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View Full Version : Why'd Subway change how it cut the bread?


Omniscient
11-17-2003, 04:01 AM
Now, I realize this isn't a major question of the universe, though I suppose some of us may think so, but since I'm kinda hoping a person in the know will actually be able to provide a concrete answer I'm putting it here. As always I'm at the mercy of the mods.

Here goes. Some of you older folks may recall that when Subway first made its way into every suburban strip mall they had a different way of cutting the fresh baked bread prior to filling than they do now. At least I'm going to assume you all know this since every store I ever went to as a teen cut it the same way, and now every store cuts it a different, but same, way. Follow?

Specifically, back in the day they used to cut a wedge out of the top of the bun. Sliding the knife in parallel to the length of the bun at about a 30 degree angle from straight up and down. They'd then cut down the length, turning 180 degrees at the end and going back down the other side. Then, they'd tear out the wedge from the top of the bun, leaving you with a bread boat of sorts to fill with goodies.

Nowadays, they simply slide the knife in parallel to the countertop and cut a long cut along the axis of the bread, and folding it in half like a giant hot dog bun.

Why'd they change it? It certainly seems to be a institutional thing since I noticed it gradually happening at one, then another, then another store over a fairly short span of time about 5 years ago. I liked the old way better since it seemed to hold in the toppings better and allowed you to not leave half the sandwich piled in your wrapper.

Whats the deal? Any ex-employees out there that can enlighten me?

threemae
11-17-2003, 04:14 AM
They still do the wedge described here in Denver, and it seems like a good thing, although in certain areas, perhaps it exceeded the grasp of their "Sandwhich Artistes"

I can't believe that's butter!
11-17-2003, 04:19 AM
This site (http://mitchell.dwyer.net/journal/11jul03.htm) is a secondhand account of why.

Personally, I wonder if the difficulty of the cut vs. the expanding of the Subway chain (now the biggest—ahead of McDonald's) was a major factor.

I can't believe that's butter!
11-17-2003, 04:24 AM
Hit 'Post' too soon—and, for a while there, there was a prominently posted placard stating that while the slice was the default cut, the U-gouge was available upon request.

Since I didn't see this card when I went a month ago, I can only assume that the chance of getting a U-gouge depends on the skill of Le Sub-omane as well as his allegiance to the stricter, more—how 'you say—piddely-dink portions of company policy.

DoubleJ
11-17-2003, 09:13 AM
I can only assume it was changed because the vut takes twice as long, and is annoying as hell for the customer (well, for everyone I know who ate at Subway, anyway).

DoubleJ
11-17-2003, 09:15 AM
vut = cut, of course. And I even checked it first :smack:

Mr Jim
11-17-2003, 09:23 AM
I've never had a prob requesting the "old cut". It definitely holds everything in better.

jjimm
11-17-2003, 09:35 AM
Interesting, I just got my lunch from Subway and was thinking the same thing. I thought it was because the method hadn't translated when it crossed the Atlantic. Clearly not.

Dogface
11-17-2003, 10:00 AM
It depends upon the individual Subway. Oddly enough, it seems that the ones still using the V cut seem to make the sandwiches better, too.

Jake4
11-17-2003, 11:02 AM
Like Mr Jim, I too have never had a problem going up to the Subway counter and asking my sub to be cut 'old school.'

McDeath_the_Mad
11-17-2003, 11:36 AM
I was a "Sandwich Artist" (for 5 weeks, 11 years ago) and I was told via a orientation video that Subway had actually put a patent on the "U-Groove" that they cut into the bread.

I loved it, because all your fix'ins never "slip" out like they do now.

MtM

wolfsbane
11-17-2003, 12:14 PM
My understanding of the change was customer complaints, after people caught on to the fact that by using the "u-cut", subway was able to use much less filling in their subs than other sub shops. The "u-cut" made the sandwich appear to be overstuffed with filling, but in reality, it was mostly a bread sandwich with a niggardly amount of filling scooped into the gouge.

DoubleJ
11-17-2003, 12:17 PM
Wow, I must've been eating at sub-standard Subways then, since everyone else likes the V-cut. By the time they got done mashing the two pieces of bread back together it was basically a flat sandwich with only half of the top bun. With the toppings I usually got it made for some messy eating.

Ill Logik
11-17-2003, 12:39 PM
I agree that getting your bread cut a certain way depends on which Subway you go to. I have been to Subways where they ask ahead of time how you like it cut and I have been to Subways where the teenagers working were too new to even know what I was talking about. I find this rather hard to believe, and I assume that they didn't want to cut it the old way because it was too difficult for them.

The new cut sucks because everything falls out of the sandwich. Not only that, but another problem is that the cut of the meat is too wide to fit on just one half of the bread. Ideally, with the new cut, the sandwich should be made by laying the meat and cheese and veggies on one half, then folding the other half over on top. Instead, the meat covers all of one half and about a quarter of the other half (make sense?). Thus, when the half that should have nothing on it is folder over, the meat that was overlapping it is doubled up, and at the same time it pushes half the veggies out the other side. Most workers I have seen compensate for this by wrapping it really fast to either hide/minimize the amount that falls out. The end result is a sub that consists of a big thick bunch of meat down one side and a barely contained bunch of veggies on the other.

I emailed Subway corporate headquarters last year about the new cut and how terrible it is. There was a field on the form asking at which Subway I encountered a problem, so I listed the one at frequented most, and by coincidence or not, there was a sign posted after about a week stating that customers could get their bread cut either the new way or the old way.

As you can see, I take my Subway very seriously!

Acsenray
11-17-2003, 01:04 PM
From my point of view, the old U cut would only work properly if after cutting you hollowed out some of the bread from the bottom half.

prisoner6655321
11-17-2003, 01:59 PM
Originally posted by wolfsbane
My understanding of the change was customer complaints, after people caught on to the fact that by using the "u-cut", subway was able to use much less filling in their subs than other sub shops. The "u-cut" made the sandwich appear to be overstuffed with filling, but in reality, it was mostly a bread sandwich with a niggardly amount of filling scooped into the gouge.
Actually if the sandwich "Artist" cuts the U (not "v") shaped gouge correctly, there is MORE surface area/volume for putting the ingredients inside the sandwich. I as a Subway employee (before the sandwich Artist days*) always cut the sandwich with as much of the hole removed to make it hold as much as possible. I could also cut the lid off in less time than it takes them to cut this dumb method now. Next time you go to a Subway shop, ask them to cut it "Olde Style" and see what happens.


*I called myself a SALAD artist. I think they stole the name from me.

Chronos
11-17-2003, 04:06 PM
If the fillings are falling out of the hoagie cut, that just indicates that the assembler doesn't know how to put the fillings in. You cut it, fold it open, and lay everything flat in the middle. Then, when you fold it back together, everything stays in. It's not at all difficult.

lightingtool
11-17-2003, 04:16 PM
My ex-girlfriend worked at a Subway when they made the switch. She was told that too many employees were cutting themselves doing the "U cut," so the higher-ups decided to make the switch to a less accident-prone cutting method.

This post by lightingtool - your source for second-hand, un-cited matieral.

quiltguy154
11-17-2003, 07:16 PM
Have they changed how they cut the cheese?

Tangent
11-17-2003, 07:33 PM
Originally posted by quiltguy154
Have they changed how they cut the cheese?

They cut the cheese after sliding the meat in between the buns.
And then they squirt "sauce" all over the place.


i'm so sorry

KP
11-17-2003, 09:40 PM
I certainly understand and applaud the OP. I often have this kind of question myself, and really enjoy how employee reminiscences on the web reveal all sorts of minutiae that never made it into the public eye, except through the often self-serving and inaccurate accounts given by company spokemen (who themselves have no firsthand knowledge of the subject)

However, I really have to wonder: is the art of home sandwich-making really so dead? I know that I have developed, over the years, many different bread cuts for different types of sandwich, each with its own well-tested rationale, born of a lifetime of casual sandwich making. It often depends on individual taste or eating style, but there's a lot of science as well. I'd hoped to see comments from the personal experiments of others

For sub rolls alone, there are dozens of variations. There are through-cuts (separating the roll into two parts) and partial slits like the vertical 'clam roll' slit cut through the browned top crust and the horizontal 'hot dog' slit cut through one side of the roll. Some loose meat, ground beef or sauce-rich sandwiches hold together better with a top-cut inverted Y slit (inverted T for two-lobed portuguese rolls) while messy sandwiches that need uniform layering may work better with a side-cut V or W slit. Some tricky sandwiches benefit from having some of the roll hollowed out. -- and don't even get me started on the effects of various methods of toasting (e.g. opened flat in a large toaster or V-toasted under a broiler) on various slits.

Even on simple slit-cut rolls, there's a soft side/firm' side/seamless issue e.g the 'softer side' where the roll had more3 contact with it's is more likely to split if used as the angle of a slit-cut sub. Various types of rolls rolls may have two soft sides (usually with one larger than the other), one soft side, or none.

Okay, so I'm a loon. I'll happily enjoy any good sandwich made by another, but when I make my own, I enjoy getting it 'right'. As a child I made my post Thanksgiving turkey-and-gravy sandwiches the same way I made a turkey-and-stuffing or turkey-and-mayo - and that's just fine- but having experiemented, I'll never go back

jjimm
11-18-2003, 04:18 AM
As an aside, because of the lack of the bread placed on top of the U-cut, in the Dublin branch, whenever they wrap the sandwiches, they get sauce everywhere - all over the wrapping and not on the sandwich - because for some dumb reason the employees put the sauces on last. I always have to shout "sauce before salad!" to avoid this. Does this now happen in the US too?

KarlGrenze
11-18-2003, 05:39 AM
Depends... but they usually ask if you want the select sauces before putting the toppings.

Like Chronos said, if they put the fillings right, hardly any veggie gets out.

The branch I go to uses the U cut only for the meatball sandwich.

Avumede
11-18-2003, 09:50 AM
Call me crazy, but I remember it the other way around. First came the striaght cut, then the U-cut. I haven't eaten at Subway for years, but if they went back to the straight cut, then that's how they used to do it.

prisoner6655321
11-18-2003, 01:10 PM
Originally posted by wolfsbane
My understanding of the change was customer complaints, after people caught on to the fact that by using the "u-cut", subway was able to use much less filling in their subs than other sub shops. The "u-cut" made the sandwich appear to be overstuffed with filling, but in reality, it was mostly a bread sandwich with a niggardly amount of filling scooped into the gouge. Actually if the sandwich "Artist" cuts the U (not supposed to be "v") shaped gouge correctly, there is MORE surface area (for dressing)/volume (for ingredients) inside the sandwich. I as a Subway employee (before the sandwich Artist days*) always cut the sandwich with as much of the inside removed to make it hold as much as possible. I could also cut the lid off in less time than it takes them to cut this dumb method now. Next time you go to a Subway shop, ask them to cut it "Olde Style" and see what happens. They'll probably screw it up and you'll end up eating part of their thumb. Yummy. It takes a bit of practice and flair to do it right.


*I called myself a SALAD artist years before they called their employees sandwich artists. I think they stole the name from me. Doncha hate when they do that?

unixrat
11-18-2003, 02:50 PM
My two second-hand cents: The U-cut went away with the introduction of the expanded bread line. Some of the new breads were scored differently on top, leading to very thin sections of a 'U' on top. Also, some of the new breads can have various schmutz on top, most of which bakes into a hard, difficult to cut crusty shell.

Or so goes the scuttlebutt from employees when questioned...

Omniscient
11-18-2003, 06:55 PM
I gotta tell you, of all the theories posted, this last one by unixrat seems the most believable to me. The new breads (though it seems the change predated the really elaborate breads they have now) did seem to somewhat correspond to the new cut.

I disagree with wolfsbane's point that you get less filling from the U-gouge. I've noticed Subway getting much more stingy with the toppings these days with the new cut. They used to have a prepared stacking of meat for each sandwich style with a consistent amount of meat. Now they build the sandwich one slice of meat at a time, and when you get a sandwich with one type of meat you get a very poor volume of it, usually only a couple thin slices. Thats somewhat besides the point, but I think that the logistics involved in filling a side cut sandwich preclude heaping much in the way of toppings into it. Two flat surfaces of bread simply take less volume than a U shaped resevoir.

The pessemist in me thinks that the new cut was specifically for the purpose of allowing them to use less ingredients for the same price. All in the name of cost cutting and screwing the customer without their knowledge.

lightningtool's theory that it is a result of knife accidents strikes me as unlikely too. If you watch them cut the new style, they usually hold the bread in one palm, while pressing the knife in the opposite side and cutting through. A method warned against by every home-ec teacher and TV chef since the dawn of time. The point and edge of the blade are directed right at the palm of the opposite hand. However when you picture the person doing the U-gouge, they knife blade is always directed away from hands and body. The tip is basically always directed down at the cutting board and the blade mostly moves side to side in front of the body and away from the hand holding the bread in place.

I find very few reasons besides the one mentioned above about the new breads with fancy toppings and the theory about it being a cost-cutting method as to why this new way would be beneficial. It seems more dangerous to the employee, very marginally faster and that I tend to even doubt, less efficient and disliked by many customers, and no longer a Subway signature. Unless I'm missing something, a decision like this usually comes down to corporate greed. I hope to be proven wrong. Thanks for the input.

don't ask
11-19-2003, 01:50 AM
Like most important questions this has been covered on the SDMB before. I contributed to the thread but was baffled trying to think of a "commercial" reason for the change. Later I asked Subway employees and the story I got was like lightingtool - safety reasons. A couple of weeks ago my nephew, who works at a Subway mentioned the same thing.

vasyachkin
11-19-2003, 03:29 AM
maybe they just didn't want to waste the bread ? and have to actually find a way to dispose of it afterwards ?

KarlGrenze
11-19-2003, 05:46 AM
Originally posted by Omniscient

I disagree with wolfsbane's point that you get less filling from the U-gouge. I've noticed Subway getting much more stingy with the toppings these days with the new cut. They used to have a prepared stacking of meat for each sandwich style with a consistent amount of meat. Now they build the sandwich one slice of meat at a time, and when you get a sandwich with one type of meat you get a very poor volume of it, usually only a couple thin slices. Thats somewhat besides the point, but I think that the logistics involved in filling a side cut sandwich preclude heaping much in the way of toppings into it. Two flat surfaces of bread simply take less volume than a U shaped resevoir.

The pessemist in me thinks that the new cut was specifically for the purpose of allowing them to use less ingredients for the same price. All in the name of cost cutting and screwing the customer without their knowledge.


The prepared stacking of meat consisted of two slices of meat, in many cases. When it had more meat, it was because it was a special combo (like the salami and ham and something else).

prisoner6655321
11-19-2003, 08:57 PM
Originally posted by vasyachkin
maybe they just didn't want to waste the bread ? and have to actually find a way to dispose of it afterwards ?
Yikes, that's ignorant.* Did you eat at Subway when they were cutting it with the U shaped cut? They put the toppings inside, then they put the lid back on. Of course, sometimes it would fall on the floor while they preparing the sandwich, and (if the customer saw the lid fall :D) the subway employee would have to start over. The old lids were more prone to fall than the new ones. They were more cylindrical and they would roll. The new ones don't. But I think this is inconsequential. They probably changed the cut because they could skimp on toppings and get away with it. They changed the "Veggie and Cheese" with 8 slices of cheese to the "Veggie Delight" with only 4 and charged more. So we know they are cheapskates. They didn't change the quantity of meat, as far as I know. They changed the quantity of other stuff they put into the sandwich. When I worked there they would always harp on us about not putting so much lettuce in there. And only 4 olives. "Olives are the most expensive ingredient!" But the employees have no way of knowing exactly how much lettuce is proper. The new cut makes it easier for the employee to refrain from putting so much inside.

Also, they changed the cut a couple of years before the new breads came out, so I don't think that was factor.

Another change: remember when they used to make employees wash thier hands? Now they use gloves. What happens then? They use the same gloves all night long. No thank you. Wash your hands. I don't bother anymore though. Not when Schlotzskys is an option.

*Ignorant isn't an insult. It only means you don't know.

prisoner6655321
11-19-2003, 09:02 PM
Oh wait! They put the meat on in front of you now? (It's been awhile.) Well if they only put two slices on then they ARE skimping. A turkey sandwich used to have 6 slices of meat. Likewise ham and roast beef. BMT had 3 Ham, 3 Baloney, 20 salami and 20 um... I forget. Something else similar to salami. The BMT had the most meat. And it was a LOT of meat. I wonder how much they put on now. Not that I really care, except that it confirms that they are money grubbing jerks now.

Meeko
11-20-2003, 11:32 PM
Ok, I think we are missing the main point here. I am bias now as to if I ever had a subway sub with the u/v cut. Regardless, two questions need to be answered before the 'right' answer can be found.

1.Did subway always bake their own bread, and how long was each loaf?

2. The main reason I think, and I think it is escaping all of us admist the talk about surface area and the like. Did subway always offer 6 inch and foot long?

If they didnt, the cut had to change in order to make shorter sandwiches.

Simply put, the bread boat concept needs two 'ends' in the loaf, this would imply that all the subs where the same length. You can not create two more 'ends' once you cut a foot long loaf into two 6 inch pieces.

Interestingly enough, I explored this post and thought that it was along the lines of that "If we remove one olive from each jar, we can save 2 million dollars a year" school of thought. That diserves its own thread, but when all is said and done, it comes down to Subway saving money any way you slice it (Pun intended) the needed to save the dough for when they knead it later.

More profits, bottom line.

aktep
11-20-2003, 11:43 PM
1. Yes. All loves were 12", and they would cut one in half to make a 6" sandwich.
2. As well as a 4" round, which is cut the "new" way.

vasyachkin
11-22-2003, 03:21 AM
you got me prisoner, i never ate at subway :) i dont know of any fast food service that would satisfy my dietary needs. which is about 350 grams of protein per day :)

Fredge
11-22-2003, 08:28 AM
The U-cut is also referred to as the 'classic cut'. Here's an Online Petition (http://spine.cx/sections.php?op=viewarticle&artid=2) to bring it back; though I don't know that subway is going to bend to likes of this site. It has pictures of both cuts.

Loach
11-22-2003, 09:31 AM
I just finished this entire reply then lost it when I tried to post. Let me try again.

If you ate at the subway in College Park MD in 1987 (for about a month and a half) you may have had a sandwich prepared by me. I will confirm a previous point : the U-cut was used as trickery designed to make the sandwiches look bigger and more stuffed than they were. Along with that was the old method of placing the meats on wax paper prior to making the sandwiches. This was used so that you could spread and arrange the slices in the proscribed pattern which was scientifically proven to make it look like there was more meat. We also sliced our own meat. The slices were so thin they only had one side. At least now you might be able to convince the chef to throw on a couple of extra slices if the manager is watching too closely.

Shrinking Violet
11-22-2003, 09:49 AM
I keep trying to stop reading this thread, because it makes me hungry ..... :D

Speaking as a Brit who is unfamiliar with the Subway u/v cut (as far as I'm aware it isn't normally used over here, and back in the 70s when I worked for a while in a deli cutting HUGE french baton sandwiches, we used the "new" Subway cut) the following points occur to me:

I would find the new cut easier to hold without the filling falling out - it is held securely inside the bread, not balanced on top of it;

The new cut wastes no bread;

The filling is distributed more uniformly through the bread, and you'd be less likely to get a mouthful of bread with no filling.

Off to get a sarnie ..... ;)

Julie

prisoner6655321
11-22-2003, 08:15 PM
Originally posted by Loach
I just finished this entire reply then lost it when I tried to post. Let me try again.

I will confirm a previous point : the U-cut was used as trickery designed to make the sandwiches look bigger and more stuffed than they were.
I'm sorry but common sense and my own experiences tell me that you are wrong. What holds more soup? A plate or a bowl? Same principle applies here. The U cut holds more stuff.

The amount of goods that ends up in the sandwich does depend on what the employee is allowed to put in the sandwich. Better owner/manager = better sandwich. The best (pre-professional) job I ever had was at the "space center" Subway in Clear Lake City (near NASA) (Around 1991). We STUFFED those sandwiches. And the people appreciated it. EVERY DAY we got the scientific elite jamming our lobby to get one of our sandwiches. The line EVERY WEEKDAY went out the door. People would happily* wait 15 minutes in line to get our sandwiches. I am not exaggerating. This is because we made the best Subway sandwiches around. This owner wasn't stingy. We were instructed to make a U cut, never a V, because it made better sandwiches. There were lazy employees that would make the V and they would get chewed out. The U wasn't to trick the customer. It was a Subway signature.

*Very nice people those aero-space industry types.

nuthinboutnuthin
11-22-2003, 09:51 PM
mini hi-jack...

I dont particularly care how the sandwich is cut at this moment...

Right now I am more concerned with the fact that the Subways in my neck of the woods have forfugginggotten how to brown the bread...........!!

The bread is always WHITE on top!!! BLECHHHH!!!

They dont leave it in the oven long enough, (or there is something dreadfully wrong with all the Subway ovens within a 60 mile radius of me )....

A few times they were still gooey....... grossed me out.....

YES, I did complain, to one and all and some who didn't want to hear about it...

Is this another cost cutting measure too???

I love and adore Subway, >BMT to be exact, with everything,minus jalepenos,heavy onion,mustard &mayo,vinegar&oil,s&P,, but I refuse to buy another one around here until they turn the heat back up...

:mad:

I'm done now,
carry on........:)

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