Monday, June 29, 2009

Nothin’ More Canadian than Tim’s

Tim Hortons CaféImage by luismontanez via Flickr

Stand-up comics often make real-life observations funny – and one of those real-life observations is the predominance of donut shops in Canada.

“They are like McDonald’s in the States,” I remember hearing one say years ago. “There has to be a donut shop on just about every corner up here.”

Many of us Canadians would agree, often telling co-workers we’re heading off to “Tim’s” and asking if we can get them anything. Or you may hear someone saying they are taking a “Tim’s break.”

Former Toronto Maple Leaf hockey star Tim Horton’s has become a name known more for coffee, donuts and “Timbits” than for his stick handling. “Timbits,” are tiny donut-like treats, usually round, with a donut filling of some kind, for those outside of Canada.

See, for as long as most can remember, Tim Hortons has been their local donut shop. They really are everywhere, even on many Canadian military bases, including one on the Canadian base in Afghanistan.

There are other donut and coffee shops all across Canada as well, but Tim Hortons is the only chain to really become part of the Canadian experience.

Maybe it’s because it is named after a former hockey legend, or maybe it is because of their Canadian maple donuts, or maybe it is just good marketing, but if there is one company which has managed to sneak into the symbolism of our country, that company would be Tim Hortons.

That’s why there wasn’t a donut shop more Canadian than Tim’s – at least until 2007 when American burger joint Wendy’s bought the company.

Guess American’s don’t love donuts as much as us Canucks – because Tim’s is becoming Canadian once again due to poor sales in the States. Tim’s has always been in Canada, but when Wendy’s bought the company, they became an American subsidiary. Tim Hortons announced today that they would be forming a completely separate Canadian company for them to merge the American one into again. The company will still operate under the Tim Horton shame on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, so investors have nothing to worry about.

As Americanized as the world becomes, with McDonald’s popping up everywhere, American celebrities outshining local ones, and even American political interest growing with the so-called Obama-mania spreading outside of the American borders, there are still some things in all countries which will remain unique, and let you know you aren’t in the U.S.A.

In the United Kingdom, symbols such as the old-style British architecture, fish and chips wrapped in newsprint, and round-abouts which are bound to make North American driver’s dizzy differ Brit’s from Americans. In many Asian countries, the roads are filled with bicycle traffic, instead of cars, letting you know you aren’t in Kansas anymore.

For us Canadians, it is donut shops on every corner, being excessively polite, and our passion for hockey and strong Canadian beer which differs us from our American neighbours to the south.

Oh, that and our inclusion of a former hockey player’s name into our lexicon which has come to mean a coffee break of sorts.

Only in Canada, eh?
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