Fast Food Feature: The Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt
I bet there’s some genius over at Frito-Lay behind all this fast food chip madness over the past several years. Perhaps he’s a stoner who lets his stomach and mind wander: “Duuude! What about THIS FLAVOR!?” Or maybe he’s the same marketing genius who invented some of the largely fictitious pop personalities like Ke$ha, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry. Regardless, this Don Draper of my imagination undoubtedly approached Subway several years back with the following idea: “Plenty of people like to eat chips with their sandwiches, so why don’t we just put the chips IN the sandwich for them!” But Subway — a company whose most adventurous decision was to sell $5 foot longs — must have turned them down. They would much rather go for a underpricing their sandwiches to increase volume while decreasing profits (the average $5 footlong only makes Subway $1 — seriously though, San Francisco even banned them because the profits were so minimal). So what did this modern day marketing champion do? He took the Dorito to Taco Bell, and now Subway is kicking itself in the ass…just hard enough to settle for some Frito’s instead. So they built a sandwich around them:
I’ll start this off by admitting that ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed crunching up Doritos into my Subway sandwiches. Cool Ranch Doritos and Subway’s Southwest Chipotle Sauce combined is a little pile of heaven. When I was in high school, the owner of the local Subway actually gave a huge bag of the sauce to my mother to give me for Christmas. I kid you not. It was a high point in my life.
But as a slightly more health-conscious adult, I’ve kicked the habit of packing a bag of chips into my subs. While Subway will undoubtedly never be able to manually stuff sandwiches with Doritos because of contractual ties between Doritos and Taco Bell, the idea of a Chicken Enchilada crunched up with Fritos piqued my interest quite a bit. So when the opportunity presented itself, I went for it.
It seems a crude insult to get anything less than the Jalapeno Cheese Bread with the Chicken Enchilada Melt. Much of the marketing for this sandwich pushes the flatbread, which makes sense given the largely Mexican flavor profile, but what the heck. It’s Jalapeno bread!
The chicken that they slap on is pre-mixed, much like their teriyaki or buffalo. The enchilada meat is pulled chicken instead of the typical julienned chunks. The enchilada chicken even has its own special spot in the tray.
When you request the Fritos Chicken Enchilada melt, there’s a bit of eye-rolling that happens because the prep work is greater than perhaps any other sandwich they have. Not only does your sandwich artist have to do the ceremonial heating of the meat and melting of the shredded cheddar (they don’t give you the chance to pick your own cheese!), but they also have to go into some back room and bring out a small bin full of Fritos. I’ve heard of some branches literally upturning a small bag of Fritos on top of your sandwich, which just seems wrong on so many levels.
Once the heated meat and melted cheese gets pelted with the Fritos corn flakes, it’s then doused in a layer of Southwest Sauce. This part confused me, but I went with it. When the sandwich finally makes its way to the veggie half of the Subway experience, it’s already full, and probably spilling out the sides. While I should have let my sandwich slinger off easy, I refused to listen to the angel on my shoulder and instead went with my annoyingly particular standard for veggies (almost everything but no pickles or jalapenos or olives — but don’t forget banana peppers or spinach).
The Unveiling & Eating
This is a girthy sandwich, to say the least. The rigid Fritos are a real consumer of space and they need a bit of mashing down to make the whole feat manageable. Picture an oversized burger. Now weep because this is not as delicious.
I’d imagine that additions like bacon and avocado would do well here, but traditional Subway veggies — especially the lettuce and tomato — are ill-suited for a Mexican flavor profile. They bring down the temperature and their dull flavor confuse the taste buds. The Jalapeno Cheese bread mostly held its own, but I reckon the less overpowering flatbread is ideal for this combo.
What you need to watch out for in this and any other sandwich with chips is that the sauce and moisture from other items are going to seep right into those chips and leave them soggy within a matter of minutes. You have to eat this sandwich fast if you want to enjoy it. For that reason, I would suggest sticking to the 6-inch. Otherwise, inches 8 through 12 will be rough indeed.
The enchilada sauce itself was pretty tasty, but also a little too mild for my liking. Despite my love for the Chipotle sauce, I almost would have preferred if they held off and just added more enchilada sauce instead. The inclusion of the Fritos was interesting, albeit largely forgettable
The Final Verdict
Subway’s Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt is fun to try for the novelty, but I don’t think I’ll ever order it again if it sticks around, which I highly doubt. If you’re in the mood for enchilada flavor, you could spend the same amount of money somewhere else for twice the pleasure. You might enjoy this sandwich if you like the idea of including chips in the whole affair, but it probably won’t impress you. Try it out if the concept tickles your fancy. You’ve got nothing to lose!
I admire Subway’s efforts at innovation in recent history, but this, coupled with their frightening “flatizza” business, is a step in the wrong direction. Subway is a sandwich shop in denial that used to excel with a simple, straightforward business. Even before the $5 footlong mishap, they were affordable. These days, they think they can do breakfast, Italian, Mexican, and Pizza all under one roof. They’re a one-man band without the skills or coordination to pull off a good show. They see McDonald’s add delicious coffee and Dunkin Donuts start offering more lunch- and dinner-like offerings, and they think, “Hey! We should branch out too!” They’ve seen Taco Bell go three flavors deep into the Doritos Locos Tacos, but Subway had to settle for nobody’s favorite chip ever: the Frito.