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Even Subway’s Meatball Marinara Subs Are Going Meatless

Plus, the maker of AriZona iced tea dives into weed, and more news to start your day

A subway sandwich with four plant-based meatballs, covered in marinara sauce and mozzarella.
Beyond Meatball Marinara sub.
Photo: Subway

Subway is testing a Beyond Meat sub

Subway is the latest chain to hop on the fake-meat trend, starting with a plant-based version of its Meatball Marinara sub made with Beyond Meat’s first-ever meatball. Starting in September, the “Beyond Meatball Marinara” will be available in 685 restaurants in Canada and the U.S. for a limited time, as Subway tests the appetite for its new meatless meat sandwich.

Subway, the world’s largest fast-food chain by number of stores, has struggled over the past few years. Per CNBC:

In 2016, Subway closed more restaurants than it opened and has since accelerated the pace of closures. In 2018, it shuttered more than 1,100 U.S. locations, bringing its total number of U.S. stores to fewer than 25,000, according to franchise disclosure documents.

Amid underperformance issues and ongoing lawsuits from former franchisees accusing the chain of closing their stores through alleged aggressive tactics like rigged inspections, Subway has ramped up its collaborations, in the past month announcing partnerships with Halo Top for a milkshake, King’s Hawaiian for bread, and now Beyond Meat for a sub. It remains to be seen if collaborations like these are the key to wooing customers, but if Burger King’s initial Impossible Whopper test — which boosted foot traffic by 18.5 percent in April — is any indication, the Beyond Meatball Marinara likely can’t hurt.

And in other news…

  • The maker of AriZona Iced Tea is getting into weed, starting with vape pens and marijuana-laced gummies and drinks. [WSJ]
  • Tyson’s new plant-based nuggets are launching in 4,000 stores by the end of September. [Food Dive]
  • Why did Shake Shack finally cave and decide to start delivering with Grubhub? The promise of data sharing was apparently the lure. [Restaurant Business]
  • In other Shake Shack news, the chain’s new Chick’n Bites are costing the company a lot of money and could potentially be on the chopping block unless “it’s something … people continue to come back for,” says CEO Randy Garutti. [Markets Insider]
  • Domino’s U.K. has spent millions stockpiling imported ingredients that might not be available if Brexit gets even more chaotic. [CNN]
  • Many vegans and vegetarians stopped eating meat out of respect for animal life and the environment. Some then became butchers for that same reason. [NYT]
  • Fran Lebowitz remembers Toni Morrison’s love of dessert, and the time she took a cab to a restaurant five blocks away. [The Paris Review]
  • A look back at the now-defunct tradition of presenting the first Atlantic salmon to the POTUS. [The New Yorker]
  • Researchers, studying 400,000 Amazon reviews of food and drinks, found that a lot of customer complaints were about food being too sweet. [New Food Economy]
  • Melissa McCarthy went on James Corden’s show and showed off all the weird cakes she’s made for her kids. [YouTube]

All AM Intel Coverage [E]