This morning, I woke up in Jacksonville.
This is unlike most mornings I find myself waking up to, as I am usually located in Orlando for school.
This weekend, however, I made the journey upstate to my old stomping grounds. Sure, it's only a 127-mile expedition. But there's one thing you can get your hands on in Jacksonville that is nowhere to be found in central Florida --
Publix's limited-edition Jaguars Chicken Tender Sub.
If you haven't heard of the Publix NFL specialty subs by now, allow me to catch you up.
Around 11am this morning, I made my move.
When I arrived at the Julington Creek Publix (St. Johns, represent), I was immediately struck by the amount of people aware of the Jaguars' home-opener tomorrow. You see, in Orlando, you're lucky to stumble upon someone wearing a Blake Bortles shirt-jersey every once in a while. But today, I was smacked in the face with teal and black.
I saw Jaguars balloons, and I saw tailgate displays.
I passed by the Jaguars special edition Bud Light cans adjacent to the walk-in lobby, promising myself that no amount of teal, gold, and black packaging would coax me into drinking Bud Light.
Eventually, I saw what I had journeyed to Publix to find. I found the deli.
Unfortunately, I approached the "pick-up" section of the deli only to find that my sub that I had ordered 37 minutes prior was nowhere to be found.
Oh well. "It'll be a more genuine experience this way," I thought to myself as I climbed into the overflowing sub queue.
Eventually, I waddled the front of the line. I relayed my order to the deli attendant.
"Excuse me," I heard projected in my direction. Some guy, dressed in Bulldogs red, tapped me on the shoulder. He was wearing sunglasses, as it was very sunny inside this particular Publix.
"Are you getting that?" he asked, pointing to the "try the Jaguars Sub!" banner that dangled above the deli counter. I couldn't tell if it was disgust or intrigue I heard in his voice. Probably both.
"I sure am," I replied confidently. I had never been so sure of anything in my entire life.
I grabbed my sub and hit up the 10 items or less line. The cashier gave me a subtle "go Jags" on my way out the door.
The Starting Line-up
- Chicken Tenders
- BBQ Mayo
I'm sure no one has made this connection yet, but I'm going to go ahead address one thing -- yes, my name is Cole. And yes, I love coleslaw.
When the list of ingredients for the Jaguars sub started making it's rounds on Twitter last month, most Jags fans were repulsed by Publix's controversial implementation of coleslaw into a sandwich.
Not me. Bring it on.
The BBQ mayonnaise seemed like an interesting concept to me. The kind of thing that could either be really bad, or really good. I was hoping for the latter.
But enough breakdown. Let's get into the game film.
I placed my trophy on the table.
I unwrapped my prize.
Most alarming, up front, was the absence of bacon. I couldn't see any bacon. "It's in there," I reassured myself.
But what if it wasn't. I couldn't see it.
Second-most alarming, even to a coleslaw-lover like myself, was the ungodly amount of coleslaw shoved into the sandwich. I didn't remember the deli worker being this generous with the coleslaw. Could the slaw have expanded during my 10-minute drive home?
I sat for a couple seconds admiring my lunch. Curious. Excited. Hungry.
The Moment of Truth
I took a bite.
First impression: Eh, it's alright I guess.
Second, third, and fourth impression: Yeah. It's ok.
I appreciate what you tried to do here. I'm actually not sure what any of these sub ingredients or condiments has to do with the Jaguars or the city of Jacksonville, but I'm not even mad.
The thing is, I enjoy every component of this sub on it's own. All of the ingredients "standing united," however, is like some crazy science experiment in my mouth. It wasn't necessary enjoyable, but it kind of worked. And I give you props for trying crazy shit, Publix.
I'm genuinely grateful for the opportunity to digest a piece of the Jaguars in my body during the weekend of the opening game. If the Jaguars actually beat the Carolina Panthers tomorrow, I know I'll probably consider this sub-concoction a good luck charm, of sorts.
Which puts me in an awkward position. I don't want the Jaguars to lose, of course, but I'd rather not feel the need to consume this sub every weekend.