Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Slanderous sandwiches

The New York Times asks a highly important legal question: Can a sandwich be slandered?

To précis the article, Quiznos asked people to create advertisements for the chain, with a key theme of attacking their rival, Subway.

Subway decided this was defamatory and has sued.

The knotty legal question in this is whether Quiznos is liable for the actions of third parties.

Other interesting questions centre on competition, and whether you can make any direct claims in reference to your rivals in ads. That’s pretty interesting given that you hardly ever see companies engaging in that sort of outright warfare – think of the Duracell battery or laundry powder ads which like to euphemistically refer to “other leading brands”.

A further point would be whether the terms and conditions of entry involved an assignment of intellectual property rights from competitors to Quiznos – if so, one could argue that they had more control over the content and thus its (allegedly) defamatory distribution.

In any case, let’s get to the nuts and bolts here. In my (non-legal but tastebuds-intact) opinion, both companies are probably responsible for bringing the noble sandwich into disrepute. That distinctive sickly sweet miasma which wafts out of thousands of Subways across the world bespeaks of sugary bread and additives. It’s hard to compare Quiznos, because I think they only have one branch (or had) in Melbourne, but I can’t imagine it would be much better.

[Disclaimer: I have not personally eaten at either establishment, as – with Subway at least – I am generally overcome with nausea when I walk past.]

Compare a fast food offering with the following:
  • Bagel. Cream cheese/ricotta. Gherkins/shaved red onion, capers, pepper, smoked salmon, lemon juice and dill or chives;
  • Baker D. Chirico pagnotta. Perfectly ripe brie or chevre. Fresh grapes or dried muscatels on the side;
  • Dark rye batard, e.g. from Laurent. Thinly sliced, topped with cream cheese or ricotta, followed by the sourest, cherry-est sour cherry jam you can find.

Now those are sandwiches. And anything else is an abomination unto Lucullus or an insult to the goodly variations permitted by a loaf of real bread and a few, carefully selected toppings.

Tis Subway which brings the noble sandwich into disrepute!

That said, I sort of see what Nigel Slater and Nigella Lawson mean when they note the odd, rather naff pleasure of Laughing Cow cheese (aka “Moo Cheese”) and sliced bread…

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Mmm.. I love dark rye bread! My local bakery does a nice soft one that I adore.

xox Sarah