When it comes to corporate secrets, those unflattering angles a brand prefers to keep hidden, there’s no other company that seems to have as much to hide as America’s largest sandwich chain.
One thing that isn’t a secret? Subway’s public image is crumbling before our eyes. The past year has seen one controversy after another aired publicly by channel insiders. The Subway revelations appear to show fundamental problems with the way the brand operates — something its management doesn’t seem interested in addressing in any real way.
Subway has had many reputational issues in the past. From Jared Fogle to his iconic one-foot sandwich measuring just 11 inches, the chain has faced serious backlash from the public (and more than its fair share of lawsuits). to the supposedly below-average product it sells to millions of customers.
Here are some of Subway’s biggest secrets.
For more information on fast food, check out 8 Worst Fast Food Burgers to Avoid Right Now.
Subway’s exploitative treatment of its own operators has been a frequent allegation against the chain. Many Subway restaurant owners have publicly denounced the chain for ignoring their operational issues and providing little support for their struggles.
According to them, attempts to communicate with the chain’s CEO, John Chidsey, are completely unreciprocated, while the company forces them to enter into draconian franchise agreements, to make menu decisions that waste money and to impose unfair fees and monetary penalties when their margins are already thin.
Unlike many other large fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King, the majority of Subway locations are not run by restaurant groups or investment companies, but by small entrepreneurs who often make it a family business. . But Subway management reportedly used oppressive and corrupt tactics in the way of growth, bankrupting many of these vulnerable operators along the way.
A recent lawsuit filed against the chain described the systemic exploitation of franchise owners, many of whom are immigrants and recruited without basic math and English skills. They are then easy prey for Subway’s Business Development Agents (BDAs), regional managers who have the capacity to close a restaurant for the slightest infraction and, being restaurateurs themselves, possibly take it over.
According to a 2019 article by The New York Timesregional managers have been known to deliberately target and shut down Subway restaurants with overly harsh inspections so they can assume ownership “at a pittance”.
Insiders said the chain began its downward spiral after founder Fred DeLuca passed away, which left Subway without its tight leadership for the first time since its inception. And while things were looking up for restaurateurs during DeLuca’s lifetime, he was portrayed as a controlling, overly frugal autocrat who had created the business so no one but himself could run it.
According to Business Internhe was also known for his feminizing tendencies, allegedly seducing the wives of his franchisees and even posing for a semi-nude calendar distributed to Subway employees.
Based on the number of restaurants it has, Subway has held the title of the world’s largest fast food empire for some time. But according to the most recent data, Starbucks and McDonald’s may soon have a larger global footprint than the sandwich chain.
Subway has closed restaurants en masse. In 2020, it reportedly closed more restaurants than any other chain in the company’s history (although the exact number of closures, which some say was over 2,000, is disputed by the chain.) last year, it lost hundreds of other pitches. , which further reduced the number of more than 40,000 stores.
And restaurants could continue to close in large numbers – according to an insider, many operators are looking to offload property for “very cheap”.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if an additional 25% of stores disappeared over the next three years because franchisees whose leases had just been renewed don’t look kindly on this business,” said one. them. West Coast franchisee with multiple locations.
Subway’s “Eat Fresh” tagline is alarming and misleading, insiders claim. Because the chain tightly controls supply, individual restaurants are not allowed to source fresher ingredients locally.
An insider revealed to Eat this last year that all “fresh” ingredients arrive at individual restaurants pre-cut, pre-processed, and loaded with preservatives (and that includes vegetables, too.) For example, by the time lettuce ends up on your Subway sandwich , it can be up to 22 days old.
“People don’t even know how many chemicals they’re consuming when they eat at Subway. It’s anything but fresh, healthy food,” our source said.
Subway’s tuna content may have been the biggest fast food story of 2021. It all started with a lawsuit that claimed the chain was defrauding customers by misrepresenting its tuna like real tuna when in reality it was is “a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna.” In fact, the claims went further, stating that a lab test “found the ingredients to be neither tuna nor fish.”
A subsequent investigation by The New York Times confirmed the claim that no matter how hard you try, you can’t find any trace of tuna in Subway’s tuna. However, the Subway deception was only one possible scenario. Another plausible explanation was that Subway’s tuna is simply too processed to reveal DNA in lab tests. According to an expert Eat this when asked about it, it’s likely that Subway is using cheap leftover fish from fish processing facilities, which may include multiple species of fish.
But then the story got even weirder: The latest iteration of that original lawsuit claimed that not only was tuna not tuna, but it contained protein from chicken, pork, and cattle.
Although the assessment of the chain’s bread by the Supreme Court of Ireland was purely for tax purposes, the decision still stands: Subway’s bread does not meet the legal definition of bread in that country because it is too high in sugar.
Subway’s Eat Fresh Refresh, also known as its biggest menu overhaul in the brand’s history, may have given the chain a major sales boost for a few months, but insiders characterized the ingredients and items “new and improved” menu items as having undergone only superficial changes. , cosmetic changes.
“Our turkey may be sliced thinner now,” a source told us, “but it’s the exact same turkey we used before.”
It seems Subway came up with the idea for the refresh as a major marketing move, then rushed to reverse engineer the changes that should have been at the heart of it.
To promote Eat Fresh Refresh, Subway pledged to give away one million free sandwiches. But according to an insider who spoke to us in July 2021, many of those sandwiches went unclaimed, demonstrating that even the promise of free food wasn’t enough to generate initial excitement around Subway’s new products.
Nor did it help that a New York Post the writer said the new sandwiches tasted “as vile as the old ones”.