Jan 18, 2024 - Business

Subway’s new footlong snacks fill Costco churro void

Subway Sidekicks, footlong snacks that include pretzels, churros and cookies

Subway Sidekicks include a new footlong cookie, Cinnamon Churro and Auntie Anne's pretzel. Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Subway

Subway is looking to capitalize on America's growing snacking appetite with three new footlong snacks that hit restaurants nationwide Jan. 22.

Why it matters: Snacks make up about a quarter of what Americans eat in a day with 90% of people eating one to three snacks, according to a recent report in the journal Nutrients.

  • The $186.4 billion snacking industry makes up nearly 27% of the nation's food and beverage sales, according to SNAC International's 2023 state of the industry report.

What's happening: The largest U.S. fast-food chain by number of locations is rolling out its "Subway Sidekicks" lineup with 12-inch long cookies, churros and pretzels.

  • Subway developed the cookie on its own and teamed up with Focus Brands' Cinnabon and Auntie Anne's for the churro and pretzel.

Context: The new collaboration between the companies comes months after Subway agreed in August to be acquired by Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital Partners, which controls Focus Brands along with Arby's, Dunkin' and other restaurant chains.

  • Subway and Focus Brands officials told Axios that they started working together on the new menu items more than a year ago, before talks of the sale to Roark.

What they're saying: "Grazing and snacking is on the rise really across our consumer base," Douglas Fry, president of Subway North America, told Axios. "This is a whole new category for us."

  • "Footlong and Subway will always be synonymous," Dave Mikita, Focus Brands president of international and retail channels, told Axios. "Our ability to riff on that in a high-quality way I think only benefits both."

The big picture: Restaurant brands occasionally partner with each other to develop exclusive menu items even if they compete in some areas.

  • McDonald's and Krispy Kreme continue to test doughnuts at Louisville, Lexington restaurants in a small test that was expanded in 2023 to about 160 locations.
  • Cinnabon also has an item on the menu at Taco Bell, Applebee's and Pizza Hut restaurants, Mikita said.

By the numbers: Subway has around 21,000 U.S. locations and nearly 37,000 restaurants in 100 countries worldwide.

  • Cinnabon has about 1,000 U.S. locations and Auntie Anne's has 1,300, according to store locator websites.

Subway Sidekicks menu and prices

Details: The three Subway Sidekicks are served warm and are available at some locations ahead of the Jan. 22 launch, including in Chicago. Prices and availability can vary by location.

  • Cinnabon Footlong Churro ($2) has 190 calories and is topped with Cinnabon's Makara cinnamon and sugar.
  • Auntie Anne's Footlong Pretzel ($3) has 330 calories and is served with Subway's Honey Mustard but other sauces can be requested. Some restaurants may charge for sauce.
  • Footlong Cookie ($5) is 1,440 calories, but can always be shared. The chocolate chip cookie was developed by Subway.

Of note: Subway sells approximately 750 million cookies per year globally, the company shared with Axios.

Subway churro timing

The timing of Subway's new churro comes after Costco replaced its churros with a new double chocolate chunk cookie at its U.S. food courts.

  • Dave Mikita, Focus Brands president of international and retail channels, told Axios there seems to be energy around churros because of what's going on at Costco.
  • "If you want a churro, you have 21,000 places plus to find one now with the Cinnabon brand," Mikita said. "We'll gladly take those consumers from Costco and push them over to Subway."

Churros are also the "fastest growing dessert item on menus," Paul Fabre, Subway's senior vice president of culinary and innovation, told Axios.

  • "We knew we had to have a churro and what better than a footlong churro," Fabre said.

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