Photo: AaronAmat (iStock)

We’ve previously bemoaned the depths to which corporations expect us to stoop in exchange for free food. Americans will dress up like cows, name their babies for fast-food mascots, and swipe right on restaurant brands’ dating profiles just to earn… what, a $5 sandwich? But a new Potbelly promotion tied to Valentine’s Day is the new low, the reigning sad-benchmark by which all other free-food deals will be judged.

Here’s the gist: Customers who visit a Potbelly sandwich shop on Valentine’s Day without a significant other can receive a free cookie. To reiterate: You must go to a corporate sandwich shop, tell the cashier that you are alone, and they will hand you with a free cookie (retail value: $1.50).

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Nothing against Potbelly, which sustained some of my long freshman-year study sessions, but I’m struggling to imagine a scenario in which I emerge from this free-cookie promotion with my dignity intact:

Cashier: Hi, welcome to Potbelly. What can I get you?
Me: Yeah, can I get A Wreck on multigrain bread with Swiss? Oh, also I’m single.
Cashier: Oh, I wasn’t… I uh, am already dating someone.
Me: No no, I’m single. It’s for the cookie?
Cashier: …
Me: It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m single and I’m here for my free lonely person cookie.
Cashier: Oh, right. And you want extra mayo on that sandwich, correct?
Me: Yes. I am sad.

Should this ordeal be worth it to you, details of the promotion can be found via QSR Magazine. Potbelly would also like to remind you that love can happen anywhere, any time. Even inside a sandwich shop.