The Long & Short of It

Is Your Sub Sandwich, Sub Par?

Have you ever purchased one of those GIANT PARTY SUBS?  Well it seems as though the Investigators at KNXV-TV the Phoenix ABC Affiliate decided to purchase some 3-Foot Subs at three local Sub Shops (all franchises) and three local supermarkets and they were -- short-subbed!

Over a 2-day period of time they purchased nine three foot long subs: 3 at Subway; 2 at Blimpie; and 1 at Albertsons, Bashas, Safeway and Cousins.  They then took the subs to the the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures not for a party, but to have Kelly Larson (Arizona's Official Metrologist) use her trusted and carefully calibrated tape measure (serial No. 14696) to measure each one.  According to Dennis Ehrhard, Dept. of Weights and Measures assistant director, stated that a 36" sub would need to be at least 34.92" long to be within the acceptable range.  Larson measured the sandwiches from each location and found the following:

So the sandwiches from both Cousins and Safeway were longer than ordered, Bashas was short but within the guidelines.  Those from Albertsons, Blimpie and Subway were all short - with Subway being the worst offender.

The last Sandwich measured from Subway was 4" short or a one serving.  You certainly would not be able to count on your 36" sub to feed all nine people at your party.  "If that sandwich was to cost you $20, that's 2 bucks of sandwich you didn't get," Erhard calculates.  Erhard's office warned Subway for shorting a customer.  The ABC15 Investigators asked each of the companies where subs were purchased for a statement.  (statements can be read here)

Statement from Subway:

"Thank you for your inquiry. At Subway restaurants, quality and customer satisfaction are our main priorities. Whether feeding the team, feeding the crew or feeding the family, Subway Giant Subs have become synonymous with big game festivities, special occasions, meetings and parties.

Although our Customer Care department has not received any similar complaints, we were disturbed to learn of the findings of KNVX's [sic] investigation and feel that this is a genuine concern. While the bread has to be stretched by hand to the proper length prior to being placed in the oven, the amount of ingredients in the Giant Sub remains consistent. With that in mind, we are currently in the process of reevaluating our advertising, promotional, training and packaging materials with regard to the specific or implied length of Giant Subs and are taking steps to advise our franchisees to only discuss with customers the approximate number of expected servings and not a specific length of measurement."

Les WinogradPublic Relations CoordinatorSubway Restaurants

Take note that in the letter it is insinuated that the error could be the result of 'hand stretching' the bread.   With the help of Larson the ABC15 Investigators took one more measurement - that of the Subway box itself.  It measured 2' - 10-3/4".  A Subway 3' foot box can't even hold a 3' foot sub.


There are many products that start out compliant with everything and that, as a result of processing or handling, change dimensions.

Cereal boxes have a lot of slack fill by the time you buy them because the product settled in shipment and handling. Hamburger and steak are usually described as weight taken before cooking, as weight changes by being cooked.

Whether by hand stretching or not, bread will change dimensions in the baking process. The box size merely accomodates the known shrink characteristic of the bread.

There are things in life where an inch or two can be mission critical. How long the three foot sub might be just aint one of 'em.

The bozo who decided this was a trouble making opportunity ought to go get a job with Mikey Moore. 


an inch here and there

Richard -

My grandfather taught me and I've come to both understand and believe that "if money will fix it - it isn't really a problem".  Meaning that if you're car quits running that's isn't a problem.  If your heart quits running that is a problem.

Relative to many of the problems we face in our country, our world, or just in franchising - you are right the length of a 3'-0 sub isn't very important.  But in general I disagree and believe it is very important and here's why.

I disagree - and here's why.

I am against regulation which requires or prevents me from providing my customers with a 3'-long sandwich.  I support regulation that requires me to provide a 3'-long sandwich - if a promote or sell a 3'-long sandwhich.

You provided some "Points" - but are they valid? 

  • In the case of Cereal - it is sold by weight - not by  size or volume.  The box size, the settling, the extra air etc... are all considered to protect the content within the box.  The customer may pay slightly more per ounce of cereal because of the added cost assosiated with the larger box, higher shipping cost, and larger required shelf space - but they still received 'X' ounces for 'X' dollars just as advertised.
  • In the case of your hamburger and/or steak - McDonalds educated us all with an astrix and the words *Pre-cooked Weight.

Now for two reasons why it is important.

  1. The subs are sold by the length and 4" segments are protmoted as a  'heavy hor'dourves' portion.  So if a sandwich is 4" short that is a single serving short, and as communicated in the origianl article if the sandwhich cost $20 that's about $2.22 cents of shortage + the tax of approximately 8.25% or a total of $2.41, well over 10%.Now for a minute let's act as if this were a deliberate shrinkage over time as a method to increase profitability by gradually shrinking the size of the sandwhich an extra $2.22 in profit is now bilked out of each unsuspecting customer.  That is a problem in my opinion.
  2. Now let's play this out from a slightly different angle.  The ZEE invests in a business for the knowledge, guidance and expertise provided by the ZOR and for the value associated with the brand.  ZEEs follow ZORs lead and makes, promotes and sells 3'-long subs that actually measure 2'-8" in length.  Millions are sold.  Then one day someone measures the sandwich - and in our litigious society decides to sue the ZEE for False & Misleading Advertising, Deceptive Practices, Defective Product what have you - and wins.  It all get's lot's of negative publicity and brings down the ZEE who's invested in 25 shops of this brand.ZEE then sues ZOR.  After all ZEE was simply following the guidance, instructions, directions of the ZOR, using the marketing material provided by the ZOR, and the product supplied by the ZOR.  ZEE wins it's suit against ZOR.  All of which is not picked up National negative publicity and in a weakened financial position and declining sales the entire system crumbles - damaging 1,000's of ZEEs.

Do the above scenarios sound a little crazy and unlikely?  Yes, however ZEEs need the ZORs to not only minimize the probability of similiar scenarios but to also minimize the possibility.  It's far easier and wiser to say: *36 Inches Before Baking or to adjust the pre-baked product to a size which yeilds a 36" sub. 

Would you give UPS a Pass on their "Laser Measuring Devices" because as you say "There are many products that start out compliant with everything and that, as a result of processing or handling, change dimensions."  I don't think so, nor do I think you should.

When we say "oh that little thing doesn't matter" -- well a certainty is that many other BIGGER things will soon follow.

The three sub shops whose subs were measured are three good systems (not equally as good, but good) and I do not believe that they should be condemned for the 'short-sub'.  However, I do believe that all ZORs should deliver systems and procedures to their ZEEs which do not open up the door for the 6 O'Clock News Investigators to walk in and ask "WHY do you .......?

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!


The three pound porterhouse at Mortons, cooked to medium rare, loses about the wieght of a McDonalds quarter pounder (weight before cooking). When I am done with the steak at Morton's, and am sipping the last of the Cabernet, my thoughts do not wander to lamenting that quarter pounder that I missed out on, and if I were to find myself dining with someone who thought that was a significant issue, I would have my entire evening ruint.

Should you and I ever find ourselves in a social situation, I have decided that it will have to be at a saloon, cause booze don't shrink in the galss. 



On further consideration, I think I have to agree with you. The reason you changed my mind is that, put the way you explained it, few would believe that the "shrinkage" wasn't deliberate.

You are one smooth talkin sumbitch.

It kinda reminds me of the story of when we shipped all them condoms to Russia for their army. We only sent extra large and labelled 'em American Medium. 


Richard - No Worries

Hey - we'll have no worries at Morton's or at the Saloon.  I do live an Eat, Drink and be Merry (Ecclesiastes VIII 15) lifestyle.

The booze may not shrink from the glass, but I've noticed that there's definately a corelation between the time spent on BMM and the evaporative effet that it has on the bottles on the bar. (Translation, BMM may drive one to drink).

Here's to a long life and a merry one.A quick death and an easy one.A pretty girl and an honest one.A cold pint-- and another one!

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!

Grapes in Texas

Hey - Thanks, I think (LOL).

I vaguely remember the story on the condoms -- didn't the fine print say something about "American Medium/Texas Small"?

As I've mentioned I was raised Texan - and once Texan always Texan.  While living in TX, I had a friend from Calif. come to visit and we had a history of ribbing each other on TX/CA Pride type stuff.  We were at the supermarket in the produce section when he placed his hand on Watermelon and said "Hey Dale, did ya'll have these California Avocados shipped in or flown in" without missing a beat and in true Texas fashion I replied "Get your hand off that Texas Grape".

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!