Why John Oliver Just Called Out Subway

John Oliver is one of the richest late night hosts on television, so chances are, he probably doesn't eat at affordable sandwich chain Subway too often. But that hasn't kept the star from placing the chain under a microscope. On a recent segment of his show "Last Week Tonight," Oliver put the company on blast for more than just the signature smell of its restaurants, which have an odor Oliver described as "What if bread could fart?" (via YouTube).

Instead, Oliver had a bone to pick with the way the chain treats its franchise operators. He's not the first to notice the chain has a problem. Back in 2019, Business Insider reported that Subway's franchise system was flawed, and according to their research, the problem reached all the way back to the 1990s. But apparently, things haven't changed much over the past couple of years, and Oliver wanted to bring the issue to light in hopes of helping out beleaguered franchisees — while poking some light fun at the chain's food.

Subway's franchise rules allegedly create competition

In the "Last Week Tonight" episode in question, John Oliver first compiled several news clips about other issues Subway has faced in recent years, from lawsuits over Subway's tuna sandwiches and claims its bread isn't really bread, to legal action taken because the chain's footlong subs were found to not be a full foot in length. But according to Oliver, Subway has some even more serious issues to face.

So what exactly is the problem? According to Oliver, Subway is basically allowing people to open too many franchise locations. When there are too many Subways in one area, each location starts to cannibalize the others' sales, and eventually, the company is left with failing franchises that end up having to close, and former employers who are now without work. It's not a small number, either — according to Oliver, the chain has had to close thousands of locations. To make his point about the chain's self-cannibalizing franchise plan, Oliver presented the studio audience with a platter of Subway sandwiches purchased from 10 different franchise locations — all within one mile of the studio address. In a Reddit post about the episode, one former employee agreed with Oliver's take on the issue. "I worked at Subway for a number of years and it really is terrible," they said. "The only people who do well are those who can afford to own SEVERAL stores." Otherwise, apparently it's just not worth the bread.