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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Tim Hortons in London

I just drank a double-double and ate a Boston Cream from Tim Hortons. Yes, I am still in London. No, not the one in Ontario. The other London.

A former classmate of mine sent me a message on Facebook a short while ago... asking if I was one of those donut-obsessed Canadians -- and if I was, to let me know he'd noticed a Tim Hortons sign in a shop window near Piccadilly.

A bit of googling later, and hot damn, it turns out he was right. So this morning I meandered my way to Haymarket -- a major road which lives between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.


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But who needs such sights, when there's donuts needin' eatin'... Haymarket being a one-way street, I pushed my bike along the pavement, looking out for the sign for Spar -- that being a chain of corner shops in the UK and Ireland.

Didn't see the Spar sign, but I sure as hell noticed the massive Timmys logo on the window. My heart soaring, I parked and scrambled inside.

It's (obviously) not a proper Tims, more like the ones you find in Esso stations. But beggars can't be choosers, and when it comes to donut options in London, you've got 1) crap and 2) Krispy Creme (ie, Krap).

The coffee comes from a machine, and shamefully, isn't very good. They do sell the tins of take-home coffee, but you could get that from the Australia Shop (which has a corner of canuckistan shiznit -- mmm... Kraft Dinner).

There wasn't much of a donut selection. They had lots of Boston Creams -- my favourites -- as well as chocolate ones with chocolate bits on them, ucky looking white-iced ones with sprinkles, jam-filled naked ones (no sugar? no icing?) and the basic chocolate iced ones.

The icing looks a bit weird, like they're doing something wrong somewhere along the line. And the donuts themselves don't really taste that fresh, though possibly they simply weren't. So not quite on par with walking into a proper Tims, right when they're putting still-warm donuts on the shelves... Still, a sweet, gooey taste of home, washed down with caffeinated awesomeness.

We just need to get slurpees out here, and I'll be happy. Morbidly obese, but happy.

Now for an aside on identity and branding: I realise it might seem stupid to connect a donut brand with nationalism, with "home." It doesn't just seem stupid, it really is. Canadians shouldn't feel patriotic for cracking open a can of Molson's Canadian (if the name wasn't enough, the slogan "I. AM. CANADIAN" and that lovely commercial kinda slammed the idea home).

The idea of Canadian-ness, however it should be defined, shouldn't be defined by marketing departments (even those that created Roll up the Rim to Win). Donuts aren't culture; they're not identity.

That said... I've spent many, many, many hours in Tims, chatting with friends into the wee, wee hours of the morning over an extra-large mocha and apple fritters -- shout out here to Kris, Mary, DarNat and Mel. (I just started salivating at the thought of apple fritters.) To me, Tims is one of those familiar stand-ins, a comforting pill to swallow when you can't have the real comfort of familiar faces and places.

And sometimes, when you're rather far away from home, something as basic as a familiar experience or taste is what you really need to feel a bit grounded and okay again. So it's not so much patriotism as homesickness, I guess.

All that, and donuts too...

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12 Comments:

Blogger Daorcey said...

I won't tell Natalie you dissed her vanilla dip (the white one with the sprinkles).

7/4/08

 
Blogger Nicole said...

Oh, I like vanilla dips. But these ones looked like they'd been dipped in white-out. They looked baaaaaaad.

8/4/08

 
Blogger joelle said...

You've just made me so homesick! I'm also a fellow Canadian in big ol' London-town. I also stumbled across that *hahem* "Timmy's" and gawked for quite awhile and got my Londoner friend to take a few pictures of me wide-eyed and pointing at the giant logo across the window...god bless Tim Hortons!

27/12/08

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang on..." The coffee comes from a machine, and shamefully, isn't very good" - well, just like a Tim's in Canada then eh. No wonder it brings back memories!

22/6/09

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have had mixed emotions while reading your note. | was happy to find that the tims was not that far away but the more I read the more disappointed i got. Truth be told, your writing is awesome and made me laugh out loud at several moments, but bad coffee??? im so upset.. i already hate the coffee here in london.. but i will try it out and help support a canadian company.

25/9/09

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all well and good to support canadian companies, and all, but... i am a die hard timmy's addict, and i always will be, but they are not a canadian company anymore, they are owned by wendy's and have been for quite some time

7/11/09

 
Blogger Rodney said...

i just noticed the tim's and have started to feel a bit home sick.

thanks for the review, but I have to disagree a bit, food is really identity, more commonly called cuisine, it has direct connections to nationality.

Canada is odd in regards that its national dishes are fast food, but who cares, I am so getting a double-double tomorrow.

8/4/10

 
Anonymous Harley said...

As a fellow Canadian visiting in London, I got excited until I read the rest of the review. I love Tim Hortons, and if it taste nothing like a real Double Double, then I won't be going.

21/9/10

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Londoner, addicted to Tim Hortmons in a way that no other coffee can (I think they put something in it ;-)) I was also so excited to know there was one!
I brought some back for a friend and he too is addicted by the coffee blend, so a vist to Haymrket is due. Who knew, I would ever be dying to venture into a Spar!

26/1/12

 
Anonymous Won't Reveal My Name :) said...

Being half Canadian and loving Tim Hortons but live in London I was excited when I heard you say there was a Tim Hortons in London until I heard the name Spar. I work for Spar so cold have and endless supply of my favourite donut Boston Creams but they taste nothing alike. They are not freshly baked but ordered in frozen and merely defrosted before going onto the shelf. The coffee is not actually Tim Hortons but a cheap type they order in by the bag. I will just have to wait for my Tim Hortons fix until I go to Canada next. (also my Dairy Queen Fix)

9/1/13

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss the ice caps badly.just came back from holiday from canada,visiting my family

9/9/13

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me too, just came back from seeing my mom, and think i stopped at every Timmies in the Middlesex Area ! Love the Dutchies and vanilla cappuccino.

9/10/13

 

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