Something New, or Something Borrowed?

Ask almost anyone if they are a fan of the Beatles.  They may say something to the effect of, “yeah-yeah-yeah!”  Ask those same people if they’re also a fan of the Rolling Stones.  Chances are, they’d be singing, “oh yeah – oh yeah!”  Fans of rock and roll, though they may favor one over the other, can most often share a strong appreciation for both the Beatles and the Stones.

So, “how does this have anything to do with sandwiches,” you may be asking yourself right about now?  Well, if you’ve made your rounds through the state of Mississippi, then you know its culture is rich with the history of American music.  Likewise, you’ve probably stopped in a time or two to enjoy a sandwich at places like McAlister’s, Newks, or Sweet Peppers, all three companies founded in Mississippi.  Of the three, McAlister’s has been around the longest, founded in 1989 in Oxford, MS, and now operating over 350 restaurants in 26 states.  Newk’s didn’t officially hit the scene until 2004, but they have certainly enjoyed tremendous success since opening their first location, also in Oxford, MS, and have now expanded to over 100 locations throughout 13 states.  Sweet Peppers, however, first opened their doors in 1997 in Columbus, MS, yet there are only 19 total locations.  So chances are, it’s been a bit more pressing to locate a Sweet Peppers on your trail through the southeastern United States.

Now that you know a bit of the backstory, the next time you’re asking around for suggestions on where to go to have a tasty sandwich, you’ll very likely end up with McAlister’s and Newk’s as two of your top options.  But Sweet Peppers?  Not so much!  And the reason comes down to location, location, location….. or the lack there of.  Furthermore, if you ever did happen to sit down to dine at a Sweet Peppers, you may have noticed a very familiar look and an even more familiar taste.  And that would be because you’ve pretty much already eaten a Sweet Peppers sandwich before with any trip you’ve ever made to McAlister’s or Newk’s.  It’s almost as if the entire Sweet Pepper’s sandwich menu was outright lifted from that of the competitors.  Even right down to the soups and salads, the similarities are uncanny.

So, whether it’s rock and roll, or sandwich greatness, the fans tend to show more appreciation for the more original artists, and not as much towards the copy cats.  When it comes to the sandwich makers of the southeast, McAlister’s would be the Beatles.  Newk’s would be the Rolling Stones.  And Sweet Peppers?  Well… they’d be Oasis, Brit-pop rockers of the 1990’s.  And even though they had catchy tunes on the top of the charts, it’s quite obvious where the inspiration for Oasis came from.

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