The answer, apparently, is when it's a Subway sandwich. It seems
these tasty, elongated snacks haven't been measuring up to vigilant
customers' expectations lately.
Armed with their trusty yardsticks, pernickety patrons around
the country have resolutely sunk the Sub's promotional promise of
being one foot long (or exactly 12 inches for the dimensionally
challenged.) Many of the $5 Subway sandwiches have been "weighing
in" at a stunted 11 inches.
Turning to social media, some disgruntled customers have been
content to merely voice their outrage, while others hope to extract
compensation through litigation. A class-action lawsuit against
Subway seeks fast-food justice for the receding rolls.
For me, however, the incident poses more evocative questions
about the advertising claims of other fast food favorites.
For instance, does this mean for the past three decades Ronald
McDonald has been peddling a Quarter Pounder that doesn't contain
exactly 0.25 lbs of hamburger meat?
And should we now have doubts about the Kentucky Fried Chicken
franchise? Perhaps Colonel Sanders' Original Recipe of 11 herbs and
spices has been covertly trimmed to a meager ten. In fact, I've
long been suspicious of KFC advertising ever since I learned that
founder Harland Sanders wasn't even a real military colonel. (It
was an honorary title given by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.)
Don't think Hardees can escape unscathed from this shameless
parade of consumer swindle, either. Their Memphis BBQ Six Dollar
Thickburger actually costs (depending on the state taxes) around
Better lawyer-up if you plan to visit an In-N-Out Burger, and
have a hankering for their Double-Double cheeseburgers.
Because here, two times two does not equal four meat patties.
One "double" refers to the meat, while the other "double" refers to
the cheese slices. That's just confusing!
And what recourse does the consumer have if it turns out that
the Dirty Rice side dish sold by the Bojangles' chain is actually
Along these lines, here's a shocking revelation about the
Denny's breakfast menu: their Senior Omelette doesn't contain any
real seniors at all!
Will the culinary cops ever investigate these apparent breaches
of fast food marketing?
While we're at it, can we send the irony police to raid Dunkin'
Donuts for having a nutrition section on their web site?
And perhaps SWAT teams should probe a potential hazard at Burger
King - specifically, the Whopper Jr. Sandwich Meal.
Theoretically, the opposing terms "Whopper" and "Jr" could
function dangerously like matter combining with antimatter,
generating primal culinary forces that could cancel each other out
violently, and detonate during digestion.
But returning to the mischief afoot at Subway.
The company has now publically addressed the Footlong fraud and
expressed regret for "any instance where we did not fully deliver
on our promise to our customers."
Despite their contrite tone, Subway's corporate penitence hasn't
quelled the wrath of customers accusing the company of selling them
In fact, when my last sandwich turned out to be a runt, I first
considered tossing my Sub into the street in front of the store and
publically protesting by smashing it with a two-by-four (which, by
the way, are actually1½ by 3½ by inches - watch out Lowes, I'm
looking for a lumber lawyer).
Fortunately, a cooler head prevailed. I resolved the shriveled
sandwich issue without destroying a perfectly good lunch while
still expressing my displeasure to Subway. Anticipating my $5
Footlong would only be 11 inches, I simply handed the salesperson
$4, and left.
Thomas' features and columns have appeared in more than 270
magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, LA Times,
Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and
Christian Science Monitor. He can be reached at his blog: