Granted, in Canadian pop culture, there’s very little that we have to call our own. We’ve got very little in the way of our own TV industry, film industry, and music industry. As for a fast food industry, though, there’s one thing that rises above it all. There’s one nationwide restaurant we all look to and claim as our own. At least, I think that’s why Tim Horton’s has gotten so freakin’ popular in recent years.
What is it? What is it about Tim Horton’s that has drawn people from all across the nation to have a cup of their coffee? What is it about that little donut shop that’s so popular that “double double” has entered the lexicon? How did it happen that we all know to roll up the rim to win? How did it happen that I can’t get a donut without standing in line for half-an-hour?
I’m sure we all know the tale of how Tim Horton’s came to be. Toronto Maple Leaf Tim Horton knew that he couldn’t be a hockey player forever. So, he started expanding into the private sector. He experimented with a bunch of different kinds of businesses until he finally settled on a donut shop, and he went into business with Ron Joyce. Tim Horton’s was originally just one little outlet in Toronto, until Tim Horton died in a car accident in the early 70s. Ron Joyce then bought Tim Horton’s share from the Tim Horton estate, and took it nationwide.
I’m sure you’re thinking that that is a great Canadian success story. Well, guess what? Tim Horton’s isn’t Canadian! Don’t you remember in the mid-1990s when they merged with Wendy’s? It was in all the papers. That’s how we got all those Tim Horton’s/Wendy’s popping up all over the country. Ever since that point, Tim Horton’s has been owned by Wendy’s. In fact, that’s why Tim Horton’s made the headlines again a few months ago. Wendy’s expansion has reached a plateau, and Tim Horton’s expansion across the USA is going like wildfire! It’s not going to be too long before Wendy’s and Tim Horton’s are competing against each other, so Wendy’s is spinning off Tim Horton’s into an independent company. So, I guess, if enough of us buy enough Tim Horton’s stock, we can, kinda, make it a Canadian company again.
But I’m sure that’s got to be a part of it. They’ve got the patriotism angle all locked up in their commercials. Like that classic one about the kid backpacking across Europe, and only by the Tim Horton’s mug dangling from his backpack did people know he was Canadian. It’s one of the cleverest angles that could be taken for advertising, especially here in Canada. We’re so desperate for some sense of identity that we’ll latch onto any product that brands itself as “Canadian.”
But it’s got to be more than that, right? It’s the fresh made donuts everyday! Wrong! Tim Horton’s doesn’t make their donuts fresh in every store anymore. Now they’re made at a central bakery, frozen, and sent out to Tim Horton’s all across the country.
I don’t drink coffee, but I’ve been told that Tim Horton’s coffee is actually kind of weak.
They do make a good soup and sandwich, though.
So, why is it? In every office now there’s at least one person who has to make a Tim Horton’s run every morning. Weak coffee, frozen donuts, an American company flaunting itself as proudly Canadian. I just don’t understand it. So, if you can tell me, please, let me know.