The Quiznos ad campaigns in the early 2000s were bizarre and borderline unsettling. They were also amazing. In one commercial, a man is criticized for eating a non-Quiznos sub. “What were you, raised by wolves?” he asks the tiny-sandwich-eating man. The commercial then cuts to the same man suckling on a wolf’s teat in a forest. “Yes. I was,” he responds.
And of course, there were the misshapen rat-like animals in top hats with pronounced, human gums and mangled teeth. They were called “Spongmonkeys,” and people have described them as “gerbils with birth defects; Mr. Potato Rats; drug-addled, castrato hamsters; and ‘hell lemurs,’” according to Trey Hall, the then-chief marketing officer of Quiznos. According to Slate, Quiznos chose to go the bizarre-but-attention-grabbing route because of its small ad budget — which was $30 million.
Whether it helped or hurt Quiznos is up for debate, but it doesn’t really matter now. The restaurant chain went bankrupt in 2014 after overextending itself to 4,700 national locations by 2007. Today, there are fewer than 400 Quiznos locations in the United States and fewer than 800 worldwide.