Subway: That Devious Fast-Food Tart

Let’s play a word association game, shall we?

Fast food.

Did you just think of McDonald’s? If so, you’re probably not alone. Who hasn’t seen the familiar Golden Arches? Their marketing influence is one of the best. Odds are that you could close your eyes and still see one or two commercials in your mind’s eye. You’ve chomped on a Big Mac and fries. You’ve bought a Happy Meal or two for your kids. That makes you a typical American (unless, of course, you’re a vegetarian and we fast-food consumers don’t truck with your lot).

Now that you’re awash in nostalgia, here’s the proverbial splash of cold water in your face. McDonald’s isn’t as beloved as you think it is. What is this, you exclaim? What sort of foul treachery is this? Who has dared to supplant the Golden Arches in our collective bosom? Burger King or Wendy’s or In-N-Out or Carl Jr.’s, you ask?

Not at all.

Turns out it’s Subway. That’s right. Yes, that franchise chain that tarts up their subs with nary a hamburger or a fry, traditional foods so beloved by fast food restaurants. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the map and see if you can count the red dots. You can’t.

In fact, there are more Subways than you can shake your stick at. (This doesn’t apply if you’re in Nevada, say, but you can’t blame that state since everyone knows Nevadans gamble away their Subway subs.) The East and the Mid-West have bred their Subways like incestuous hillbillies in such numbers that the red dots overlap each other in a furious storm.

For whatever reason, this hasn’t been repeated in the West, except for certain clusters like the ones in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Colorado. And… amazingly enough in Utah. (Insert the obligatory borderline offensive Mormon jokes here.)

On this side note, we’d like to applaud Nevada for its ingenuity. The state keeps the gamblers firmly entrenched in the casinos. They’ve smartly ensured that the farthest point a person can be from the nearest Subway in the continental US is between the towns of Austin and Eureka. 138 miles to be exact.

Subway Locations in US

We have a number of plausible geographical reasons why Subway hasn’t invaded the West, but personally we’re going with our theory of McDonald’s playing the role of the aging gunslinger and Subway as the young, cocky gunslinger. Guns will ablaze and in the end goes the collective of the American fatties as spoils to the victor.

27 comments » Write a comment

  1. Did you not go to Subway’s page? There are over 2 dozen Subway’s just in Anchorage in Alaska. Just one in Alaska, HA!

  2. The reason there aren’t as many subways in the west is because it isn’t as densely populated as the east.

  3. The reason for the low concentration in the West is 100% due to population. If you overlay a population map it will be almost identical.

    Like this NASA map:

    Subway is taking off because a) it’s cheap and b) it’s healthier. It’s plausible that if McDonald’s is slowly killing off its customers (an opinion, due to unhealthy foods), the chain would decrease in popularity over time. XD

  4. "It is interesting how much more concentrated the East is than the West." Not really, it’s simply that the map shows how there are more people in the east than the west. Contrast this to a map showing population density in the US. Here is a link to one for you:

  5. Out west they have a place called Blimpie Sub Sandwiches that seems to have gotten their heels dug in before Subway expanded.

  6. The reason there are so many subways is because the start-up and operation costs are insanely low compared to other franchises. All they really need is a refrigerator and employees.

  7. The real reason for the quick expansion:

    Low investment costs for franchisee = lower barriers to entry.

  8. Subway’s bread sucks, unless you want to cut up your mouth whilst eating. A "sub" is not a sub when they put mayo and mustard on the dang thing…..that’s just a sammich!

    . . .and then of course, ‘1-foot long sub’ being 10-inches doesn’t fool those West Coasters either.

  9. Actually I saw an interview with the CEO of Subway and the reason that there are so many of them is that they can open in places that McDonalds and other fast food chains cannot. Subway does not require a kitchen so they can fit into smaller spaces all they need is some refrigerators and a toaster.

  10. is that for real? Wow, I thought it’s McDonald have the biggest number of chain. Well, I love Subways food also McDonald, but not in daily basis, only if i am outside and hungry.

  11. yes becuase they really need to place a ton of subways in the desert. where noone lives. idiots.

  12. SUBWAYS outnumber McDonald’s by almost 10,000 Restaurants in the US and Canada. By spring 2010, SUBWAY will surpass the golden arches worldwide too. 31,800 Restaurants worldwide and counting!

  13. Amazingly Utah? I don’t get it. There are 3.5 million people there, and it is the fastest growing state. Why wouldn’t they have a lot of Subways? Also, why always the Mormon jokes? 60% of the state is not Mormon, and as far as numbers, there are more Mormons in California than any other state. Not very original.

  14. We have a number of plausible geographical reasons why Subway hasn’t invaded the West, but personally we’re going with our theory of McDonald’s playing the role of the aging gunslinger and Subway as the young,

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