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Frozen bits of Tim

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What's your favourite donut?

Like Homer, I prefer a sprinkle donut, or "vanilla dip" in Tim Hortons parlance. One friend prefers the gooey goodness of a Boston Cream while another likes a cruller. To each their own, I say.

The best sprinkle donut is from Tim Hortons. I don't know why it's the best, maybe their secret ingredient is love or perhaps MSG. Whatever it is, the best donuts are made by Tim Hortons and are "Always Fresh."

Or are they?

A story broke that Tim Hortons' donuty goodness was, in fact, no longer always fresh. The "Always Fresh" slogan is plastered throughout stores and all over the corporate website. But donuts are now fried, frozen and packaged in a factory in, gasp, Toronto, not baked in individual stores.

No longer a secret, store owners and employees are proclaiming donuts are "par-baked," meaning partially baked, before reaching consumers' mouths. And like the shadowy figures on X-Files, T-Ho's PR people are vehemently denying any monkeying around with Canada's favourite treat.

Unfortunately, it's probably true.

There's something special about freshly baked donuts. Rolling into a Timmy Ho's after a night of drinking was bettered by the fresh racks of donuts, smelling of empty calories. You grab your favourite donut and gab well into the morning.

Now, knowing my donut was born in a mass-produced factory in Ontario dampens my joy. I used to swear the Tim Hortons by my house has the best crullers in the city. Now every cruller I eat will leave a stale Toronto-like taste in mouth.

Well, why the big hubbub about a donut? The reason lies in Tim Hortons' history.

Tim Horton, the person not the store, was a Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman. He began an unsuccessful hamburger restaurant chain but switched to the coffee and donut idea.

Over the years, Tim Hortons has tried to expand past donuts. They tried chilli, muffins, pies, cinnamon buns, soups and macaroons. At one time, they wanted to open ice cream stores but it was deemed too seasonal. A soup and sandwich chain, Break Away, was a failure.

The lesson learned was Tim Hortons is in business to sell donuts. Horton himself created perennial donut favourites the apple fritter and the dutchie.

Now, Tim's has incorporated soups and sandwiches, but donuts put the "D" in the Tim Hortons DNA. I cannot fathom a world where Tim Hortons does not sell donuts.

But the true nature of the uproar lies in the fact Tim Hortons has made a caffeine-and-carbohydrate-home in everyone's heart. People have rituals involving the store. Rez students head to Tim's. Many a problem is hashed out at the donut shop. Things wouldn't go without the java jet fuel Tim Hortons provides.

You may moan, "it's just a donut company." However, Timmy Ho's has wormed its way into the collective Canadian identity--and Canadian identity is a funny thing. We attach meaning to ideas and objects other countries rejected years ago, ideas Tim Hortons successfully exploits.

Remember the "Based on a true story..." commercials? From military ships to university students to the curling rink manager, they have an intimate connection with Tim's, one most Canadians could relate to. I can't put my finger on why it has happened. Perhaps it's the hockey origins or the fact there's a Tim Hortons on every corner. Whatever the reason, too much of a change will set our toques askew.

It's funny to see the uproar surrounding a simple donut--a Canadian artifact. In fact, Tim Hortons has not been a Canadian-owned company since 1995 when it became a subsidiary of Wendy's.

While this seems acceptable to our myths, mass-producing donuts apparently pushed too far. So, if we complain long and loud, with crullers clutched to our hearts, maybe the corporate honchos will hear us.

To contact Tim Hortons, e-mail them at customer_service@timhortons.com.

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Comments

Guess it's not surprising that Tim's now fried in Toronto and shipped across the country. If Mickey D's does that with their McNuggets then why not Tim's?

This shouldn't have been a surprise at all...besides, T-Ho's Donuts is now owned by Americans.

they come as cold as my heart, the dounts are not made on toronto. Rather they are made in Brantford Ont , which is just a hour down the 403. i know this because i work at a local tim hortons have that such information , and the factory is only five minutes from where i live. On a good clear not too windy night i can smell dounts . When they first brought the forzen dounts in we were told to say the we "baked " them our selfs. According to the managers baking means taking forzen dounts from the freezer and putting them into the "easy-bake-oven". We were also told not to speak of any of this to a customer or a web site for example, so the part-timers/teenagers and my store came up with the name" Project X" for the new dounts because of the secretcy around them. I think that tim hortons should come out from the cold and let ever one know the score .

Yep, I work there, and every stinkin word is true. I refuse to eat them, as they are refried in their own fat, in our new "easy bake" ovens.

Excellently writen article. I am doing some research this evening on Timmy's for a (quarky) Toastmasters topic. Living in the US for many years, away from the daily visit to the local Tim Hortons (or Esso Station even!), I can tell a distinct difference in the level of quality and freshness. I'm suprised more Canadians haven't had more of a voice about it! All I can figure is that everyone was slowly introduced to the pre-made mixture, and thus haven't really noticed as much? -- not certain if this reply has made any sense, it has been a long, and(Tim Horton's)coffeeless day (which by the way I always bring back at least a tin of!). Regards.