People Apparently Love Footlong Foods

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People Apparently Love Footlong Foods

Subway’s $5 Footlong deal was, while it lasted, an iconic slice of fast food history. Yes, children, there used to be a time when you could get 12 inches of mediocre sub made right in front of you, the soggy lettuce and questionable-looking tuna salad glinting in the bright fluorescent lights of your local Subway.

Although the delight of the $5 Footlong is now long gone (you can still get a 12-inch sub—it’ll just cost you more), Subway hasn’t let up on its footlong offerings. Apparently, people really, really like eating foods that are 12 inches in length, even if they’re not really notable apart from their noticeable long-ness.

Enter Subway’s new footlong snacks. First, the brand released its “Sidekicks” menu, three different snack-y offerings released in January of this year. The lineup includes footlong cookies, churros and pretzels, which proved to be quite popular. Just two weeks after the restaurant chain released its new snack line, it reported it had already sold 3.5 million of the products. Apparently, the footlong cookie was an especially big hit among customers.

Now, the chain is continuing with its mission to offer eaters what they want, which is apparently long foods. Subway announced its new line of “Dippers,” which are cheese- and meat-filled footlong snacks that—you guessed it—are made to be dipped into savory sauces for a not-quite-a-meal-but-more-substantial-than-a-snack experience. The three varieties of Dippers are made with pepperoni and cheese, chicken and cheese and “double cheese” for variety, and they can be enjoyed with any one of Subway’s signature sauces.

Admittedly, I have yet to try the brand’s Dippers, although I have indulged in their Sidekicks offerings during a particularly low moment in my life. Were they particularly interesting from a culinary standpoint? No. (The pretzel was definitely solid, though.) But I will admit that there’s something inexplicably appealing about long foods, especially when those foods usually tend to be presented in a much shorter package. I like the idea of a long sandwich or cookie or pretzel if the goal is to share it with others, to create a more communal eating experience. That being said, I’m not sure that’s really the point in the case of Subway’s footlong products—it seems like it’s just a more aesthetically interesting way to binge eat.

These snack-y offerings from Subway largely just seem like a ploy at making fast food more affordable in an age of increasingly expensive restaurant meals. With rising food costs hitting some consumers—particularly lower-income consumers, who tend to frequent fast food restaurants—especially hard, it makes sense that chains like Subway would start offering simpler, cheaper options to hungry consumers who don’t want to pay the price of an entire meal.

All that being said, it’s probably easier to buy some pepperoni and cheese at the store and wrap it up in some sort of bread product yourself (and it’ll likely save you some money in the process). But listen, I get it. If you want to eat a whole foot of something, it may be worth the trip to your local Subway. And when you’re trying to snack for cheap, there are certainly worse fast food options to choose from. Sure, these dishes may not be the best thing you’ll ever eat. But food in footlong form? I guess it stands the test of time.

Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.

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