Sandwich chain Subway Restaurants on Monday said it was ending a promotion at its German franchises that used an image of an obese Statue of Liberty.
The promotion had sparked outrage from a leader in the U.S. Congress. Subway spokesman Kevin Kane said the promotion, which ended Monday, may have been pulled ahead of schedule.
"The staff over in Germany has been contacting us daily because they feel bad," Kane said. "They may have said, 'OK, let's wrap this up.' "
At issue was a tray liner at Subway's German franchises promoting the documentary "Super Size Me," which links the U.S. fast-food industry, particularly Subway rival McDonald's Corp., to the nation's obesity problem.
Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, who lost nearly 250 pounds eating the chain's sandwiches daily, appears in the film.
Subway, owned by Doctor's Associates Inc., began receiving customer complaints about the tray liner -- which features a heading that asks, "Why are Americans so fat?" -- after House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) criticized the promotion. "I guess for some companies corporate patriotism is as flexible as Jared's waistline," he said last week.
Two conservative groups, the National Legal and Policy Center and the Center for Individual Freedom, also criticized the promotion.
DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella on Monday cheered the promotion's end, saying he was encouraged by Subway's "responsiveness and sensitivity."