ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Subway Footlong Ripoff!

Updated on February 9, 2018
drpennypincher profile image

Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

Subway offers Footlong Subs
Subway offers Footlong Subs | Source

Reports including this one from the Washington Post indicate that the Subway footlong sub is not really one foot long. Some pictures on the Internet show subs about 11 inches long. My initial reaction was: “no big deal”. It’s about a foot long. You can see how long it is while they are making it, so it’s not really deceptive. But after further thought, I realized that this may be one of the biggest consumer scandals ever.

Economic Injury

Millions of the subs have been sold as “footlong subs”. There have even been major ad campaigns describing “five dollar footlongs” featuring people holding their hands apart to indicate the size of the sub. If the footlong sub is 1.2 inches short of a foot, this is 10% of the total size of the sandwich. People are not just shorted on the length of the bread, but on all of the toppings as well. If a 12 inch sub value is $5, a 10.8 inch sub value is only $4.50. The economic effect of passing off millions of shorter subs as footlong is enormous.

This not only effects the footlong subs, but the 6 inch subs as well, which are ½ the length of a footlong.

These Subs are Sold by Weight Rather than Length
These Subs are Sold by Weight Rather than Length | Source
Do Subway footlongs measure up?
Do Subway footlongs measure up? | Source

Consumer Fraud?

What do you expect from a five dollar footlong? There are only two things you can expect based on the name: that it costs $5 and is 1 foot long. It does not claim to have a certain amount of meat. It does not even claim to taste good or to be healthy. It only claims to be a foot long.

Since there is no constraint on how thick it must be, Subway could simply have made the bun a little thinner and longer. Since there is no constraint on the amount of meat or toppings, Subway could have simply spread things out a little bit. It would have been simple for Subway to deliver on the promise of a foot long sub. But they did not.

When the advertising team came up with the “five dollar footlong” campaign, did anyone at Subway bother to measure a sub. Did they know the footlong subs were not really a foot long? I’m sure they did. A company that sells millions of a product watches ingredient cost and portion size very carefully. Surely one of Subway’s lawyers actually measured a few subs to check the actual length. I think they knew that the length of subs varies, and that it is often less than a foot.

How long is a footlong sub?
How long is a footlong sub? | Source

It's Like a Quarter Pounder... But Without the Fine Print

I am having trouble thinking of other products that specify a quantity in the name of the product. The most similar comparison that comes to mind is the Quarter Pounder from McDonalds. A Quarter Pounder has an asterisk with fine print that explains that the pre-cooked weight of the beef patty is one quarter pound, or 4 oz. The hamburger you purchase has less than a quarter pound of beef due to loss of water and fat during cooking. But McDonalds is careful to offer the fine print to explain this. Subway made no attempt to explain that a footlong sub is not really one foot long…

It could be worse- Subway could claim to have "low calorie footlong subs". Of course they are low calorie only because they are shorter than they should be!

Does it bother you that a "Footlong" sub is only 11 inches long?

See results

Penny Pinching Tips:

  • Subway 5 dollar footlong subs are a great deal, even if a footlong is slightly less than a foot long. You can add all kinds of expensive veggies for free including spinach, cucumbers, and hot peppers.
  • Subway claims that "footlong" is simply the name of the product and not really an indication of the length of the sub. This is confusing at best.
  • Subway should either 1) add an asterisk and fine print that states that the length of a footlong sub may be less than one foot long or 2) ensure that footlong subs are at least 1 foot in length.

© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)