Monday, June 14, 2010

Chain-o-rama: O Canada (Tim Horton's)

Went up to Ontario this past weekend for a long weekend. Spent most of it with the Better Half's family, and spent it camping. But, how could any trip up north be complete without a stop in at Tim Horton's?

Tim Horton's is kind of an amazing thing to me. If you are Canadian, you likely are fond of Tim Horton's. I really don't feel like there is an American equivalent. I mean, I've seen some areas in the Northeast where there affiliation with Dunkin Donuts is quite strong, but... the appeal of Tim Horton's in Ontario, especially, is incredible. I mean, you see such outrageously long lines on a daily basis at their shops it is amazing. They just recently started accepting credit cards, and yet they only accept Mastercard. The reason - the feeling that cards slow down the lines. And, hey, when you have what seems like a nearly inelastic product, you can pull that off. Again, the appeal of TH's is amazing. It is strong in a big city like Toronto, and it crosses every class. Even when Starbucks held more cache then their current status of a near-cliche, there was always somewhat of a divide with coffee drinkers who just didn't care for Starbucks' roasting. I had worked as a vendor with Starbucks, and we went through some of their cultural training, and I did applaud their feelings about that - they felt like they had the best coffee product out there, and so while they knew they didn't meet every taste, they were fine with that (um, how that old mentality now fits in with this idea of having the Via instant coffee, I'm not quite sure, but SBUX obviously has had a lot of issues with controlling growth).

Anyhow, the Better Half's parents live in a small town in Northern Ontario, and the appeal of TH's is even stronger in the small towns. At last count, the small town where her parents live is a population of around 35,000 and yet there are at least 6 TH locations! Crazy.

So, we didn't do much eating out this weekend, but we did make 2 stops in at Tim Horton's, coming and going. I do like their restaurants. The food is somewhere between fast food and a Panera. And, despite the rambling, I'm not really much of a coffee person. But, I like their chili, even though it may not constitute a "real" chili to some people as it mostly lacks beans yet does have mushrooms. What I like most about there locations is the kind of throwback feel. I mean, look at this, you get your food on this metal platter!

And, even better, look at the simple little plate you get your donut on if you eat in the store.

Now, is it all that great tasting? Um... no, not really. It is dependable, it is simple, it is unadorned. And, really, I guess that is what you have to achieve as a mass marketer. Even the donuts, while tasty, are not exactly my style. They're more cake-y, even for something like a simple glazed or chocolate dip. Yes, they're tasty, and they're, again, consistent, but I think Dunkin's actually has a better donut, much less a plethora of more local places.

The verdict: 2 belly rubs (out of 5). While not hitting any high notes, the dependability and consistency is safe and comfortable.

Finally, I'm a whole-hearted American, though of mixed ethnic decent. I do love our anthem, and am not sure why so many Americans seem to praise the Canadian one, though it is quite nice. Anyhow, I really like this video. The fan over the hockey player's shoulder at the 1:00 mark is especially inspiring.


Anonymous said...

My sister lives in Kitchner/Waterloo. Alway make a stop on the way in and out to Tim Horton's. LOVE the coffee. My brother-in-law always brings a box of Tim Bits (donut holes) when he comes to visit Indy.

Catherine said...

I don't get the Timmy's thing either. I grew up in the metro Detroit area, so we often crossed over into Ontario. I've eaten there plus had their coffee. I mean, it's fine, but my Canadian friends are FANATICAL about TH! There's one now in MI where my parents live but I have only been there once, for a frou frou iced coffee drink.

Indy Grub Review said...

Well, the name Tim Bits does make me happy.... and, I especially like their apple fritter ones.... m r tastee!

Jon said...

Ohio now has Timmies and yes coming from a Canadian here in th US - Timmies is the best in the WORLD!!!