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Subway is expanding its menu with more footlong snacks

<i>Subway via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Subway is expanding its menu with more footlong snacks.
Subway via CNN Newsource
Subway is expanding its menu with more footlong snacks.

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN

New York (CNN) — Subway’s footlong cookies were so popular they had a shortage. Now, the chain is hoping to replicate that success with savory new companions.

Beginning Tuesday, three new 12-inch long additions are arriving, called Dippers. They use Subway’s flatbread, rolled up with pepperoni and cheese, chicken and cheese or double cheese, and served hot. The $3 rollups are part of its Sidekicks menu, adding to its successful lineup of giant cookies, churros and soft pretzels.

Value is a major factor in the expansion of Sidekicks. Many fast food chains are releasing new menu items and discounts to lure back cash-strapped consumers, especially low-income consumers who are dining out less often and spending less when they do.

Sidekicks and Dippers were born out of the chain seeing younger customers’ preference for snacking, according to Douglas Fry, Subway’s North America president, who said they want “convenient, hand-held, grab-and-go” food at an affordable price.

“We know that the economic climate has started to shift,” Fry told CNN. He observed that customers have “been sacrificing quantity and quality,” and that Subway offers a “great value proposition of great-tasting food that’s made fresh and is available for a variety of budgets.”

Dippers are a cost-efficient addition for Subway, using existing ingredients like flatbread from its recently unveiled wraps lineup and the meats and cheeses already used in its sandwiches.

Subway’s new Sidekicks lineup is a key part of its turnaround plans, which includes a number of other changes to its menus as part of its efforts to keep up with rivals. Since the January launch, Fry said the chain has sold more than 30 million snacks, priced from $2 to $5, and “probably would have sold more” if it wasn’t for the cookie shortage.

The addition of Sidekicks “makes sense,” said David Henkes, senior principal at Technomic, previously telling CNN that Subway needs to increase revenue somewhere since fast food customers have begun pushing back on price increases amid overall inflation.

“They’ve underperformed in the sandwich segment, so they need to shake things up a little bit and drive some incremental traffic,” Henkes said. Technomic data shows that Subway also lags in sales for sides and snacks compared to its competitors.

In recent years, Subway has added customization to its menu, doubled down on pushing orders to its app, increased its international presence and introduced freshly sliced meats — a major shift from Subway’s previous method of delivering cold cuts pre-sliced.

Another major hurdle for Subway is it its dwindling store count: The chain closed more than 400 restaurants in the US in 2023, finishing the year with its smallest number of US restaurants (20,133) since 2005.

Owned by Roark Capital, a privately held company, Subway doesn’t regularly release financial figures. The private equity firm holds investments in a number of large restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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