Fast Food

Would you like fries (or onion rings or chicken tenders) with that?

Subway Fiery Footlongs: Hot Stuff?

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

Heat. It can be of the best ways to attract customers to a dish. Some respond to the lure of spice; some can't resist the implied challenge of a really hot sauce (how much can you take without reaching for the glass of water?). Subway recently began advertising its Fiery Footlongs, two subs "packed with heat"—which I thought merited a test.

Advertising campaigns often overstate the truth. Subway's "new" Fiery Footlongs menu only includes one new offering: the Jalapeño Turkey Melt. Its fiery sibling is the Buffalo Chicken sandwich, which has been on the menu before, and is returning for this promotion.

That Jalapeño Turkey melt? It's nothing more than a toasted turkey breast sub, with jalapeño peppers, chipotle mayo, and cheese (pictured here on Honey Oat bread). I have trouble calling that "new," since it's really just a name for an already existing sandwich with one particular topping. When I first bit into it, I could definitely feel the heat of the jalapeños, which dominated the flavor. It's not the hottest thing I've ever had, but it certainly adds lots of kick. The provolone melted nicely over the over the jalapenos and turkey breast, pulling into long strings with each bite. Despite having a lot of heat, however, I couldn't see how it was anything other than a toasted turkey sub piled high with jalapeños; I could barely taste the chipotle mayo. Spicy, sure, but not particularly interesting.

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The promotion's other offering was the Buffalo Chicken sandwich: Buffalo chicken pieces with ranch dressing, pictured here on flatbread. Subway bills itself as serving healthier and higher-quality food than normal fast food chains; however, it was more than a little unappetizing watching them dump a paper tray of microwaved chicken pieces onto the flatbread. When I bit into it, I found the chicken to be essentially tasteless; the Buffalo flavor didn't jump out at me, like it does on wings. It tasted muted and weak, hardly like a sauce at all. On top of that, the flatbread tasted a bit, well, flat, underseasoned, and the ranch was too mild; I would have preferred blue cheese.

Overall, the jalapeño melt was perfectly fine, but disappointing in that it was nothing more than a recombination of existing menu items. The buffalo chicken wrap is less of a recombination, but it's not particularly flavorful. They're certainly better than other fast-food reworkings I've seen (the Angus Snack Wrap, for one), but pretty unexciting, despite mountains of jalapeños. If you're stopping Subway and want something a little spicy, they offer an alternative to the classic Turkey, Italian, or Meatball Subs—but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one.

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