The people running Subway might be the greatest salesmen in the world. They’ve positioned their sandwiches as health foods solely on the strength of one erstwhile fat guy’s crazy diet, and the five-dollar footlong campaigns have been so successful that they could actually ruin both the fast food and porn industries in one fell swoop. Subway’s marketing department has even had success in generating great publicity in fictional worlds, as seen by their support of Happy Gilmore’s epic quest to save his grandmother’s house and hook up with the hot blonde mom from Modern Family. At this point it almost feels ridiculous to doubt Subway’s ability to sell any and all of its products; you’re better off trying to dispute people’s enthusiasm for the new Harry Potter movie, hipsters’ willingness to wear sweaters in the summer, or my ability to use three sloppy analogies in a row.
And yet, I had doubts that a BBQ pulled pork sandwich could work at Subway. A pulled pork sandwich seems fundamentally different from all of Subway’s previous limited edition releases. Making a good pulled pork sandwich feels like it would require significantly more expertise than most other sandwiches. Also, judging by the number of hours dedicated to barbecue on the Food Network, people have a love for pulled pork that just doesn’t exist for, say, cold cut combos, so it would be extra disappointing if Subway did a poor job with a foodie-favorite. Finally, the sandwich costs $8.00, and at that price point you might as well spend the extra $2 and order two footlongs, which gets you double the porn jokes AND all your sodium for the week!
The process of actually ordering the sandwich did little to allay my doubts. The pulled pork was held in the same type of container as the tuna, which meant it was scooped out ice cream-style. I had assumed the pork would be held in the microwaveable cardboard trays; instead, the only heating the meat got was from the toasting of the overall sandwich. I watched in quiet anticipation of the barbecue sauce being added, but the woman behind the counter took my silence to mean I was satisfied with the current contents of my sandwich, and she began to wrap it up before I realized I had to specifically ask for the barbecue sauce. I suppose the Sandwich Artists can occasionally put together a masterpiece, but the output of this particular experience felt more like a poorly-followed color-by-numbers worksheet.
By the time I sat down to actually eat, expectations were remarkably low. The pulled pork sandwich beat those expectations, though not by much. The pork was fairly flavorful, if a bit too salty, but the paste-like texture was rather unpleasant. I think the meat really could have benefited from a brief blast in the microwave, which possibly would have melted some fat and added some juiciness. The barbecue sauce was solid, with a nice smokiness and not too much sweetness, but because it was added last and not mixed in with the pulled pork, I was always acutely aware that I was eating “pulled pork with BBQ sauce on top” and not “BBQ pulled pork.”
Would I buy Subway’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich again? Probably not. Then again, I wouldn’t count out the Subway marketing team just yet. There could be some new jingle or a movie promotional tie-in that convinces me otherwise. Who knows, maybe they could even help make Adam Sandler movies funny again (but don’t hold your breath on that one).
(Nutrition Facts – 1 footlong – 570 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1340 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 56 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C, 30% calcium, and 25% iron.)
Item: Subway BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
Purchased at: Subway
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Pulled pork was flavorful. Barbecue sauce was smoky and not too sweet. Subway’s marketing department. Old Adam Sandler movies.
Cons: Pulled pork was paste-like. Pork wasn’t heated up at all. Barbecue sauce wasn’t mixed in with the meat. Sandwich Artistry. The potential ruination of the porn industry. New Adam Sandler movies.