The Real Reason People Stopped Buying Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt

Twitter user @BringCrunchBack spent over two years sharing monthly requests to bring back the Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt. Since 2018, this account was dedicated to nothing but this food quest (via Twitter). Posting back in February 2020, the account said, "Sometimes I can go an entire day without thinking about the #ChickenEnchiladaMelt. Wait, a day is longer than two hours? nevermind. @SUBWAY @SubwayListens." In a reply along these same lines, Subway themselves answered, "We feel this on a deep level."

This elusive sandwich was only available for a limited time in 2014 (via Herald Extra), but the fan following for the sandwich is truly dedicated. So just what exactly was a Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt anyway?

According to Subway, the foot-long (or smaller) includes, "tender pulled chicken and authentic enchilada sauce with Fritos corn chips on top" (via YouTube). Pictured, you can see suggested additions of lettuce, tomato, onions, black olives, jalapeño, and cheese assembled on a flatbread instead of the traditional sub sandwich loaf.

Cruncha muncha, cruncha muncha, Fritos on my sub

With a catchy tagline like, "Cruncha muncha, cruncha muncha, Fritos on my sub" how can anyone forget this highly memorable food special? Even better, the commercials starred Superstore favorite Jon Barinholtz who plays our back-of-the-house favorite Marcus White (via iSpot TV). One reviewer describes the sandwich as having an enjoyable amount of Monterey cheddar and an enchilada sauce that has, "legit flavor and burst," according to Herald Extra

Superfan Twitter account @BringCrunchBack advises, "You cant get too many toppings on a #ChickenEnchiladaMelt, you'll over complicate the flavors and take away from what really matters" and notes that while of course there's a bread choice (it is Subway, after all), you really need to pick the flatbread. "Anyone who gets their #ChickenEnchiladaMelt on anything other than flatbread is a monster."

Honestly, it seems like everyone loved this gimmicky snack. In 2018, one supporter of the bring it back movement for this menu item shared, "You're fighting the good fight my friend. #ChickenEnchiladaMelt is the best sub they've ever made. Needs to be a permanent part of their menu!" (via Twitter). Essentially, the only reason people stopped buying the beloved Fritos Crunchy Enchilada Melt because Subway quickly removed it from the menu.

Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt had stiff competition

With such a dedicated fan following, you might wonder why Subway doesn't bring these crunchy lunch mashups back. We're not executives, but we do have some good guesses. The Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt launched to test audiences in 2013 before going national (via HuffPost). This launch coincided with the meteoric rise of the Taco Bell and Frito-Lay mashup, the Doritos Locos Taco (via HuffPost). It's entirely possible that the market only had room for one Mexican-American chip-filled entree. If so, the Mexican-inspired restaurant is likely to have an edge in this competition.

Another thought is just that the melt does not meet Subway's health image. Unlike the majority of Subway sandwiches, this one is a sodium and calorie bomb. According to Herald Extra, reviewers have shared that the listed nutritional information included a calorie count of 1,160 (for a footlong), with 52 grams of fat, 2,340 milligrams of sodium, and 120 grams of carbs. In slightly more positive news, the sandwich also had 14 grams of dietary fiber and 50 grams of protein. For a company that prides itself on "eating fresh" — this definitely wasn't a fit.

Frito-Lay and Subway are different organizations

Yet the reason people can't buy the Fritos melt anymore may be more strongly related to the bottom line — money. Subway and PepsiCo's Frito-Lay are separate companies. While Frito-Lay also sells household names like Lay's and Ruffles, its operating budget and costs are different than those of a Subway franchise. Franchises, of which there are about 10,000 in the U.S., have long struggled with their parent company's $5 Footlong special (via L.A. Times). A traditional 12-inch sandwich uses about $2 worth of ingredients, and another $2-3 in costs for labor, rent, and utilities involved in keeping the restaurant open.

And Fritos are a name brand. When's the last time you asked a restaurant what brand of iceberg lettuce it was feeding you? Brand names cost money, and Fritos in particular have experienced numerous increases (via NPR). In 2018, Fritos-eaters noticed some significant price increases in their corn chips — a fact which may have made the relaunch of this sandwich prohibitive. Instead, it seems that Fritos and Subway have continued to work together but keep their foods separate, with exclusive snack and drink contracts around the world (via DNA India).

Money is often the ultimate answer, although only Subway and Frito-Lay know for sure. No matter why it's gone, one dedicated fan will continue the good fight to get their sandwich back. In their own words, "the #ChickenEnchiladaMelt is the only thing that matters in life" (via Twitter).