Tim Horton’s Cafe And Bake Shop is the new sponsor here at Braised Blue. I know in the past i’ve said things that are less than complimentary about the ubiquitous Canadian coffee and doughnut emporium but did you know they are now a cafe and bakeshop?
Lets go back to the beginning, Tim Horton was a NHL player from the late 40’s until the mid 70’s, who played over 1,400 games and managed just over 500 points. However he did triple his point output in penalty minutes which dove tails with coffee perfectly. If energy drinks are the elixir of the asshole than coffee is the brew of the high strung. Horton was known for being the strongest man in the NHL, sadly his coffee never lived up to his physical prowess. Who needs strong coffee right? “If you’re just going to douse the stuff in cream and sugar you might as well drink hot water with shoe polish in it,” Horton once said. Horton died in a bizarre drug and alcohol fuelled high speed chase on the QEW and soon after his wife was bought out by another partner for a million dollars and from there the company grew to the giant it is now. Seems like a heck of a deal.
Tim Horton’s has played on it’s Canadian identity and even has penetrated our vernacular. The Double Double has become part of our heritage, a divine little piece of marketing that turned the most popular coffee order into a mantra. Two shots of high fat cream and two scoops of sugar into a weak ass coffee, it’s like ordering a coffee and getting a creme brûlée for free. If you go to Starbucks you have to remember all kinds of “code words” to get what you want but at Tim Horton’s all you have to do to slip into a diabetic coma is to say, “double double.”
Tim Horton’s also is not without a sense of irony. In 1995 the American fast food giant took over Tim Horton’s though they began to heavily trade on their “Canadian identity” soon after. One of their first moves was to get rid of the on-site baking and convert the baking operation to a centralized system which allowed the shops to become more profitable. Of course quality dropped but because most of the people who frequent Tim Horton’s would eat a live rat as long as it was showered in cream and sugar nobody really raised a stink. Since the change over to central baking Tim Horton’s changed their name to Tim Horton’s Cafe and Bakeshop. A bakeshop that no longer bakes and a cafe that offers nothing really cafe-like* other than coffee-lite.
The most heartwarming part of Tim Horton’s is the fantastic way they treat their employees. Understaffed, overworked, underpaid constantly putting up with the least intelligent and most demanding customers in the food service industry**. But Tim Horton’s is a Canadian institution and it’s clear that we as a country love our institutions***, wrong or right, good or bad. There is nothing Canadians love more than comfort and there is nothing more comforting in the morning before a hockey practice than a hot cup of weak coffee, strong cream and a boatload of sugar.
*Coffee houses were once a place of political and social upheaval brain trusts of dissent where the caffeine fuelled discourse, to the point where coffee and coffee houses were banned in many countries. Tim Horton’s really is the opposite of this.
**This is a comment on the demographics of Tim Horton’s as well as the nature of the caffeine addict. But yes of any restaurant chain Tim Horton’s customers are the most likely to be dumb assholes.
***Unless you are from Alberta and that institution is the CBC.