Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Noel Tries The New Foods: Subway's Toasted Chicken Parmesan

Subway still touts itself as the home of healthy eating, and the chain still runs ads featuring slimmed-down Jared comparing Subway's cold cut sandwiches to deep-fried fast food; but business is business, and slowly, subtly, Subway has been fattening up to compete with the mega-sizers at Burger King and Carl's Jr./Hardee's. First they introduced "specialty breads" with cheese baked in, and then–despite Jared's smug pride that Subway's chicken is grilled–the restaurant added fried chicken. Now, to go along with their recent Quizno's-baiting addition of toasted sandwiches to the menu, Subway has introduced a line of Italian subs that are served on hot buttered garlic bread. That's a Subway diet I can get behind!

Frankly I've never been much of a Subway fan, which is a shame, since there's a Subway almost literally in my backyard. (By which I mean that if I were to walk through my backyard and phase Kitty Pryde-style through the un-gated wooden fence that protects my subdivision from the strip mall behind us, I would be on the outdoor patio of our neighborhood Subway.) The main problem I have with Subway is that, oddly enough, they put too much choice in the hands of the consumer. If I order a Whopper at BK, they're going to make me a Whopper the way they think it should be, unless I tell them to change it. Even if I got to Quizno's and ask for a Sierra Smoked Turkey, they'll presume I want it on Ciabatta bread with everything on it that's supposed to be on it (though they'll at least confirm it with me before I get started).

But I if I go to Subway and ask for a six-inch Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, the "sandwich artist" behind the counter expects me to tell him how to make it. What kind of bread do I want? Hot or cold? What toppings? What sauce? There's always a sense of crushing disappointment when I walk into a Subway to order the new delicious-looking sandwich they've been promoting, only to find that the Blackened Cajun Steak isn't quite so appetizing in my makeshift, guess-the-ingredients version. (That's not even including the disappointment when the Subway folks reach below the counter to pull out a little paper container of "steak," which they promptly nuke in the microwave until it's tough and flavorless.)

So, all of that said, how was the Toasted Chicken Parmesan? Well, aside from the fact that I had to expressly remind them to put the garlic spread on the bread–which was then covered in sauce, chicken and cheese before being put in the toaster, thereby negating the toasted garlic bread effect–it tasted pretty good. It had kind of a rubbery smell, and the chicken tenders were cold in the middle, but it featured that synthetic tomato-sauce-and-cheese flavor that I associate with TV dinners and school cafeterias. And since I grew up a latch-key kid, that's the taste of home to me.

Sad, really.