How a group of internet vigilantes got Subway to change its sandwiches forever

Subway's $5 Footlong Only 11 Inches?
Subway's $5 Footlong Only 11 Inches?

Subway is making a major change to its sandwiches, all because of a photo that an Australian teen posted to the company's Facebook page years ago.

The photo was posted by Matt Corby. It showed a Subway footlong sub next to a tape measure that indicated the sandwich was only 11 inches long and the caption "Subway pls respond."

Within a matter of days the photo started going viral, with more than 130,000 likes and thousands of shares on Facebook.

People were outraged, feeling cheated out of an inch of their sandwiches and accusing Subway of false advertising.

How could a sandwich called a "footlong" be only 11 inches in length?

"If I'm paying for a footlong sub that they so annoyingly advertise, then I want a footlong sub," someone named Reggie Martinez wrote on Facebook at the time, according to the Huffington Post. "And to all others, yes it does matter."

Subway at first claimed the sandwich was an anomaly.

"We have seen the photo you referenced of a Subway sandwich that looks like it doesn't meet our standards," a spokesman for the company told the Huffington Post. "We always strive for our customers to have the most positive experience possible, and we believe this was an isolated case in which the bread preparation procedures were unfortunately not followed."

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A couple days later, Subway Australia responded on Facebook and said that the label "footlong" was not meant to be a measurement of length.

"With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong, "SUBWAY FOOTLONG" is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length," the company's post said.

The company's response failed to placate customers, and a couple weeks later, two New Jersey men filed lawsuits against Subway for false advertising.

"It's no different than if a wireless company is profiting on a 14-cent hidden fee," one of the plaintiff's lawyers, Stephen DeNittis, told Today at the time.

Several more lawsuits were filed in state and federal courts that were eventually combined into a class action lawsuit against Subway.

After two years of litigation, Subway has finally agreed to settle the case by making its sandwiches bigger.

As part of thesettlement agreement, Subway will start requiring franchisees to measure the bread they serve to ensure that footlong subs are 12 inches and 6-inch subs are no less than 6 inches.

Subway will also start compliance inspections to make sure restaurants are adhering to the new rules, according to the agreement.

The restaurant chain will edit its training materials and franchisee protocols, "which had previously allowed for a small tolerance in the size of a footlong sandwich," to require that a footlong must be at least 12 inches.

A hearing for final approval of the settlement is scheduled for January, according to Subway.

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Originally published