My cheese [tear drop] . . . she’s gone

By Brayton Cameron

When we last spoke, I told you all about the unfortunate loss of cheddar cheese at the local Subway, 901 Lucinda Ave., over by the Village Commons Bookstore. It would seem there is more to this story than I had previously imagined.

The answers to why the cheddar cheese was discontinued came to me in the form of an e-mail from Tom Nelson, the owner/operator of the Subway in question.

“All Subways are franchised but we are obligated to follow certain rules set up by our worldwide headquarters,” Nelson said. “One such rule is that each restaurant is only able to serve four different cheeses, and stores in all advertising markets must agree on which four they will serve.”

So it seems once again marketing and giant corporate bureaucracy ruins my life, or my lunch at least. However grim it seems having a large, distant, corporate structure deciding what cheese I eat, there is a bit of hope after all.

“Not too long ago, I guess that I was a ‘rebel’ and tried to get away with serving too many types,” Nelson said. “If you remember, my stores had American, provolone, Swiss, cheddar and shredded Monterrey cheddar.”

It was a nice feeling to know this whole time Nelson was on my side and I didn’t even know it. In a sense, I would call him heroic for fighting the fight against corporate cheese bigotry. However, even this silver lining has a cloud behind it – one which we are all aware of.

“I was forced to stop the Swiss and cheddar and made to carry pepper jack as my fourth type,” Nelson said.

Eventually “the man” finally broke our hero and he too had to conform to the ways of his corporate masters. It is unfortunate, yes. But more so it gives hope to all of us that we too can stand up to the corporations that oppress us.

Indeed it would be difficult to deny the actions of Nelson were anything less than heroic. He was but one man against a monolith of one of the largest fast food chains in all of America. He knew people liked cheese and he tried to give them more options than were allowed by the rules.

I am proud to dedicate this, my last column of the year, to Tom Nelson, who has shown me that even when the giants are breathing down your neck, you can still defy them. It may seem like just cheese to all of you out there, but to me, it is a fist in the face of the American capitalist system.

OK, really it’s just cheese, and it’s just a guy trying to run his restaurant the way he wants to. Which is still admirable, though not nearly as much as fighting for free cheese expression in these United States.

In the end, the battle was lost either way. The cheddar was taken away and pepper jack, which Nelson says is doing very well, replaced it. I suppose marketing is like war – there will always be casualties no matter what you’re fighting for.

In this case it is both my heart and taste buds.