I still remember the reaction my mother, who seldom eats out at restaurants, had when I took her to a Jimmy John’s. “Really,” she asked, “this is what I just paid $6.00 for?” At the time, her comment seemed silly and, considering that my girlfriend was with us, a little embarrassing. Despite this, she raised a good question. In Campustown there are a dozen or so sandwich shops, including three different JJ’s. I have been guilty a hundred times over of buying these simple, overpriced and addicting sandwiches — but why?
To be honest, the greatest sandwich I have ever had was the last slice of bread at the end of a loaf that I smeared with peanut butter and ate like a taco one night when I came home from the bars. One day, one of my roommates ordered a JJ’s sandwich that, contrary to its slogan, did not arrive “freaky fast,” so he had to resort to making his own sandwich. It took all of three minutes and looked as good as anything I’ve eaten from any sandwich shop. “You know,” he said once his JJ’s had arrived, “this kind of sucks compared to the one I made.”
I understand that this opinion isn’t shared by most people on campus, so I went to the JJ’s website looking for an answer — and maybe a number five with peppers. The website, which many people use to have their sandwiches delivered, makes looking up, ordering and paying spectacularly easy. The online menu does a great job of making all their sandwiches sound very appealing. According to the official Jimmy John’s website, a number three has house-made tuna mixed with celery, onions and sauce, topped with alfalfa sprouts, cucumbers, lettuce and tomato. As I pondered over the ingredients, I imagined some frat boy thinking to himself late at night, “Wow, tuna with alfalfa sprouts — that’s healthy, right?” As though the fish and the small amount of veggies will somehow combat the twelve beers that he had slammed at the bars.
Jimmy John’s is not the only option available for sandwich delivery. As University of Illinois senior Meghan Beary put it, “I like Subway because it’s warm, and I can’t just go out to the store and buy all the ingredients.” It seems that many people like the bread selection of Subway and the fact that you can get a twelve-inch sandwich for a little over five dollars. As University of Illinois student Danny Cook puts it, “Subway is better than anything I can ever make myself at home.”
Perhaps the answer is inability. Many people don’t have the ingredients lying around their apartment to make a great sandwich, and even if they did, many do not have the ability to make it in the first place. Perhaps the prospect of locking some meat, or mix of meats, between two slices of bread with whatever toppings they want seems too overwhelming for some people. Is it just laziness? Or does the five minutes that it takes to put a good sandwich together just too much time to spare in our busy lives? Perhaps the sandwiches are just as good as we tell ourselves they are when we take a second to consider how much money we have spent on them over the semester. Whatever the reason is, the sandwiches keep being made, and we keep ordering them. Whether you like the quickness that Jimmy John’s offers, or whether you like the options and taste of a Subway sub, or if you like something less corporate like the sandwiches offered at Torticas on Green Street, the truth is that there is always something out there for everyone. Taking a stroll down Green Street, you would have a hard time not being overwhelmed by the array of different options available. Perhaps this is the main reason why so many people choose these fast food sandwiches every single day. Plus, as University of Illinois student Ivan Hanold puts it while sitting in the Union, “They’re pretty convenient. I mean, I can’t just go home right now and make a sandwich.”