Tim Hortons

Let’s talk about a phenomenon that is quintessentially Canadian. There is one on every corner. It is named after a hockey player. The commercials in the winter almost always include hockey. It’s a place that sponsors hockey teams. It is home of Timbits. It is a place that every Canadian is very familiar with. Some people wear t-shirts threatening injury if they don’t get a piece of this phenomenon. I’ve even seen bumper stickers proudly proclaiming their allegence to the brand. It is something that is ingrained in any born-and-raised Canadian, but I haven’t figured out why.

Let’s talk about Tim Hortons. Timmy Ho’s. Timmies. Hortons.

The only time I partake in Tim Hortons is on the way to the cottage, because unless you count a farmer’s field, it’s the only place to stop for a bathroom break. And I ain’t peeing next to no cows. I don’t particularly enjoy Tim Hortons, but I do not hate it either. I know some who are very passionate when it comes to the chain, and insist it is a part of our Canadian heritage. This is beyond my understanding, so I called in my Facebook friends for help. I posed this question: Tim Hortons: Love it or hate it? Why? and got some interesting responses.

The first thing people do when asked about Tim Hortons is compare it to Starbucks. My dear friend Kristi put it perfectly:

You can’t really compare it to Starbucks. It’s like if someone asked you the question: “Wendy’s, love it or hate it?” and you reply with “I really like the Keg”.

Exactly. You can’t compare the two. They are completely different places, meant for completely different target audiences. In this post, we shall not compare Tim Hortons to Starbucks. It’s like comparing a Kia to a Mercedes. Or a Heat’n’Glo to a Valor*. Or Walmart to Banana Republic. There is nothing wrong with either, both are good for their respective audiences, but you can’t compare them without one of them looking like absolute dung.

Through my scientific research, I discovered that Tim Hortons is polarizing, and gets blood boiling. You have responses like this:

because it’s dirt.
need i say more? – Jocelyn

In contrast with responses like this:

Jocelyn your comment is dirt lol need I say more? – Scotty

Some people really like the food:

Their Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter cookie is the best – Karen

No one makes better French Vanilla [cappuccino] – Sam

Others really like the prices:

Its a decent price and is perfect when you want a quick fix and don’t want to pay crazy prices. I’d choose Timmies. – Tory

Donut = 12 cents. Need I say more? – Geoff

Some people have something to say about their coffee:

I’m a coffee snob and need real coffee not cellophane sealed packets :P – Shannon

Their coffee has no flavour! – Karen

Not a fan of their coffee. – Luke

I’ve now had enough [good] coffee to make Timmies pretty awful. – Angela

Others have issues with different aspects:

Have you been in a Tim’s washroom lately? Especially in Harriston, Hanover and Hepworth… Eeeewwww!!!!!! – my mother

I have noticed the staff tend to be really rude… they always yell “can I help who’s next” which isn’t even grammatically correct… shudder! – Annie

A few people are indifferent:

If there’s no Starbies to be found and I need a caffiene fix … It’ll do. – Paula

I’m not sure what I really learned from this experiment, other than some people love it, some people hate it. Either way, Tim Hortons has worked it’s way into Canadian culture. As Scotty so passionately puts it:

Timmies was born in the [hockey] arenas. It’s made for the work force men who strap on the steel toes and get the job done. It’s made quick and tastes delicious and 89 cent donut to go with that makes excellent breakfast. Besides you can spend 10 dollars a week on Timmies coffee or spend more then 20 bucks at Starbucks…..money don’t come around easy**. Or you could also buy Maxwell coffee…does the trick and is really good coffee.

I guess you could say that Canadians like Tim Hortons because it’s closely tied with things we love: hockey, hard work and “doing the trick”. And really, who could ever pass up a donut testicle Timbit?

Explain exactly why this is an appropriate thing to have on your webpage?

*Obscure fireplace reference. Making my father proud.

**This phrase makes me certain that Scotty has watched a lot of commercials.

How many Timbits could you eat in one sitting?


19 thoughts on “Tim Hortons

  1. Huh, Timbits. Around here, we call those donut holes. With a choice between donut testicles, Timbits, and donut holes, I think I’ll stick with donut holes. :)

    In their donut hole designation, I know I have eaten 1-2 dozen in a sitting before.

  2. It saddens me that it’s no longer a Canadian-owned company. They do a very good job of hiding it.

    Update: after reading an FAQ on their site (the first item in fact) this is what they say:

    Is Tim Hortons a U.S company?

    “Tim Hortons is no longer owned by Wendy’s and is a stand-alone public company trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. Tim Hortons corporate head office is in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.”

    Are they just avoiding the question? Seems to me like if it wasn’t there should just be a big “NO”.


  3. When my brother spent two years in Korea, he said newly-arriving Canadians often brought large containers of Tim Hortons coffee (beans or grounds), and their fellow Canadians always rejoiced.

    Since I live in the Mitten that’s high-fiving the Great White North, I’ve had Tim Hortons nearby for a while now. (They expanded into southeast Michigan years ago.) I’ve enjoyed my visits there, but beyond the obvious hockey connection, I’ve never been able to understand the deep cultural attachment to the Hort. I like the food I’ve had there, but I don’t love it. I guess I’m too American.

    Finally: your alternate name for Timbits made me LOL. (Yes, I actually LOL’d. I didn’t just LTM [Laugh To Myself] and say I LOL’d.) Though in that light it does make it a little weird to call Tim Hortons-sponsored youth hockey teams/players Timbits. I…er…uh…okay, next topic.

  4. I suspect that the strong connection to Timmies is more a nostalgic wish for what it used to be, rather than what it is.

    Oh, and it’s spelled “allegiance.” Sorry.

  5. The par-baked product saddens me… they make it so easy to make “fresh” donuts that they don’t need a real baker on the premises anymore, and then don’t bother to keep the shelves full! Whyyyy!?!?!!!

    Ahem… must. keep. mouth. shut…..

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