It could be argued that what McDonald’s did for the hamburger, Subway did for the submarine sandwich. Granted, various forms of the sandwich existed for decades before the chain opened its first store in Connecticut in 1965, but Subway took the concept -- simple sandwiches customized to patrons’ tastes -- and brought it to the international market, opening over 40,000 stores in the past 53 years. Along the way, the chain redefined fast-food marketing by proclaiming its “healthfulness,” embedded itself within the American pop cultural zeitgeist, and became the default meal for catered lunch meetings everywhere. It is for better or worse an American fast-food institution.
Befitting its iconography, we decided to figure out which of its mainstay 15 sandwiches are truly greatest. While we realize that Subway encourages customers to personalize most of their sandwiches, we’ve defaulted to using lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, mustard, and mayo for any sandwich that doesn’t come with a pre-determined suite of toppings, as well as 9-Grain Wheat as our bread of choice. Also, we graded all “cold” subs without toasting them because let’s be real: cold-cuts should never be hot.
From there, we utilized the following criteria to rank each sub:
1. Main Ingredient Visibility -- You eat a sub for the meat. You don't eat the sandwich for all of the other toppings.
2. Ingredient Interplay -- Does every other aspect of the sandwich provide the crucial, background assist to allow the entire package to taste like a game-changing menu item?
3. Messiness -- Simply put, can you eat this sandwich at, say, lunch and not worry that you'll have something splashed across your shirt once you return for your 2 p.m. meeting?
4. Can You Make It Healthy? -- This criteria will honestly look at whether or not you can make a sandwich healthy without sacrificing its taste or spirit.
And now, without further ado, let’s rank some subs.