Curse of the ‘Subway smell’

By Troy Doetch

A disclaimer: I love Subway. The breads, the condiments, even the bagged avocado—I love it all. The story you’re about to read is a contemplation on a real phenomenon about which I remain conflicted. I am not endorsing that any student abstain from the world’s largest sandwich chain, ranked in the No. 1 spot in the “Top Service,” “Healthy Options” and “Most Popular,” categories in Zagat’s 2012 Fast Food Survey. A journalist, I report on the truths of the world: the sights, the sounds and even the smells.

Maria Evstatieva, senior political science major, was surprised by my question. As a barista at Coffee Corner, the university cafe just approximately 100 paces from Subway in the Holmes Student Center, Evstatieva knew all too well of the reality of Subway smell.

“I was just talking about that,” said Evstatieva, turning to her coworker, senior psychology major Jordan Moore. “Wasn’t I just talking about that?”

While Food Republic, Huffington Post and every person with a functional proboscis has commented on the dense fog of bread-smell that surrounds Subway restaurants, the phrase “Subway smell,” apparently coined by LightsOutBrant on in 2008, denotes the musk’s adhesive property. In short, if you eat at Subway, you smell like Subway.

This phenomenon is especially significant to NIU students for two reasons. First, our student center houses a Subway. Second, and more importantly, according to LightsOutBrant’s observational evidence, if you’re suffering from Subway smell, “chances of getting laid will diminish.”

But just in case, there are ways to avoid being a carrier of the Subway smell.

In the Holmes Student Center, the Subway smell is contained within an approximate 30-foot stretch. It begins faintly at the box office, grows stronger at its core, and drops off sharply where the hall opens to the stretch of booths leading to Coffee Corner. Moore said sitting within the Subway smell stretch is directly proportional to your Subway smell, but that coffee may be an effective antidote.

“It’s not so bad over here because the coffee’s so strong,” Moore said.

It should also be noted that dining at Subway does not directly lead to Subway smell; the amount of time spent in the stretch also factors in.

In fact, I spent 15 minutes in the core and my editor said I still “smell like that stuff you spray on.”

While I use Nautica Voyage, Subway sandwich artist Walter Smith said Old Spice is another effective treatment. There is no insider secret, Smith said.

“It’s just that it’s so strong,” Smith said, explaining that even though he wears plastic gloves, he can’t get the scent off his fingers. “Even when you enter the building, you can smell it.”

As of press time, Subway Public Relations had not returned my calls.