When is a footlong not a foot long?

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 05:58 AM

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 $6.30. That’s fraud Hardees, pure fraud.

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 plain wrong.

And what recourse does the consumer have if it turns out that the Dirty Rice side dish sold by the Bojangles’ chain is actually clean?

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 publicly 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 short.

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 publicly 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: http://getnickt.blogspot.com