Thought of the Day – 4/30/2013 – Eat Fresh, Smell Rotten

30 Apr

Allow me to do my Jerry Seinfeld impression*:

What is the deal with that smell at Subway restaurants?

*Pretty good, huh?

All Subway restaurants have that smell.  Every single one of them (and I’ll freely admit to eating at Subways all across America during my business travel days).  You know the smell I’m talking about…or at least I hope you do.  I can’t really describe the aroma (my nose is not connected to the part of my brain that conjures descriptive adjectives).  It’s not a horrible or nauseating smell, but it is always present.  It is distinctive, and you’ll never smell it anywhere other than a Subway.

I assume the odor is from their freshly baked bread, except that freshly baked bread doesn’t smell like that.  If it did, real estate agents would encourage people selling their homes to burn microwave popcorn to make their houses smell homey and inviting.  More appropriately, I’d guess the silicone trays they bake the bread in are a potential culprit.

Regardless, the stench is everywhere.  I ate at a Subway for lunch and all afternoon I was very conscious of the fact that I was omitting the Subway odor.  My apologies to the clients and co-workers I stood next to.  I tried to keep my distance.  Really, I did.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go home, shower, and change clothes.

And that was only after a quick meal.  I’m guessing most Subway Sandwich Artists* go home and douse themselves in gasoline to get rid of that smell.  I would not be at all surprised if the Subway smell contributes to some type of black lung disease like coal miners get.  Years from now, there will be a late night commercial about a class action lawsuit against Subway like those mesothelioma ads you see now.

*Sandwich Artists.  Pfft.  What a fluffed up, load of crap job title.  Painting is art.  Sculpting is art.  Photography is art.  Singing is art.  Cooking can be art.  Putting cold cuts and pickles on bread is not art.  Sanitation Engineers mock your trumped-up title.

Apparently, Subway knew better than to play up the artistry angle too much in their advertising, which is truly a shame.  I’d love to see a commercial profiling a Sandwich Artist, complete with dramatic lighting, cinematic direction, and the following narration by a Masterpiece Theater-type voiceover guy:

“He’s the Picasso of the pepperoni.  The Georgia O’Keefe of the roast beef.  A Dali of the deli meats.  He’s like Edvard Munch when he makes your lunch.  Come experience the fine art of sandwich making at your neighborhood Subway.”

My suggestion:  Subway restaurants should install a decontamination station by the door where folks can have the Subway funk removed.  Simply step inside a shower stall-like booth, put a dollar in the slot and select your desired fragrance (Fabreeze, Axe body spray, old lady perfume, or Lysol).  Car wash sprayers extending from the wall would mist you from head to toe, leaving you smelling fresh.


7 Responses to “Thought of the Day – 4/30/2013 – Eat Fresh, Smell Rotten”

  1. Anna April 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    OMG, I have so often thought this. How do they all have that same smell. One time I smelled it when I wasn’t near a Subway and I was shocked. What? Where else would smell like this. I look three stores down and sure enough there was a Subway. What is that?

    • Feit Can Write May 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

      Wow. Three stores away. There was either a really strong tail wind, or that one had the odor on high.

  2. amc1015 April 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    It is my understanding (with no sources to site, sorry) that that smell is consciously manufactured by Subway and pumped through vents or something. As it was explained to me, having a constant scent in the franchises helps the branding – you smell it and KNOW a Subway is near. I guess not everyone finds the scent as nauseating as we do?

    • Feit Can Write May 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

      That is fascinating. I studied advertising in college, but this is the first time I’ve heard of nasal branding.

      If that’s right, I wonder why they went with that particular smell, as true fresh baked bread (at least what my mom used to make) is a great smell, and I’d assume the delicious cookies Subway makes smell pretty good coming out of the oven.


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