For decades I’ve been trying to track down the rare footage of an obscure locally, broadcast Subway sandwiches commercial from 1995. And now through the tireless efforts of The Lost Media Wiki, some fellow YouTubers, as well as generous support from viewers like you, we’ve obtained the Lost Subway Commercial at last.
You may remember back in early 2019 when I released a mini-documentary called Absurd Mysteries: The Lost Subway Commercial, in which I described my search for an obscure piece of lost media from the 1990s. This was an experimental video of mine was made with poor audio quality recorded in my former attic, and had some awkward closeups. But nonetheless, my video covered my search for the elusive Lost Subway Commercial from the mid-90s!
For those of you new here, I’ll briefly recap: in around 1995 or 1996 when I was 11 years old in the 5th grade, living in my hometown of Lancaster, PA, our local TV stations used to air a bizarre and comical commercial for the sandwich chain Subway. What was so special about this particular commercial was that it was shot on video, used amateur actors, and had such poor production quality that it seemed more like a local ad than a regular national commercial.
The commercial’s plot was especially bizarre. It featured a fat, bald middle-aged man groveling in front of a Indian guru known as the “Great Seer”. The Bald Man asks the Great Seer to show him the ways of truth and perfection, and is told to take his hunger to “Subway subs.” The commercial was so irregular and laughable, that it was an inside joke around my friends and family at the time.
Over the years I searched extensively to find this commercial once again, but sadly could not locate the footage – despite scouring YouTube and Reddit to find obscure media and VHS transfers. Out of desperation, in early 2019 I created the previously-mentioned mini-documentary about the search, which was accompanied by an actual stop-motion LEGO animation, that served as a reenactment based on my memory of the commercial. I created this in the hopes that it would go viral and that hopefully someone would find the real commercial itself.
. . . Well, it worked!
In early 2021, I was contacted by The Lost Media Wiki who explained to me that they were featuring my search for the lost Subway commercial in one of their On the Hunt campaigns to thoroughly search for this footage. Subsequently around that time, I was contacted by a lost media channel called All Things Lost, which agreed to feature my search for the lost Subway commercial in their video for lost TV advertisements.
Several weeks went by without any new developments, until one day in April when a member of the Lost Media Wiki Discord surprisingly stumbled upon the actual lost Subway commercial on a random Instagram post. Apparently this Discord user was following someone on Instagram named @vidiot_savant who has an account for archiving obscure VHS rips – and this account coincidentally had an upload of the lost Subway commercial in his feed! Subsequently, the Discord user saved the video, uploaded it to YouTube, and sent me a message on Discord to break the urgent news on a Sunday night.
At first I thought it was a prank, but then I watched the YouTube video and the corresponding Instagram post. . . And watched them repeatedly. . . And laughed in joy! The commercial had been officially found! I then downloaded the video myself, uploaded it to Twitter, and tweeted it out myself. And thanks to retweets from big channels like Blameitonjorge and RebelTaxi, the video got plenty of exposure on social media.
As a lot of people pointed out in YouTube comments, my accuracy is pretty spot on with the dialogue and pacing, but I definitely misremembered the mountain setting and the background colors. Probably what happened is I saw the fog effects originally, and over time my brain filled in the blanks and caused me to remember the two men on a mountain top surrounded with clouds. Also I remembered the background being black, whereas in the real commercial it’s distinctly light colored. The montage portion was completely improvised by me: I had little memory of it apart from closeups of sandwiches along with the dissolving “PERFECTION” text. Now, I kind of correctly remembered the awkward ending with the bald man eating the sandwich – but I had absolutely no memory of him biting the sandwich sideways like a lunatic.
Now, back to the montage portion: I was also completely blindsided by the usage of the Pace picante sauce. I mean, I had absolutely no memory of this promotion at all; again, my memory of the commercial’s montage was fuzzy and I merely remembered closeups of sandwiches and toppings. With that said, I told some people on Discord that I have a theory that perhaps the commercial used interchangeable montage portions depending on region and promotions. For example, the specific commercial we found had a middle montage portion for the Pace picante sauce promotion, whereas the specific commercial I remember seeing as a kid had a different montage in the middle to promote another new flavor or topping.
If that’s the case, then this opens up a whole Pandora’s Box of mystery of just how many variations of this commercial exist. There could be a few, or even dozens of regional variations of this commercial which all contain the same footage of the two men on the mountain, but swap out the middle montage portion depending on region or new promotion. Or not. I could be wrong, and there could only be one version of this commercial which is the Pace picante sauce edition. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility of different versions of this commercial to exist in various regions, as according to multiple people on Reddit, they recalled seeing this commercial themselves in numerous U.S. states and Canadian provinces.
For you see, back in 2019, myself and several other people shared my original reenactment video on different subreddits like /r/TipOfMyTongue, /r/RBI, and /r/Mealtimevideos. A lot of people were interested in finding the real commercial, but a few other users claimed to have seen the commercial themselves – albeit in various U.S. states and Canadian provinces, instead of just localized to Central Pennsylvania. What’s even stranger is how some of them also distinctly remembered the commercial used in other sandwich chains like Mr. Sub and Quiznos. At that point, we came up with a possible theory that perhaps the commercial originated as a local advertisement for one of those aforementioned sandwich restaurants, but somehow the commercial got recycled for use with Subway, and they dubbed over some of the dialogue.
Another theory is that maybe whichever company filmed the commercial perhaps did multiple shoots with the same actors and location for similar commercials each advertising different places like Quizno’s and Mr. Sub – and that those variant commercials were used all throughout the country and even as far as Canada. If that’s the case, then there could be numerous other variations of this exact commercial’s premise. Who knows.
Well, the important thing is, we found the actual commercial, and I disproved all of the naysayers who assumed my original LEGO reenactment video was a viral marketing stunt to astroturf a new meme – I guess to promote a new sandwich brand. Well, it obviously wasn’t. And believe me, I wish it were a real viral marketing stunt from Subway, because at the time I originally made my video in 2019, I was in between jobs and completely broke – therefore getting some fat checks in the mail from Subway’s corporate offices would have been absolutely wonderful at that time. Believe me.
And in conclusion: for the Bald Man, for the Great Seer, for the wonderful folks at Subway, for the hard working ladies and gentlemen at Lost Media Wiki, and for those of you on YouTube who supported this search – here’s to you. . .