Revolution and the Subway Sandwich.


So a few days ago I learned via sniggering at various blossoming facebook status arguments that some Subway restaurants outlets in the UK are removing all ham products from their menus. All kinds of boring and predictable responses to this have ensued but the most common seem to be Boo! Muslims go home!! Boo! Racists go home!! And Boo! Stop reading the Daily Mail!!!

I have no such response to offer and would very much like to celebrate this arguably revolutionary happening in the word of mass produced convenience food, and I’m going to tell you why: They listened. Subway got a significant amount of feedback from their customer base suggesting that they weren’t going to be buying any pig produce, and that they would rather it wasn’t there at all for reasons of religious compliance. So, in the relevant geographical areas where this opinion was prevalent amongst the average subway buyer- they are taking out the pork. Clearly this is headline news.

International Company Makes Commercial Decision Based on Customer Preference.

 This is not the stuff of revolutions my friends. This is not the first step into the UK becoming a sharia state and actually yes, this is a welcome move from a substantial player in the food market. THEY LISTENED, dear foodie friend, and they acted to appease their customer by radically changing, in this case removing, one of their products.

No, no I’m not naive enough to think that this is a quick decision that they made based on wanting to be nice to a couple of people. I don’t believe that Subway are so cuddly that they wanted to appease a handful of moaners in a selfless act of hammy restraint. No. This isn’t about religion or race relations, it’s not even about customer service or a responsible acceptance of public opinion. This is about money. Subway don’t give a shit about your religion, or anyone else’s. No big company or evil corporation does. Subway give a shit about where you spend your lunch money. Or your breakfast money. Or indeed your past midnight half drunk ooooh I want a sandwich money. Enough people said they were going to stop spending their money at Subway, and I imagine that quite a few of them did, so Subway had to listen. They probably lost even more money employing someone to make pie charts and study demographics and bang out a lovely shiny report to confirm that the best thing for Subway’s money would be to give the people what they wanted. Yes, yes I’m sorry if you live in an affected Subway region and miss your BLT (and wont accept a turkey bacon substitute) but this, my friend, is because you are a local minority. That sucks, but historically speaking it’s not the worst a minority has ever had to suffer. Learn to make your own BLT, your life will be richer for it.

Now I don’t want to talk about Subway and BLTs any more. I’d like to talk about standing up and hitting the food giants in this country where it hurts about the issues that matter to you. And more importantly, the issues that matter to me! Because this little storm in teacup has shown that you do have a voice and that enough fuss makers can achieve (debatably) newsworthy policy changes.

How often do you pick up euro apples in Tesco and think oh, well it’s all there is. How often do you get home with your leg of lamb from Marks & Spencer in Crawley and not have anything to say about the fact that you have just given your money to farmers on the other side of the planet whilst ignoring your own neighbours and given a big thumbs up to global warming from excessive and unnecessary use of transport? This is doing much more to diminish the greatness of Britain than a hallal meatball sub ever will.
Here is usually where I would tell you to refuse those apples and go and see your local butcher for nice lump of something Welsh, and you should still do that but I would like you to do something else too. Tell Marks and Spencer about it when you do. And tell all your mates, nay, bore them all to death with it with blogs and facebook spam and tweets and KIKs and even archaic old conversation! You don’t have to commit verbal violence to everyone you see tucking into a Pink Lady apple, but you could have a quick friendly word about it. Return the favour to that acquaintance who always rants at you about organic cosmetic products or sweatshops or the plight of the public breastfeeder. They might take a bit in and pass it on in their cloth nappy coffee morning group. Where someone else might tell their husband who works as a buyer for Sainsburys or One Stop or any other corporate evil who just might be panicked enough about you taking your money somewhere else to take a look at how appeasing an angry shopper might help the corporate evil as a whole. Everyone could win.

Nature tells us there is never just ‘one’ of anything. So if you hate Tesco for selling Slovenian apples then stop buying them and shout from the rooftops about it because you are not the only one. If you think that maybe enough UK taxpayers shop at Marks and Spencer for them to consider stocking UK farmed meat in every available shelf slot then tell them. Enquire politely at Zizzi where the pork in that rissoto special was farmed.  Loudly and repeatedly if needs be, you probably wont be the first. Keep a note, make a fuss and SPEND YOUR MONEY SOMEWHERE ELSE. Because they are all at it, and they will continue to be so until you take your wallet elsewhere.

Cynics are saying ah but do they really give a crap if I take my three quid to to butchers instead of the generic supermarket check out queue? Yes they do. Because you might find a nicer product, you might strike up a memorable chat with the man behind the counter and you might notice that actually their sausages are quite reasonable and their eggs look much bigger than the usual medium half dozen you pick up in the bakery aisle. That’s eight quid you’ve spent somewhere else already. And they do care about your eight quid. They want it, and they might change in order to get it. After all, every little helps.

For the original article of discussion, click here. I take no responsibility for the fact that you will be reading the Daily Mail.


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