Are Subway's Footlong Sandwiches Really Only 11 Inches?

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 18 2013 3:19 PM

Are Subway's Footlong Sandwiches Really Only 11 Inches?

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Fred DeLuca, president and founder of Subway, in Stockholm on March 10, 2011

Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.

The astute Brooke Jarvis alerted me to a fascinating piece about allegations that Subway's "Footlong" sandwiches are actually only 11 inches long.

If that were all there is to the story, I would say fair enough. The real problem with Subway is that their food isn't very good and their restaurants are a bit smelly. Eleven inches of those sandwiches is plenty. But the company's response to the allegations is to say that "the size of the bread can vary when it's not baked to the company's exact specifications." That makes a lot of sense as an explanation, but it's rather damning of the franchise. After all, the essence of managing a large chain restaurant—and Subway is the world's largest by number of outlets—is quality control and uniformity. You ought to be able to roll up to a Subway anywhere in the country and know that the brand stands for certain things. They're saying, essentially, that you can't.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.