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For McDonald's (MCD), the biggest worry of the moment may be Doctor's Associates Inc.

No, that's not a medical organization. It's a business that owns a very large restaurant chain. While it's true you could be excused for not knowing them, you're almost certainly familiar with their well-known operating unit. That would be Subway, the Milford, Conn.-based submarine sandwich shop that's grown at an extraordinary rate and is approaching 40,000 restaurants worldwide. It's nearly doubled its store count since 2003, the year it reached 20,000 units.

Shouldn't the headaches for Ronald McDonald & Co. come mainly from Burger King (BKW) and Wendy's (WEN)? They without question pose their own challenges, but, according to a report this week in Advertising Age, Subway also appears to be prominent among the things that cause angst for the Oak Brook, Ill., burger giant, in particular with regard to its appeal to the millennial generation.

Citing an internal company memorandum it obtained, Ad Age says McDonald's has referred to the wide launch of the chicken McWrap as the "Subway buster," viewing it as a product that will help keep younger eaters from choosing the sub chain when they're looking for a fast meal. McDonald's has learned that, without the McWrap, some 22% of diners in the roughly 18-32 age range would pick Subway, the article indicates. In addition, the quarter-pounder seller says in the memo that it "is currently not in the top 10" of the demographic's favorite chow establishments.

Lynne Collier, a Dallas-based restaurant analyst with Sterne Agee, has followed McDonald's for around three years, and she found it a bit curious that Subway would be at the front of the company's mind. After all, in addition to the found-everywhere chains noted above, other similar-to-McDonald's and quite widespread restaurants include Jack in the Box (JACK) and Sonic (SONC).

"I don't automatically think Subway," she says. "But apparently they are viewing Subway as somewhat of a major competitor."

Fair or not, Subway has gotten to be known for Jared Fogle, the long-time spokesman whose story centers on his shedding 245 lbs., aided by a diet that depended significantly on the company's sandwiches. Also fair or not, McDonald's came to be associated with "Super Size Me," the Morgan Spurlock movie in which the filmmaker gained a good bit of weight after eating only McDonald's food for a month.

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I love Subway because you can indeed get it your way - choosing from a boat load of toppings of your choice (which for me means every hot pepper in the store) and non-white breads. Our local store also has great service and knows their regulars, greeting with "your usual?" That kind of stuff makes for repeat customers.

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Sorry McDonald's, Subway beats you in too many ways to even count. Accept it and move on. And like DocM, our local store is just a great place to go. Plus, our McDonald's smells of burnt grease all the time. I just can't eat there anymore.

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McDonalds are too closely connected to unhealthy eating, and that's something that more and more people are becoming concerned with these days. Subway, on the other hand, have the perception of healthy eating. Certainly, some of their fillings can match McD's for calories, but most of them ARE far far healthier. If I'm in town and want something quick, Subway is usually my preferred destination.

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Subway. Eat Fresh! [tm]

I'd choose Subway over Maccas any day. (Y)

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You sure feel like you are getting more nutrition with a good turkey sub, over a burger & over-priced fries. :p

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i always view Subway as a cheap crappy quick meal. the quality of their food is very poor. (at least here in our area with nearly 10 locations within a quick drive)

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Subway always smells rancid and the smell follows you around for the rest of the day.

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$5 Footlong.

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Subway subs are great but tend to knock you into a sleepy state after eating. Even the greasiest McDonalds meal isn't that sleepy prone. Still decent bang for your buck considering what $5 gets you.

Though must say McDonalds did a pretty good job modernizing their restaurants into a hybrid fast food and coffee shop to also attract the latte sipping crowd - much better presentation than the other big fast food chains by far. Quite obvious who they're targeting when they run free coffee campaigns. Subway's format is barebones and better suits the eat-and-go or pick up crowds, not those who hang around for a while or have a chat while eating.

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I don't normally go to fast food joints... I mostly go to Applebee's, Cheddars, or Olive Garden.

When I do get "fast food" I normally go to Arby's and get a roast beef sammich and curly fries.

No greasy derrgeers for me

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Subways for me. McDonald's are famous for causing fat asses every day.

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When I do get "fast food" I normally go to Arby's and get a roast beef sammich and curly fries.

I love those too. Arby's has some great food.

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Not sure how widespread they are, but Culver's isn't bad for fast food. Their loaded burgers are pretty good.

http://www.culvers.com/

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