Takeaway Truth: Subway Flatbread Italian BLT

Takeaway Truth: Subway Flatbread Italian BLT
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Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. On today’s menu: Subway’s Italian BLT Flatbread sub.

Fast food restaurants have been known to gild the lily when it comes to accurate depictions of their menu items. Far too often, the mouth-watering feast on the poster turns out to be a limp and oily morsel. In a bid to keep the fry-jockey overlords honest, we’ve decided to document the reality of fast food — it was either that, or go postal like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

Subway seems pretty proud of its Italian BLT Flatbread. The new sandwich currently adorns the company’s website masthead and is also the profile pic on its Facebook page; an honour that few (if any) new menu items receive. Clearly, the company is pretty chuffed with how the Italian BLT Flatbread looks and isn’t afraid to crow about it. But does its delectable appearance on the poster translate to reality? Or will it leave you feeling (wait for it) flat? That’s what we’re here to find out!

As its name implies, the Flatbread Italian BLT takes a regular sub and substitutes the bread for a thinner Lavash-style alternative. Here’s the Subway pitch as it appears on its website:

“We think everything is getting smaller these days…thinner, lighter, flatter. So we figured it was about time that our favourite lunch caught on with the trend? Our new toasted flatbread is here… It’s the perfect option for whatever food mood you’re in! Try your favourite sub on it today or give it a whirl with our new oven roasted chicken, and you’ve got it made with just 8 grams of fat or less!”

And here’s the official video:

As we noted in our Taste Test article, the Flatbread sub isn’t actually healthier than a regular sub despite strong implications of a “lighter” meal. Indeed, it’s actually worse for you in almost every area.

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An unadorned six-inch flatbread contains 1120 kilojoules of energy and 44.5 grams of carbohydrates, while a six-inch white bread sub contains 804kj and 34g worth of carbs. That’s a pretty significant difference.

The flatbread also packs in more than double the amount of fat (5.1g vs. 2.4g), more sodium (332mg vs. 296mg) and less dietary fibre (1.8g vs. 2.2g). In fact, the only area where it beats the white bread sub is sugar; the flatbread contains 1.8 grams while the white sub has 3.3g.

In a way, the Flatbread Italian BLT has already failed the truth test before we even judge its appearance; the advertisement clearly hints that the flatbread is a healthier alternative which is plainly untrue. The blaggards.

To test the visual fidelity of the Flatbread Italian BLT, we ordered one from a Subway store in Blaxland and instructed the sandwich artist to use the same ingredients as the poster.

Here’s how they look side-by-side (for added authenticity, I also tried to replicate the same shit-eating grin):

The most immediate difference is the size of the sub, although to be fair, this is partly due to a slightly different perspective. That said, there’s clearly some digital trickery going on in the left image — the bloke would have to be packing extendable Inspector Gadget arms to get the sub that far away from his body.

Even when allowing for camera distance, the ingredients are definitely less plentiful in the real sandwich. The fillings in the advertisement are practically exploding out of the sub — is it just us, or does it look like they doubled the meat? (While this is a genuine menu option, the poster makes no mention of this fact.)

In any event, it can’t be denied that the sub on the right is flatter and sadder looking sandwich, despite the ruggedly handsome Adonis in the background.

Truth Rating: 6/10


  • It might be how they’ve sort of folded up the salami in their advertising image that makes it seem a bit more well-filled, while in the real sandwich the salami is lying flat.

    • That seems to be the main difference here, everything is flat and compact in the real thing as apposed to the light and airy promo picture. You can see how lightly the model in the ad is grasping the product. where as Chris’s looks like he sat on it during the ride back to the office.

      Exactly the same contents just different presentation.

  • Yeah it also looks to me that the promotional pic just has salami that’s folded over, making the sandwich look taller. But I would have thought it’s better to have a sandwich you don’t potentially have to dislocate your jaw on in order to put it in your mouth.

    Also I’m surprised Chris didn’t take any other pics of the sandwich from different angles, to show what the bread looks like and whether it’s anything like what it looks like on the ad.

    And I think it’s somewhat unfair to mark it down for “lying” about it being healthy. It didn’t make any claims about being healthier and I myself would interpret the “lighter” tag by the flat bread being less bulky than the regular bread.

  • I’ve sent his point made before; Have you tried to take the item you were served and make it look like the promotional photo? If so how close can you get it?

  • Don’t forget the promo sub is built to look like that, all those pieces are stacked perfectly and held together with glue. Even in the adverts on TV they look fuller, the people holding them never eat them and the way they hold them if done in the real world would result in having fillings falling on the floor. Obviously by folding the salami and pepperoni in half would also make it appear fuller.

    The subs I usually get served up look alright, but the sauce is always escaping which never seems to happen in the promo shots haha

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