The worst foods to order from your favorite sandwich shop

We've all heard the horror stories of the cringe-worthy things that go on behind the scenes of our favorite fast food places, and unfortunately, your go-to sandwich spot is most likely included in those anecdotes.

Whether you're noshing at Subway, Jimmy John's, or Jersey Mike's, you might run into some questionable fare, and according to these Redditors who claim to be in the know — current and former employees and managers — there are certain things you really should avoid when ordering. Of course this is the internet, and for every shocking tale you can find another one saying the opposite, so keep in mind that these stories might pertain to a particular location or franchise. Just keep your fingers crossed that your local deli chain is 100 percent on the up and up.

The good news is sandwiches are super easy to make, so if you're really turned off by what you're about to read, you can always make your own to avoid the three-day-old meatballs and cheese that doesn't decompose.

The "oven-roasted" chicken at Subway

Most of us probably don't expect the finest free-range, air-chilled, organic chicken when we hit Subway, but according to these sandwich artists (yes, that's actually what they're called) their oven-roasted chicken is problematic for more reasons than one.

For starters, the chicken comes pre-cooked (possibly that's the oven roasting they tout?) in giant vacuum-packed bags, which is likely not all that unusual when it comes to the meat served at fast food chains. But then it gets boiled in the microwave before it hits your sandwich — probably not the optimal cooking method for tender chicken. Surprisingly, though the meat is clearly cooked to death, there are plenty of complaints of said chicken still being pink. How is that even possible?

If you're still thinking the chicken doesn't sound so bad, another employee was horrified to find bugs of some sort in the bag. They surmised they were inchworms, but no matter what kind of insect it was, they sure didn't belong with the chicken.

The chicken at Jersey Mike's

This former Jersey Mike's employee has plenty to say about their chicken, and none of it is good: "Don't get the chicken parm from Jersey Mike's. It's the only thing they have that's 100% microwaved. They even microwave the bread from the day before to make it soft and use up all their old product. Everything chicken at Jersey Mike's is cheap rib meat and miscellany mashed up into a patty. See those grill marks? Painted on at the factory."

The Gourmet Veggie Club at Jimmy John's

Sometimes you should avoid a certain sandwich just for the shocking amount of calories, fat, and sodium it contains. At Jimmy John's you might think you're choosing a lighter option when you order the Gourmet Veggie Club, but you would be wrong. Thanks in part to eight slices of provolone cheese, this hefty vegetarian delight is the second most caloric choice on their menu, coming in at around 1000 calories (depending on the bread), up to 65 grams of fat, and up to 1940 grams of sodium. The only sandwich to out-calorie the veggie club? The J.J. Gargantuan.

Sandwiches at Quiznos, especially when you have a coupon

Here's another example that won't make your skin crawl, but it sure is sketchy. A former Quiznos employee says, "My boss told us to skim on everything. Take off at least an inch for each size breads, put less meat, put less veggies, less sauce. When we had coupons, she'd take off meat after they'd pay if she didn't see them in their hands beforehand." Let's hope this isn't standard practice, but it's probably not a bad idea to keep an eye on your sandwich while it's being made, just in case.

The wheat bread from Subway at the end of the day

Subway proudly proclaims that their bread is made fresh daily, but that doesn't mean some choices aren't better than others. According to one employee, "The regular brown bread gets dry fast… Coming down to the end of the day [you should] run from the sandpaper wheat bread." They do note that "if it's fresh all the bread is good," so if you're eating with the lunch crowd you're probably safe, but you might want to take a pass if you're making a late-night sub run.

Meatball sandwiches from Subway

Bad news for meatball sandwich lovers: The Subway Meatball Marinara gets regularly trashed by sandwich artists in these tell-all Reddit threads, and they all seem to be on the same page when it comes to the handling of said meatballs.

One employee states, "If the store you go to is a relatively quiet one, probably best to avoid the meatballs. I've worked in 4 different stores, not one of them stuck to the rule of keeping meatballs out for a maximum of 4 hours and NEVER reheating them. They go out in the morning, back in the fridge at night, and back out the next day."

Another similarly writes, "I worked a summer at a popular sandwich chain. Now overall it was really, really clean and they were very strict about hygiene. It was also just generally not a bad place to work. However, don't ever get the meatball sub unless you see the employee take it from the back. When it sits out all day it gets really gross, and they put it in the fridge at night and just reheat it at lunch the next day. I have had the responsibility of 'stirring the film off the top' on more than one occasion."

And yet another says, "The meatballs gross me out but only because they sit in that hot bay and just get water added in when they get gross looking."

Who else gagged a little at "stirring the film off the top"?

The sauces at Subway

Questionable cleaning standards and improper sanitation come up a lot, and this one has to do with those bottles of sauce that sit at the Subway counter all day. 

One sandwich artist was asked in a Reddit AMA, "What is something about the food or operations that shocked you and that no customer would ever know?" They replied, "NOT AT MY STORE. but i had an employee who came from a different franchised Subway, and he told me at his store they never washed sauce bottles, just refilled it with more sauce. Which is gross if you have weeks old mayo just stuck to the side of the bottle and you're putting new mayo inside…"

Nobody wants a dry sandwich, but right about now they're not sounding so bad.

Mystery meat

By now we're all aware that processed cold cuts aren't necessarily the purest meat you can buy, so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the offerings at Subway and Which Wich might not be exactly what you think they are.

According to one Subway employee, "…the turkey is 60% turkey, the rest being chicken and turkey flavoring. Also the seafood sensation has no crab in it, it's just colouring to make it orange and flavoring to make it taste like crab. It's actually fish."

A Which Wich employee echoes the sentiment saying, "…the turkey, chicken, and ham are all that recompostitioned meat like chicken mcnuggets. It's not bad, I still eat the chicken, but the ham and turkey are a little slimy for my taste."

The "triangle cheese" at Subway

Along with mystery meat apparently comes mystery cheese. One disgruntled Subway customer asks, "What the hell is in the cheese? I mean the 'secret ingredient/ingredients'? I dropped a piece of cheese in my driveway, here in florida, and I am lazy, so I didn't pick it up. I thought 'something' would eat it within a day or two. It stayed intact for over 3 months, in the 80 degree florida sunshine and no animal, insect, bacteria would touch it. I don't know about the shredded cheese there, maybe that's okay, but I will never eat Subway 'triangle cheese' again!"

Remember those infamous ice cream sandwiches that wouldn't melt? Perhaps the same phenomenon is at work here…

The antipasto salad at Winn-Dixie

If you're grabbing your sandwich from the neighborhood Winn-Dixie deli counter, you might want to think twice about the antipasto salad. One deli worker confesses, "We sold an Antipasto salad that was just made up of the ends of all the lunchmeats and cheeses we didn't sell. They were usually expired, but we cut them up in cubes, and cover them in Italian dressing." 

The mayo at Subway

As if the never-cleaned sauce bottles weren't enough, things get even dicier when it comes to the mayonnaise. One former Subway sandwich artist says, "We used to get our food shipments from a major distributor. We'd get our mayo in enormous bags. I started to notice in many bags that there were these lumps that got thrown away. One day I picked one out to examine. It was spongy and kind of yellowy. We began referring to this as the mayonnaise meat."  

The good news is that if the mayonnaise meat makes it into the squeeze bottle, it probably can't get through the nozzle, so your sub should be chunk free.

Toasted bread

To ensure you're getting the freshest bread, use this hack from a savvy Redditor: "If a sandwich shop asks if you want it toasted before they begin making it, it's so they can use day-old stale bread. If you want it toasted, say 'no' and wait until they make the sandwich then tell them that you changed your mind and want it toasted after all."

The salads at Panera

Panera offers a huge menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. Maybe it's too much to expect that EVERY dish be perfect?

These former employees warn that customers should stay away from the salads. One dishes, "Worked at panera for awhile doing prep. I was forced to cut moldy tomatoes on a weekly basis to use in salads." And another says, "Former Panera person here. Be careful when you order a salad. Chances are that lettuce has been in there for a few days. Same with the avocados, which we usually just throw into a cold dish."

Ice from anywhere

No matter where you're grabbing a sandwich, it sounds like you're better off getting a bottle of soda, no ice.

One fast food employee spills, "Last time my old job cleaned the ice machine, some unidentifiable black sludge came out of it…" To which an unfortunate customer responds, "I once pulled some of that black sludgey mold through a straw straight into my mouth at a Subway…"

And it's not just the black sludge you have to watch out for either. A former Silver Mine Subs employee says, "I think the grossest/weirdest things were probably the ice machines. (I always was extra careful to inspect the ice, before filling it, because I found quite a few frozen bugs in there.)"

Perhaps this former Jimmy John's employee can offer some insight as to why ice machines are the most disgusting thing in a restaurant: "I worked at a Jimmy John's for over a year. The ice machine was washed exactly once while I worked there, when the district manager discovered mold growing inside. The ice dispensers for the soda machines were never cleaned as far as I'm aware."

Ah, that explains it.

The tea at Jimmy John's

In a revelation that will have you sticking to water only (and definitely hold the ice, please), a Jimmy John's employee spills, "Don't get the tea at night. The opening manager brews the tea at 5am and it sits all the way until we close at 10pm. It has a hold time of 8 hours, but we never brew more than one a day unless we run out (which is rare). By the time we dump it at night, it has a thick, syrupy consistency and spells absolutely horrible."