If there is one thing Londoners love more than anything in the world it is Pret A Manger. You might have thought it was walking fast and we do love that, or complaining about delays on the tube, make me wait three minutes and you will hear about it for the rest of the day. But our real love, our true deep and abiding love is without a doubt Pret.
It is the sort of love that sneaks up on you. Not as a surprise, when first arriving in London falling in love with Pret is an automatic, even the tourists love Pret. The draw begins with the offer of free Wifi, not uncommon for any establishment but with 237 Pret’s in London, it is also frequent free Wifi. And with the odd purchase of a freshly made croissant or coffee to make you feel less bad about scrounging off their internet you start to become quite familiar with the store.
Give it two weeks and you start to realise that Londoners love Pret. “I love you like London loves Pret.” That’s a line from a poem I wrote my first my first month in London. I wasn’t in love with anybody, but I needed some way of expressing this intense love I saw around me.
The realisation that I was in just as deep as everyone else came not when I told a friend, “I love Pret.” When walking out of its door, a baguette-filled paper bag in hand, or when I found myself telling a new Londoner that Pret was the place to go when you needed fast food, because it was better and cheaper than McDonalds.
The moment I realised the depth of my love for Pret was late at night after a hard day, when I was contemplating moving away from London. The call of the country, a slower pace of life and maybe even a garden were strong. And of all the things it suddenly dawned on me that I would miss, Pret made me the saddest. In that moment my over-tired brain couldn’t honestly fathom what I would do without easy access to the world’s greatest fresh fast food shop. Did I start to tear up? I hope not, but you never know.
Now that we have talked about my love for Pret it’s time to prove that I am not some strange person ranting about a sandwich shop and to provide some other examples.
Take for instance, international pop star Taylor Swift who has just released a song called ‘London Boy’ which details the many different places in London she enjoys visiting with her English boyfriend. Just a few days after the song’s release, Londoner and Twitter user @jshez rewrote the lyrics, replacing all the place names with Pret locations.
“And now I love white filters, stories Pret, and the really big Pret in Victoria. You can find me in Pret, watch rugby with his school friends.”
So what is the appeal of Pret, other than sandwiches made fresh within the last few hours, delicious croissants and that one vegan baguette with pesto, pine nuts and nearly an entire avocado?
Hailey told 7Dnews, “Pret capitalises on the juxtaposed human desires of having a long healthy life unencumbered by vascular disease, while also not having to limit consumption of convenience foods.” And she’s right, the food is faster than unhealthy options, generally cheaper with the average baguette costing £3.75, only 75p more expensive than a Tesco meal deal.
Then there is the hot food, as Ruth told 7Dnews she loves Pret for, “Porridge. Where else can you buy hot, healthy porridge? Pret at Heathrow is my go-to place when awaiting my return flights to Australia... Long may it last.”
Joe, from England’s Midlands suggested that Pret speaks to the Londoner’s innate need to feel special, “Pret allows Londoners to satisfy the natural English craving for Greggs while still allowing them to feel superior to the plebs.”
Perhaps he’s right. But at the same time, I can confidently say, Pret a Manger will always be superior to Greggs. Greggs may have sausage rolls but Pret has Posh Cheese and Pickle Baguettes, and they are pure magic.