Why Did Subway Change How They Cut Bread? Conspiracy?

As promised, this post is not about Scarlett Johansson.  Instead, I’m going to bitch about the fact that Subway doesn’t cut the bread for their sandwiches the way that they used to.  Yep, that’s right.  I’m going old man on this one.

Really, though.  Does anybody remember the old way Subway used to cut the bread?  It’s somewhere around ten to fifteen years since they switched, but it still bugs me.  If you remember, originally, Subway used to cut this v-shaped wedge in the top of the bread.  Then, all the fixings got dumped down inside.  There was still plenty of room for all the fixings, but the sandwich really held together well.  Stuff never squished out the sides.

Then, somewhere around ten to fifteen years ago, they switched how they cut the bread.  Instead of the v-shaped wedge cut into the top of the bread, they started just cutting the whole loaf in half.  Right down the lengthwise middle.  This is why all the insides of your Subway sandwiches now shoot out the sides anytime you take a bite.  Much, much more messy.  You’re welcome.

I hate this altered way of cutting the bread and I’ve hated it since they started doing it.  It’s my biggest peeve with them, even more than the fact they don’t stock any orange cheddar for no explicable reason.

When they first switched over, I asked one of the workers to cut my sandwich the old way.  It hadn’t been too long since the switch so I figured they still knew how to do that (I doubt anyone who works there does now, as I doubt Subway tenure generally lasts more than ten or fifteen years).  However, the worker informed me that management had specifically banned them from cutting the sandwiches in the old way.

What?  There was a Subway law against cutting the sandwiches the old way?  I could understand wanting uniformity…but a ban?  In the face of a customer request?  I figure it has to be a conspiracy.  Else, why the ban?  It isn’t like cutting the bread the old way was more dangerous or expensive.  Frankly, I can’t think of a real reason.  Hence the mystery and my fascination with such.

In any event, Subway: I’m still pissed about this.  I will still be pissed about this until the day you return to cutting sandwiches the old way.  That may mean that I am a petty, bitter little man…but at least I know how I like my sandwiches.

About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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42 Responses to Why Did Subway Change How They Cut Bread? Conspiracy?

  1. Francis says:

    Yes I remember the V-cut on the subway sandwich. Those were so much better, and less messy.

  2. Amanda says:

    Me too! Just finished a subway sub, and although I have even aware of the change for the last 200 or so subs I have eaten there, it still bugs me. Enough for me to google it just now. Oh how I long for the days of the u-cut.

  3. Madden527666 says:

    I thought (heard) it had something to do with all of the new varieties of bread they came out with. The “old” school method-cut didn’t work well with all the new varieties of breadt they were using for some reason…

    • It’s possible, but I’m not sure I trust that so much. The switch was done long before the new breads came out, quite a long time ago. Also, I just don’t see how the old cut wouldn’t work with most of the new breads. I’d have to see more on that before I bought it.

  4. brian says:

    i just ate a subway sub. whle eating it, i for reason got really annoyed that the last time i ate a sub with the v shape cute was almost 15 years ago. As a matter of fact, everytime I eat a sub from subway I always remember that cut. I used to love that cut and got so annoyed when they changed it. I have just emailed subway asking them to bring it back. after i did, i was wondering if anyone had the same thoughts as i did, so i googled subway old cut and came across this page. We should start a V-shape subway bread cut movement :), lol !!!

  5. Cheshire Cat says:

    I’m starting a hot dog truck business, and I’m all thinking about what kind of roll to use, split top or side cut, seeded or plain. Then it hit me. What happened to old Subway subs? I just went old man too. Way back. Boston sports teams were the butt of every joke and Clinton was getting literally blown out of office. 5 Dollar Footlongs were $2.99 on Tuesdays, sometimes TWO FOR $5 with a coupon, you got two stamps for your Sub Club card, and they dredged that uniquely-Subway V-cut in that sub. Yea, man… the 90′s were awesome.

    All I can say is the fat cats at corporate probably did it because it takes Joe Sandwich Artist twice the time to slice the bread. It also takes some finesse. You gotta cut that V out without slicing your hand, remove that Long Island strip in the middle without breaking it into pieces and then replace it nicely atop the sandwich contents, and then wrap it and bag it. That’s probably 7 extra seconds right there – and this is fast food.

    I never really thought it did anything to hold the sub together any sort of way. I just liked the way it was a Subway trademark. “The way a sandwich should be” if you will. And so it sucks that they did away with it.

  6. Mario says:

    I too just landed here after doing a search. I miss the old cut as well. I thought it made them unique. Now they’re just another sandwich shop. I haven’t eaten as many since realizing that wheat (bleached or not) turns into sugar and raises blood sugar even more than pure sugar. That fact spoiled sandwiches and pizzas for me although I still eat bread sometimes. But as far as the subway sandwiches, I would love to go back to 1995 and have one of those sandwiches. I remember the smell of the shop was different too. My first order was the cold cut trio with everything on it, on wheat (I thought it was healthier–but it really doesn’t matter). I’d chase it with a coke or a dr. pepper.

  7. Leeann says:

    I searched the Subway V cut after hearing about it a few years ago from a 78 yr old gentleman I worked with said he missed it. I had no idea what he was talking about (because I’m 24). I don’t like my sub insides squishing out of the side and falling out. It’s down right annoying. I’m interested to try eating a sub this way (V cut) and maybe I’ll have to try it out at home. The ONLY reason I can think of why this change came about is because of their ‘veggie patties’ they have. I was looking at them today as I ordered my turkey and black forest ham sub and realized they couldn’t possibly fit into a V cut hollowed out sub, so I wonder if it’s the vegetarian’s fault?

    • I don’t think so. I think the veggie pattie came after the cut changed.

      • Leeann says:

        Well I know personally the meatball sub would benefit from the V. Let us bring it back.. and if we request it from a worker, maybe we can coach them along… “I make it like this at home, just.. just cut a V/U into the bread so there is a boat for everything to go into. don’t wory, I won’t tell anyone”

    • Amanda says:

      I knew it! I knew those vegetarians were up to no good. Totally their fault.

  8. Shantelle says:

    I work at Subway in Nebraska and we cut our sandwiches in a v shaped wedge which us called the hinge cut. It does hold a lot and keeps the contents of the sandwich from falling apart. I don’t see why others subways would cut it any other ways. I guess to experience a great Subway sandwich you would have to come to Nebraska, the Good Life!

    • Really? I lived in Omaha until July of 08 and couldn’t get the v-cut. Where is yours?

      • Amanda says:

        Lol, I think he means when you look at the bread from one end, it’s the shape of a v. Calling it the “hinge cut” makes me think it’s the same cut they all use now. I could be wrong, though.

      • Hmm, you may be right, Amanda. I think the hinge cut is the current standard and not the v cut. In which case, Shantelle’s comment is substantially less helpful. See? Even if you can get someone to agree to do it…modern Subway employees might not even remember the old cut.

  9. Lon says:

    As a connoiseur of subs, I miss the “U-cut” (was supposed to be ushaped not V shaped), more importantly miss that the sandwich artists know how to do it. When they first started getting rid of the u-cut they introduced a “hinge” cut that was supposed to be one cut made diagonally so that the contents still tended to fall in toward the bread rather than out. They said it was becuase it was just as effective but quicker, and they’d cut whicher preference the customer wanted, but always seemed that if you didn’t specify they’d automatically do the hinge cut, and I guess over time, through attrition enough customers got tired of having to explain it to the new artists and the U-cut was lost forever. Since then the hinge cut has devolved to just a normal horizontal cut (actually more like they just tear open the bread in a horizontal manner using a knife) and so all the contents spill out one, or both, sides depending on how aggresively they tore through it.

    Subway also seems to have taken other shortcuts to save time that have led to a very messy meal, such as putting all the condiments at the end of the production line instead of in the middle, so the sauces all sit on top of everything waiting to land in your hand, on your shirt or in your lap… whereas before they put the sauces right after the meat, and the u-cut helped contain it all like a canoe, then the veggies sat on top and tasted crisper and fresher for those who like em that way.

    i suppose I am getting to be one of those crusty old men, but the only reason I commented is that i just had a meatball sub completely disintegrate as I was trying to consume it. Was a pretty big fail, that would never happen if they actually built sub sandwiches with the thought of customer experience in mind like the old days.

    • I actually avoid getting certain sandwiches just because the current cut can’t hold together long enough for me to eat it. It’s kind of sad that they don’t care, but I’m guessing not enough customers care also otherwise they’d never do it (because they wouldn’t get away with it). In addition to all the condiments at the end, I’ve noticed fewer and fewer Subway employees making sure to hold in the ingredients when they close up the sub. Some just squish it together and wrap it up, heedless of whatever insides shoot out right then. I still go there, but I wish they’d cut that crap out.

  10. Mark K. says:

    David,

    I started at Subway in 2001 and still work at Subway. I learned the old and new cut so I still do the old style cut if asked but it is very rare that I get asked. The new employees are never trained on cutting the old way. The new way is called the henge cut. I did ask corporate why the change, I was told it was due to the speed oven coming and the new thru put language (the questions asked when you get a sub). If you remember the old way we would put the cheese on first then put the meat on top of the cheese next came the sauce on top of the meat after that would come the veggies. We would put oil, vinegar, salt and pepper on top of the veggies then put the top back on the sandwich. Now the meat comes before the cheese because if you toast the sub it is better with the cheese toasted on the meat not the bread then the veggies go on the bottom half and the sauces go on the top half except for oil and vinegar and salt and pepper. Also we used to lay the meat flat now we fold the meat. Hopefully this answers your question. It changed due to operational shifts according to the big wigs.

    Mark

    • Cheshire Cat says:

      Hey Mark,

      Are shift leaders / supervisors at least instructed on the old cut? Seems like a situation where one of us would be known as “that guy” if it was a busy lunch service.

      Also I do remember the cheese being laid on the bottom which along with the old cut worked great with meatball subs. The cheese melted while you cashed out and the sub was ready to eat by the time you got to your table or to your final lunch destination.

      It would be sweet if even they just brought back the old cut for meatball subs only. Call it the “classic meatball” or something like that.

  11. dan says:

    i recall the v cut. by the time you were done eating it, it was in shambles. the small slice of bread on top was a mess in your hands. i swore off subway subs for that very reason – the v cut. i don’t believe i was alone. it only hurt them. came back when they got smart with the bread cut of today.

    • Wow. You’re the first person I heard from who actually prefers the modern cut (though I’ve heard from many who just don’t care). I believe you that you aren’t alone, I just haven’t heard from any of the others. Well, I respect your opinion even if I don’t share it. I never had problems with the old cut and have had problems with the new. Regardless, you seem to be the winner on this one.

  12. AC Walker says:

    It really isn’t a conspiracy. There are a number of reasons why the old cut was done away with, and speed is only a very small part of the equation. For one thing, Subway never made a secret about changing the cut – it was announced in the trades at the very least and I seem to recall it being mentioned when they revamped the menu. In 2000 or 2001 a whole bunch of factors led to the change. The whole “Jared story” broke, which gave Subway the opportunity to advertise that it was healthy (they also signed Billy Blanks (remember him?) as a celeb endorser). This was prety much the FIRST national ad campaign they ever ran. They also took the next step by changing the slogan to “Eat fresh” and promoting Subway as both healthier AND fresher than fast food. As part of the rebranding the whole menu was changed- a bunch of new subs were added, use of balogna was reduced, and four new breads were introduced with the guarantee that they were freshly baked on premises- and THAT is the main reason the u-cut had to go. Why? Because in the days of the u-cut the italian bread was HARD, like a classic South Philly italian bread. It was relatively easy to cut a “lid” without having to hold the bread down and sawing away at it. The bread, being fresh baked, is now MUCH softer- I have experimented with cutting it old style and it is a mess, and yes, takes much longer. Meanwhile, a few years later Subway introduced toasting to compete with Quizno’s, and the ingredient order had to change by necessity (ever try to toast a sandwich with mayo or mustard already on? It’s disgusting.) So really, there’s not a whole lot Subway can do about this without totally reversing the strategy it has used for the last decade (one that has given the chain HUGE gains in market penetration).

    • I still prefer the old cut, and since there is little likelihood that I will get my way on this I feel no need to be particularly reasonable about it. Bottom line, if I want their sandwich I have to take it the way that they will give it to me.

  13. Mike says:

    Hope I’m not too off topic with this but… it’s not the long cut change that pees me off so much, but rather the cross cut that Subway employees make in a completed foot long sub. Without fail at any location you can name, a Subway emoployee cuts the completed foot long in half, but is careful to make it an incomplete cut, leaving a web of uncut bread between the halves, sometimes nearly the full thickness of the bottom bread! This makes the customer have to pull the halves apart and this often makes the sandwich lurch and spill contents, or the bread separates at a different spot on the lower bread than the cut upper half wrecking half the sandwich (at least making it a messy picking-up-the-parts excercise to eat it) Why do employees, all Subway employees, do this? To sabotage your sub? To keep the knife sharper, longer? Just resentment for your not being a worked to death buit underpaid fast food worker like they are?
    Would it kill them to cut the bread all the way in half?

    • Though this is a little different of an issue, I think this is totally on topic. I’m sure this is either an oversight or some technique that is supposed to keep the sub together in the wrapper better, but I agree that it is definitely annoying.

  14. Tim Lucier says:

    I always ask for the old cut. Never have I heard there was a ban, though I’ve had a couple people refuse to do it because they didn’t know how and didn’t understand my instructions. This pisses me off about Subway too. It is a much more satisfying sandwich when done right.

    I’ve been advocating the old cut for years, and it is sadly becoming more and more often that subway employees don’t know how to do it. (there is one woman I love who, when I ask for the old cut, is really happy that I do so and says she prefers to cut it that way but isn’t allowed to suggest it to customers, though she wishes she could advise it to anyone who orders the meatball.)

    Found your post today when looking for a diagram of how to do the cut, so I can print it off and keep it in my wallet to show them how to properly cut my sub. :)

    Keep up the topic! The more we share with others how to ask for this cut, the more likely current sandwich artists will be able to do it without our instruction. A few months ago I also sent a complaint to Subway about it. That’s another way to help with it.
    Cheers

    • I’ve actually been told on a few occasions by people who know the cut that they were told they couldn’t do it anymore. Still, most just don’t remember. I’ll pull for you regarding your complaint to Subway, but I have a feeling it is a bit of a lost cause.

  15. Chris Holowicki says:

    TESTIFY!

  16. Bshizzle says:

    I remember subway was always heavy handed with the lettuce using the v cut technique, leaving less room for additional toppings.

    • Really? I don’t remember that. That would kind of suck. Well, I’m sure if they ever brought it back you could just tell them to go easy on the lettuce. Most Subway employees these days seem pretty flexible about toppings.

  17. Amit says:

    The reality is you overlooked the real answer which was right under your nose. Your statement “It isn’t like cutting the bread the old way was more dangerous or expensive.” is wrong. It IS more dangerous… The knife moves away and then towards the stationary hand, and the movement towards the hand worried management, they changed the cut to a single cut away from the stationary hand.

    • Well, I’ve watched both cuts performed. Regardless whether or not people were supposed to be cutting the way I saw, they cut under the stationary hand (holding on top) as opposed to on one side then the other. Even if the old cut was more dangerous according to the way it was supposed to be done, it seems pretty similar from the way I actually seem them do it.

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