"I worked in China for a while, and for the expats at the office and I, one of our ‘safe havens’ was the local Subway. Yes! They have Subway in China!. When we really didn’t feel like eating local food and needed something safe and familiar, we’d order Subway. During those early days in China, that meant we ordered Subway a lot. The fact they delivered to the office on nights when we had to work overtime was a huge plus. However, when I order over the phone with my broken Mandarin skills, I often couldn’t communicate exactly how I wanted my sandwich. It made for some interesting cultural learning via sandwiches. After the first few sandwich deliveries, we discovered that Chinese Subway customers must love sauce. And I mean, really love it. Every sandwich came drenched with whatever sauce we asked for. Once, I got a tuna salad sandwich covered in extra mayo and somehow without any veggies on it. It was gross. I threw it out. After a while, we learned about the ‘default’ level of sauce and kept asking them to give us less and less. Gratefully, given how often we ordered, that Subway branch started recognizing the voices of those weird foreigners who love Subway and hate sauce, and they learned to adjust our sauces to a more normal level. Eventually, they opened a branch across the street from the office, which meant we finally got to order our sandwiches in person.
The first time I went in, I was in line behind a young Chinese girl, and she wanted mayo on her sub. The sandwich maker, armed with his mayo squirt bottle, put four lines of mayo on there (once along the sandwich and back again, twice). He peered up, checking to see whether this met her approval. Nope. More. So he put another four lines. He peered up again. Nope, still not enough. More. So he just went crazy and went back and forth along the length of the sub, using what seemed like the entire bottle. At this point, I could barely see the ingredients of the bread because there was so much mayonnaise on it. He peered up again. Perfect! She smiled and gleefully approved of her sandwich.
He closed the sandwich up and as he cut it, the sandwich just gave up trying to contain itself. Mayo oozed out of every side of the sandwich, out of every nook and cranny between slices of meat and tomatoes and cucumbers, and it cascaded down the sides onto the wax paper until the top half of the bun look like it was floating on a foot long blob of mayo. I gagged a little."
"I have seen some pretty weird sandwiches made at Subway. I used to work in an office literally directly above a franchise, but these three stick out in my mind. A customer ahead of me asked for a meatball and tuna sub, with extra marinara, as well as oil and vinegar on white bread. Let that wet monstrosity sink in.
One of the employees loved tomatoes. I mean he LOVED tomatoes. I was there the day that the restaurant received these HUGE tomatoes. The things were about six inches in diameter on average, so he was really excited to see them. After the afternoon rush, as I dropped by for my afternoon cookie, he went at it. He made for himself foot-long wheat sub, with a bit of olive oil, then EIGHT LAYERS OF TOMATOES, a bit of salt and pepper, and then the top piece of bread. Keep in mind that at that time, Subways sliced their tomatoes at about 1/4 inch, so we are talking about two and a half inches of overlapping tomato slices, with about an inch and a half tomato rim all around. I cannot say it was the most disgusting thing I have seen, but it was certainly memorable.
One time back in the day, when Subway still had the 99¢ 6" Meatball Sub promo, I had a bit of lunch money to burn, so I went for one. The girl making the sandwich asks if I want double meat for an extra 50¢. Now, you all have to remember that back then, Subway sliced their bread differently, basically carving a groove of sorts along the top. The meatballs back then were also larger than the itty-bitty marbles they have today. I had two whole dollars burning a hole in my purse, a hankering for a 39¢ iced tea, and a willingness to do something stupid in order to see someone attempt the impossible. 'Sure!' I said, knowing full well the geometry of the situation. The girl smiled, put the four 1.5" diameter meatballs on the 6" sub, and halted, perplexed, trying to figure out where to put the other four meatballs. She called over the manager, who says, 'Put three on top,' but I will not be short-changed. I remind him that 'double meat' does not mean 75% more meat. He agrees, but says they just won't fit, it will have to be three. I would not have that. I was offered double, and I would get double. He smiled and said, 'If you can make all eight meatballs fit properly on this bun, the meal is on the house.'
I smiled, asked to be allowed behind the counter, washed my hands, and set to work. I sliced the four extra meatballs and fit them like railroad lantern flares in the nooks between the basic four, put sauce, cheese, onions, pickles, jalapeño slices, and a handful of black olives, wrapped it, and asked for a cookie, a bag of chips, and an iced tea. I got TWO cookies, TWO bags of chips, and an extra large iced tea, along with the sandwich, on the house! The sandwich was not disgusting, but it was a world-class mess to eat!"
"This weirdo took full advantage of one of our loopholes. There was the fact that it was slightly cheaper to order extra meat on one sandwich than multiple individual sandwiches. This happened regularly for three long, sad weeks in a row. He would get double steak, double bacon, ham, chicken teriyaki, and the seafood sensation. Seriously. This whole thing looked disgusting, not to mention the sodium bomb loaded within its various contents. I couldn't even close the sub at this point, and I still had to toast it. It took me and another coworker to carry this abomination over to the oven. Blergh. At this point, you're probably wondering why someone would even order a sandwich in the first place? This thing is a meat buffet on a piece of soggy bread! Did the person look like they were starving and ordering their first meal of the week? Nope. They did not need this much meat. I also can't stand it when people want lots of pepper. My nose is not very fond of these fine particles in the air."
"I have had some real monsters come in and order some nasty subs in my day. This woman would come in every Wednesday night and order two foot long multigrain cold cut subs with 3/4 of a bottle of light mayo on each sub. She would still ask for extra mayo packets with her order. This somehow happened every single Wednesday night. We aren't supposed to charge extra for sauce, and barely anyone else gets the light mayonnaise, so my manager didn't really have a problem with this. In fact, this woman was probably the only reason that we still stocked light mayonnaise.
This kid once came in and ordered a steak, grilled chicken, bacon, roast beef, and meatball sub, loaded with jalapeños and extra mayo. He was so upset when his order naturally came up to over $20 with all of the add-ons.
A pregnant woman once ordered only pickles and ham on her sub. By pickles, I mean she asked for the ENTIRE container's worth of pickles that I had out on the line. She gets a pass here because of what I can only imagine to be some massive craving, but it was still disgusting to make. When you empty out an entire pickle's worth of a container it's maybe a little over half a gallon of pickles. Since pickles are moist, a lot of the liquid from the pickles soaked through the bread (her sandwich wasn't toasted). I had to wrap up a soggy piece of break that was now stained light green from the sheer amount of pickles on there. It felt like a sponge that was beginning to totally collapse. When I set this nightmare down on the counter, it made a squishing noise."
"It was a dark and stormy night. My girlfriend and I had just checked in to our hotel after a day at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. Little did we know, our day was about to be a bit less happy. Things were about to get horrific after we popped in to Subway for a quick dinner, and we were greeted by a very long line. We hopped in the queue behind a group of three British ladies and waited for the many guests to snake their way along. What would our friends from across the pond order? It was finally their turn. No fish and chips in sight, they opted for the next most aquatic option, a real crowd pleaser, the tuna salad sub. A few scoops of tuna later, it was time to top that bad boy off. Here’s where things get gruesome.
'Swiss cheese, please.'
'That will be extra ma'am. Is that okay?'
'Would you like that toasted?'
So now we've got a hot fishy cheesy sub fresh out of the oven. Time for some veggies.
'Oh, no veggies thank you.'
'Would you like some sauce on that.'
'Just mayonnaise, please.'
We have trouble comprehending why she needs to add mayonnaise atop cheesy tuna salad.
'More mayonnaise, please.'
Looks of horror are exchanged as we stifle a giggle.
'A bit more, please.'
I almost throw up in my mouth a little. The Subway staff members managed to remain composed, but everybody in the establishment knew we had just witnessed something that we would never be able to unsee."
I worked at Subway for three years and two different locations for my last two years of high school and a year in college, and only two sandwiches stand out in my mind. Ham and Mayo. I knew this girl. Her mom was the receptionist at our high school. She was very pretty and petite and quite popular. I chatted with her like normal, and helped her down the whole line. She asked for a foot long ham sandwich, no vegetables, one strip of mustard and mayonnaise until she said stop. I’ll give you a hint, you couldn’t see the pink of the ham anymore. I had to refill the mayonnaise bottles after she came in. I never looked at her quite the same.
The monster. This one was fun to make. This guy was nice and chatty, younger and athletic. He was one of those pleasant customers that actually cared if you were having a good day. I asked what he would like, and he said 'a double meat monster'. I gave him a sideways glance, as if to say, 'Are you sure?' If you aren’t in on the Subway 'Secret Menu' lingo, then you might not know what a monster is. It includes layer of every deli meat we have, a layer of chicken, 6 strips of bacon, and double cheese. Try not to forget, he wanted a double meat. That alone was a $15 sandwich. He did add some lettuce when it came out of the toaster, and I laughed as this foodie of my dreams walked out of the store.
Whether the Subway Secret Menu is a thing or not, most employees are willing to make literally whatever you want, as long as you’re nice about it and willing to pay for your add-ons. If you’re really nice, I hardly ever charged people for their extra stuff.
There was another instance that was more of a weird situation than sandwich. I worked at a fairly busy Subway during high school summers, and the line would basically circle the inside of the restaurant. It was very noisy and crowded, but we were about as efficient as any Subway can be. There was rarely a hold up or returned food, and sandwiches out within a couple minutes. Usually if there’s a hold-up or any kind of inconvenience, it throws off the whole system. But this day stands out to me, it was pretty cool. A lady came in and was trying to get my attention at the beginning of the line as her turn was approaching. She didn’t say anything, just smiled and handed me a little laminated highlighter yellow card that read something like, 'Hello, I had a stroke and I have trouble forming the right words. Please be patient with me.' I took it upon myself to walk this lady down the whole row with a point-and-nod system to make her sandwich just how she wanted. None of my coworkers were upset, it didn’t hold up the line, and she was in and out in a few minutes just like everyone else. It was pretty cool to keep what could have been a mountain as a molehill."
"This local Subway had a specific item on the menu known as the 'Beast Feast', which was just as intimidating as it sounded. It consisted of a foot long double meat, double cheese sandwich that included every kind of deli meat (featuring bologna, salami, ham, salami, pepperoni, black forest ham, roast beef, corned beef, turkey, and bacon) as well as each kind of cheese slice (featuring cheddar, provolone, pepper jack, and swiss). This sandwich was $16. I ordered two of them, both with extra meat and cheese, which was an additional $3.50 per sandwich. The sandwich artist stared at me as if I was totally deranged. He still went ahead and started to make them. The manager had a different idea though. He came out as the Subway guy was in the process of adding in all of the veggies and sauces, but the manager said that this amount of food on a sandwich wasn't allowed. I just started at the manager and said, 'There isn't anything on the menu that restricts extra meat and cheese on the Feast, and I already paid for it. So you got a choice: refund my money or let this person finish making my snack.'
I got my sandwiches, and the Beast Feast was dropped from their menu the next time I went to that location."
"I once had the 'fortune' of being behind a woman ordering this: one black forest ham foot long sandwich, but she requested to hold the ham (she was using that sandwich as the base because it was the cheapest). She wanted the guy to add five orders of bacon (which on a foot long comes to fifteen strips per my store's three strips per order on a foot long), add three slices each of every cheese you offer. Next, she wanted exactly five slices of tomato and she had to approve each slice before it could go on the sandwich. Ten leaves of spinach (at least she did add veggies), and god forbid, why doesn’t this location have pickles! Then, she wanted enough mayo to submerge a newborn baby. She also wanted a soup cup full of black olives, as she liked to add them to the sandwich just before she ate it. Now, she wanted the sandwich cut into five pieces with a slice of tomato on each piece, make sure not to cut the tomatoes! Oh, and now that it was cut and each piece wrapped individually, oozing mayo everywhere, she remembered she needed that seasoning sprinkle stuff, and since they forgot to ask, would she get a discount because it was all the sandwich maker's fault that she didn’t get it. She then got mad as a hornet that said location doesn’t do the free cookie with an add-on (they actually do, but she would have gotten almost a dozen cookies for her add-ons), and of course said location didn’t carry her soda on fountain like her typical location does. She then demanded a discount off of her sandwich for that since she would have to make an additional stop now.
I asked today when I picked up my sandwich why this locale doesn’t have pickles. The location I visit is a franchise location, and the owner is extremely sensitive to the smell of pickles. They also don’t offer tuna salad because she can’t stand the smell of that either."
"Former sandwich artist here, one day an older gentleman came in. I come from and worked in a more rural area, so sometimes the older people don’t quite understand subway is a 'build your own' sandwich shop. I welcome the guy in and ask how can I help, he wants a sandwich, what bread, yada yada yada. But when we get to what type of sandwich, he seems confused. He just says, 'Everything.'
I ask him what he means by that, and he just reaffirms everything. I tell him we have specific types of sandwiches and point to the menu with the various sandwich makes on it and he just once again, says he’d like a little bit of everything.
'So uh.... you want salami? And ham?'
'And uh... chicken, and tuna?'
'And roast beef and teriyaki chicken, and seafood delight?'
'Yes. I want everything.'
Curious to see what this monstrosity would look like, and also wanting to oblige the man, I followed his instructions. And I made him an everything sandwich. It was basically an open sandwich at the end, because there was no possible way that I could shut it. He paid for it and this bizarre man actually ate it. No hesitation, nothing. Clearly, this man had his priorities straight.
"I've worked off and on at Subway for years. I just went back two months ago due to losing my real job.
Lots of people want an excessive amount of toppings or sauces. Honestly at least 10% of the sandwiches I make are just disgusting. We have people who want giant handfuls of onions and people who want giant handfuls of pickles. We have olive freaks who don't want to see bread underneath their pile of olives. We have people who want fifteen passes of sauces so the whole thing is dripping. We have people who want to double of all the veggies. Like I get wanting extra of something, but the amount of times I would put on a giant handful of something thinking there was no way they would want more and then they would ask for about three times as much was staggering. Just absolutely disgusting amounts that really messed up our inventory and food costs. And then of course they're impossible to close afterwards and we get yelled at for the sandwiches being messy. On a lighter note, we have one regular customer who just wants meat, cheese and a LOT of black pepper. I'm talking 10-15 seconds of shaking. I usually sneeze but at least peppers cheap and easy to prep.
All of which I'm cool with, but then you get the occasional person who still doesn't think that's enough. Sometimes I'll do a second big handful of olives and it's still not enough. At that point I kinda give up on their sandwich and hope they re-evaluate their ordering decisions when olives explode out of their sandwich and fall on to their floor later when they get home. (No dine-in at our location thankfully)
Subway pro-tip to anyone who wants a ridiculous amount of veggies or condiments despite what I've written: Order your stuff on the side! You try closing a sandwich with literally a hundred olives on it and/or fifteen passes of mayonnaise. If you wanna be ridiculous, ask for it on the side. I'd rather fill three take-away containers of mayo or a soup container full of olives than have to try to close and wrap a sandwich with them. It will be much, much less messy for us both."
"The ultimate secret menu item at Subway was of course the Christ Sub, for obvious reasons. This sandwich included a double order of every kind of meat, pepper jack cheese, and it was toasted. Then add some veggies and every kind of sauce. This sub sandwich was so massive that we needed two loaves of bread to contain it. I would toast the meats on the bottom sub, then toast the cheese, peppers, jalapeños, and tomatoes on the top load. I would wedge the vegetables in between the two loaves of bread and soak them in sauces. Finally, I would subdue this massive mess with some heavy tuna, in order to unite the kingdoms of heaven and earth.
We also had a secret menu item called the Samson Sub. This was a triple meatball and salami sub, almost burnt in the toaster, along with mozzarella and Italian dressing. The key to this sub is that I added so much marinara that it was impossible to close the sub without it totally disintegrating, given the fact that he contained eighteen meatballs on it. You had to over-toast the sandwich, so that the marinara didn't obliterate the structural integrity. After the sauce, there was a second toasting of the sandwich. This also included a second layer of cheese and veggies to really make the sandwich feel cohesive. I served this one open-faced with black olives and banana peppers. The premise for the sandwich was a 'strong man' protein bomb."
"During one all-nighter in college, a few of us went to Subway and the experience will inspire me forever. My sandwich order wasn’t outrageous, but you’ll understand this in a moment. Two friends were there with me and can verify that it was real. It was late. Before we hunkered down to work all night on our design projects, we wanted to eat. Subway was close, open, and we all agreed to it. I liked eating half a foot long right away and keeping the other half for later. We were fired up, discussing big ideas and joking as we walked over. I remember the lights inside Subway glowing like a beacon. It was dark all around, maybe some streetlights were out. There were no customers inside and no cars in the lot. I could make out one sandwich artist behind the counter, standing rigidly, unmoving. We burst out laughing, into a quiet space. There was no radio and no TV, just the faint hum of the lights. I don’t even remember a bell on the door, but there may have been one. As we entered, he continued to stare straight ahead, like a soldier at attention. We didn’t think anything of it, it only seemed weird upon recollection afterwards. We lined up and looked over the menu and sandwich ingredients, figuring out what to order. Someone had a question like, 'Is the chicken any good tonight?' (It’s never any good). The guy didn’t answer, though. He continued to stand completely still, hands clasped behind his back, staring straight ahead. We looked at one another, eyebrows raised, confirming it was odd to all of us.
Whatever. Our school was half designers and half crazy artists. Our benchmarks for oddity were pretty high. We pressed on. I remember him waiting until we’d specified all our topping options as well, instead of asking down the line as usual. As each of us ordered, he offered acknowledgment with a slight turn of his head, and a short, sharp nod. He didn’t look us in the eye. The instant we’d given our third and final order, he erupted into action. We all went silent. It was an incredible spectacle. He spun to retrieve three buns like a machine. A beautiful gleaming knife appeared in his hand, and he cut them in half with single measured strokes—no crumbs. His movements were so precise, so efficient! I was transfixed. He would move so fast that he seemed to teleport between tasks, then slow immediately to lay down meats and cheeses with such care and exactitude that they were evenly distributed end to end. You could have taken a ruler to them. Most people have to dip into toppings like olives and lettuce numerous times, big tongs full, tiny bits, poking around, adding, removing, getting the sandwich covered right. This guy went into each topping exactly one time, grabbing the ideal amount, and spreading it across each layer like a card magician fans a deck across table felt. I swear.
At some point, the most outgoing guy in our group broke the trance and started talking to the sandwich maker, stuff like, 'You remembered all that?!' and, 'This guy’s like a ninja!' Then we all joined in, cheering first, calling out his actions like sports announcers, then trying to make him laugh, or even smile. Even our best attempts couldn’t crack that face of stone. To this day, I remember how he grabbed a condiment bottle in each hand, executed terse synchronized flips—no flair—then piped parallel mustard and mayo lines up and down the sandwich like a robot printer. No spurts, no spaces, perfection. There was a hint of showmanship near the end, when he spun like a dance master, tossed the sandwiches toward the microwave, then caught and inserted them in one fluid movement. Again, he stood like a statue while they heated. Our laughs, amazement, joy, and callouts elicited no response.
He took our payment with all the confident meticulousness he prepared the sandwiches, ever quiet, never meeting our eyes. I thanked him with an earnestness I’m rarely inspired towards. We walked out, hands in the air, shouting 'Subway samurai!' Across the parking lot, I turned for one final look, and he had returned to standing motionless where we found him. The guys and I gushed, sharing and reviewing all the details we’d noticed, the amazement, conjecture about his dark and varied history, until we returned and got back to work. Our sandwiches were, of course, excellent.
We went back to Subway the next day, hoping to relive the experience, but someone else was making sandwiches. We told him the story I just told you, but he said nobody like that worked there. He didn’t work every night, but he knew everyone, and the samurai didn’t come close to matching the description of any of them. I’m not kidding. He thought we were wasted or something. We continued to visit, but the sandwich master never appeared again, and remained a mystery to everyone there."