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The Weird Branding Deal That Pawn Stars Has With This Fast Food Joint

You're nestled cozily in your comfy chair, watching customers dazzle the cast of "Pawn Stars" with various random, historical gems they hope to sell at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. Maybe someone has an American flag press or a vintage Star Wars phone or Abraham Lincoln's original signature for sale. Depending on your mood and personal preferences, you root for high prices for some and lowball offers for others.

Though the items for sale on screen aren't associated in any way with snacks, you suddenly realize you're hungry. As you rise from your seat, it becomes clear that nothing you find in your own kitchen will do. You're craving a particular flavor, fast-food fare that can only be found at a very specific national chain restaurant. Getting there will mean making more effort than you'd planned when you sat down to watch your favorite show. But turning back to the screen, your taste buds are triggered once again.

It's almost as if "Pawn Stars" is pushing you out the door. Like they're making a concerted effort to turn viewers into fast-food consumers. And they know exactly which fast food joint they want you to visit.

Nothing but Subway

Pay careful attention when you're watching "Pawn Stars" and you'll notice something curious. When the cast talks food, it's often Subway they're chatting about. When they're caught with a footlong sub in hand, it's a Subway sandwich. You can spot wrapped Subway sandwiches on countertops and the like in some episodes. They've even filmed some spots inside Subway restaurants (via NickiSwift).

Sure, Subway makes a tasty meal, but what's with the obsession? Couldn't the guys opt for McDonald's or Burger King or—if they really can't live without subs—Quiznos once in a while?

Actually, no. If Chumlee or Corey or Rick were caught on camera chowing on Big Macs, Whoppers, and Quiznos Sammies, that would probably constitute some sort of breach of contract. Living every modern influencer's dream, the Pawn Stars struck a deal with Subway and snagged a major sponsor. All that talk and show of Subway sandwiches is a little thing called product placement. It works to send a subtle signal to viewers that they ought to be eating more of the stuff.

Now that we know what's really going on, this whole situation begs the question: Is product placement on "Pawn Stars" sneaky? Or smart?

The Real Moneymaker: Merch

Product placement often gets a bad rap, perceived as underhanded. But as cringy as their lack of transparency may be, the guys on "Pawn Stars" deserve some credit for being blatantly obvious when it comes to promoting their pet brand. They don't exactly try to hide what they're doing, so no one can accuse them of trickery. And hey, the show has to make money somehow.

Subway is widely touted as show's biggest sponsor, which makes it clear there are others. Surprisingly, however, it's not their biggest cash cow. And neither is the sale and transfer of various pricey items through the pawn business. The real money maker for "Pawn Stars" nowadays is merch (via Trendchaser). Have you checked out the Clothing & Souvenirs tab on the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop site recently? 

Items there range from the cheap, like an I Heart Chumlee Lanyard and a "Big Hoss" autographed HotWheels car, to the mighty expensive, including a Bel-Air Car Bench and Stereo priced at $2,500. Apparently, souvenirs are selling like hotcakes, another food item the "Pawn Stars" probably shouldn't promote lest they damage their lucrative relationship with Subway.