

Next, Norris told Insider, comes prototype and development. Once the chain has a feel of how customers respond to certain products in the “imagine” stage, the restaurant begins creating prototypes for testing. If there are 50 options in the previous stage, you might create 20 prototypes during development.

After prototypes are developed, they go through validating and testing. At this fourth stage, customers might test a potential menu item in select stores.

» RELATED: Here are Chick-fil-A's 10 most-sold items (No. 1 isn't chicken) 

“Essentially, we try to think about different geographical areas, different concept types, different sales volumes — because we really want to get a feel for ... does it sell well in New York? Does it sell well in Atlanta? How about out in LA?” Norris told the site.

For example, the restaurant recently experimented with its Spicy Chick-n-Strips by initially rolling out the item in Philadelphia and Texas, and later in Phoenix.

"We only see it growing — just looking at just what we sell in our spicy sandwich," Norris said earlier this month. "So, I think you're going to see Chick-fil-A do more with spicy."

And finally, we’re at the launch stage. But according to Norris, the rollout process doesn’t just immediately follow testing. Sometimes there are tweaks to be made. After all, “something sort of has to earn its place on the menu,” she said.

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