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Subway Hates Us

The chain's new Auntie Anne's pretzel is representative of larger issues plaguing American society
Subway's new Auntie Anne's footlong pretzel bread along with their footlong cookie, Cannabon Footlong Churro
Courtesy of Subway

Call me a size queen but as San Diego Magazine‘s official pretzel correspondent I was drooling when I saw Subway advertising foot-long Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels as part of a new campaign of ruler-sized snacks. Soft pretzels are why the gods gifted us tongues—to share with us the divine glory of the pillowy bread knot. Soft pretzels are without question the best bread.

So, Subway and Aunti A’s collabing on a full 12 inches? Yeah, I’m tipping my head back and taking the whole thing. Sucking the salt off and eating it like a duck. Generally, I think Subway is gross and smells funny. But it’s a pretzel! Who cares if it comes from the sickly-sweet scented armpit of the corporate food industry? It will be cheap, and it’s gotta be decent, right?

Wrong. Violently wrong.

This is no pretzel. This is an STD. Subway’s foot-long middle finger to us all. I didn’t get past the first bite. I’d rather eat a paper towel tube.

Bread this bad can only mean one thing: Subway hates America.

Subway's new Auntie Anne's footlong pretzel bread promo outside of a Subway restaurant in San Diego

Imagine me, blissfully strolling across a strip mall parking lot, spinning my keys, maybe humming a little love song, excited to spend $3 for what I figured might prove to be something of a fast food guilty pleasure. Not something to eat everyday, but a treat for when life’s lights go dull. So I broke a five, collected my pretzel-filled paper sleeve, plastic cup of honey mustard, and headed to my truck.

What came next was a silent fart in my mouth from the asses of corporate America. Lord, The face I made. This is the Malört of bread.

This pretzel is a mouth sore, an atrocity. The outside is dry and the inside is…also dry? Chewy in an unappealing way, it is utterly flavorless. A full disappointment. Stale white bread with a dry crunchy shell.

I can’t believe more Subways aren’t on fire. Philly, where you at? I thought you guys loved pretzels.

Subway's new Auntie Anne's footlong pretzel bread next to a tape measure indicating it is not 12 inches long

Serving this in actual restaurants feels like an assault on the US from a foreign enemy. Deplete their bread reserves, break their spirits. But Subway is not a foreign power. They’re the second largest fast food chain in the country and a $16 billion revenue stream for private equity parent company, Roark Capital Group. Roark owns dozens of brands like Arby’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Cheesecake Factory, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, the list goes on. With all that airport food they’re selling, Roark generates some $77 billion in annual revenue. They’re also notorious wage thieves and enemies of the $15 federal minimum wage.

So, let me tell you in case you’re slow on the uptick: everything is rotten in the stratospheres of American power. Execs at these corporate monoliths haven’t just turned their backs on the American people: they spit in our faces, steal our wallets and laugh, clearly aware they are too big to face consequences.

Who do we even complain to? These people run the world. What are you going to do? Buy the ingredients? Make your own pretzels? You work two jobs and pay 60 percent of your take home pay in rent. Your check engine light is coming on any day now. Meanwhile companies like Roark and Subway make billions and spend their R&D budgets on figuring out how to do less for Americans who are out here fighting for their lives.

No wonder the world is getting so damn expensive.

Did you know you need to earn 80 percent more today than in 2020 to purchase a house? And food costs have increased 25 percent in recent years. That raise you’re hoping for? It means almost nothing compared to what things cost out there.

Subway's new Auntie Anne's footlong pretzel bread
Courtesy of Subway

Have you heard of ‘shrinkflation?’ Companies are charging you more while giving you less. Even fruits and vegetables have gotten less nutritious. In San Diego—where we pay the most expensive energy bills in the country—you can make six-figures and still be lower-middle class. The US is one big Ponzi scheme. Life here smells more sour by the day. We’re getting screwed, and these pretzels are proof.

Life is objectively getting harder. The middle class is gone. Most Americans don’t have a $500 emergency fund. We’re one toothache away from living in a tent. More people than ever need $3 food, and we’re being fed stylized co-branded trash. Subway has more money than god and the devil combined, they could easily offer something palatable, something that makes life a little worth living, if they chose.

But corporate America does not see itself as part of the fabric of our people. Roark and the like act as an occupying force, and the bean counting sociopaths they employ have no interest in our shared existences, our shared joys, our shared future. They’d steal your baby’s first breath if they could. They want our very essences. Roark, Auntie Anne’s, Subway—these companies don’t make our food in kitchens, they make it on a spreadsheet. And they hate us, you can taste it.

Did you know Subway paid Patrick Mahomes, Charles Barkley, and Klay Thompson to advertise these 12-inch turds? Paid them, what? Tens of thousands? Just to convince us to buy this trash. These athletes owe us all an apology. Donate your dirty money to food kitchens, you sellouts.

Jesus, my jaw is sore. Do you know how miserably dead warm bread has to be to cause muscle fatigue? I’d rather spend $3 in a prison commissary.

This is what late stage capitalism tastes like. The empire is falling, and American corporations are switching the vacuum on high, sucking as much joy from our lives and money from our pockets as possible before it all comes crashing down. These poisonous, celebrity-endorsed marketing proposals are what they feed us as the world burns.

We could do so much better

I mean it. The bread we eat is important. In Arabic, the word for bread is the same as the word for life. Somehow, in America, we’ve been driven to the point that pretzel now means sadness. I’m no nihilist, but why is it that in America, believing that everyone deserves real, affordable food—or edible bread—is seen as glory-holing The Communist Manifesto? If this is really what our country has come to, revolution must be nigh. Break out the guillotines, I’ll meet you outside of Roark.

But first, I gotta go brush my teeth.

By Mateo Hoke

Mateo Hoke is San Diego Magazine’s executive editor. His books include Six by Ten: Stories from Solitary, and Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation.

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