I don’t know about you, but every time I try to go to a Tim Hortons, I wonder: what are they putting in their coffee?
You can be driving along just about anywhere in this vast country, quietly admiring its vastness and minding your own business, rocking out to your Tower of Power CD, when suddenly you are slowed to a virtual crawl.
You seem to be caught in some sort of parade, vehicles everywhere, all with their turn signals on, inching along what used to be an actual functioning city street.
This can mean only one thing: there’s a Tim Hortons coffee shop up ahead.
Vehicles of every size and description are locked in a lineup that begins at the Timmy’s drive-through order window, snakes through several parking lots and ends up causing traffic jams in a number of adjoining subdivisions.
In fact, I think it should be mandatory that when a new Tim Hortons franchise opens, it must be required to include a separate six-kilometre drive-through with its own overpass, on and off ramps, and computer-controlled, camera-monitored traffic light system.
And at the rate Tim Hortons locations are opening up in North America, we will soon run out of land.
Our vastness will someday be covered in nothing but a series of Tim Hortons franchises linked together by lineups of cars.
But how did this madness start? And what do they put in their coffee?
Every Canadian worth his or her Vanilla Latte knows that the actual Tim Horton was a defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
(Trivia alert: What was Tim Horton’s sweater number, and how long did he play in the NHL?)
Since the Toronto Maple Leafs rarely play hockey past April, and since hockey players spend most of their off-ice time on golf courses or in coffee shops, he was probably bored and tired of missing the playoffs and since he couldn’t afford to buy a golf course like hockey players can nowadays, he opened his first humble coffee and donut shop in Hamilton, Ont. in 1964.
Today, in this consumer-driven, caffeine-addicted society there are more litres per capita of Timmy’s “double doubles” in Canada than actual water. And there are more doughnut holes than doughnuts. In fact, Timbits have now been officially added as the Canada Food Guide’s fifth food group.
So many people are rolling up in the cars to purchase coffee in paper cups so that they can “Roll Up the Rim to Win,” landfill sites across the nation report higher paper volumes during Tim Hortons contest times.
(Trivia hint: Both answers contain the same number. Three times.)
So what is responsible for this mysterious Timmy’s factor of proliferating popularity?
Is it the time-tested truism that humans will readily and blindly follow trends and copy what other lemmings are doing?
Has Tim Hortons somehow sabotaged our home coffee-making machines so Canadians can’t make coffee at home anymore?
Do Tims have powerful electro-magnetic devices that, no matter which way the driver steers, the invisible force pulls every second or third vehicle into one of its coffee shops?
Or, is it something in the coffee?
Well, believe it or not, I have discovered the answer. I read this on the interweb so it must be true. Tim Hortons coffee contains nicotine! Yes, according to the expert sources who are all named “anonymous,” customers are hooked on Tim Hortons coffee because it is infested with copious amounts of nicotine.
Apparently, ignoring the ongoing work of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, some nicotine conspiracy theorists even go so far as to claim that, get this, nicotine is contained in the coffee filters and/or sprayed on the inside of the disposable cups!
No wonder some people “Roll up the Rim to Win” 25 times a day. And – Bonus! – if you want to quit smoking, you can always chew on your Tim Hortons paper cup.
(Trivia answer: Tim Horton wore sweater No. 2 and played 22 years.)
But here’s a thought: maybe it’s just good coffee. Or maybe it’s popular because it’s a decent coffee shop started by a hard-working, popular Canadian NHL defenceman who died in a car accident after a hockey game.
Personally, I like the last explanation best, but then again, I wouldn’t really know.
I can never get near the place.
Harley Hay is a local filmmaker and freelance writer.