Tim Hortons, the beloved Canadian coffee chain and essential pit stop for cottage commuters, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this Saturday, May 17 by bringing back the chocolate éclair doughnut from the 1960s. The long, whipped-cream covered treat edged out four other retro contenders in the #TimsBringItBack contest: The sugar twist, the bread bowl, the pecan butter tart, and the chocolate sour cream glazed doughnut.
While there are some things we wouldn’t ever want to see come back—like the old smoking sections inside the restaurants—the contest has unearthed some other much-missed Tims features.
Long before you could “roll up the rim,” you could roll up to those cute Tim Hortons counters and grab a swivel stool, newspaper, and big mug of coffee. While once essential to the drop-in coffee shop experience of the 1970s, and key to meeting random neighbours, these stools began disappearing as restaurants moved to the current, more formal dining room setting. Sure, it’s more conducive to long, private gossip sessions but there was a certain charm in hanging out at the coffee bar.
As the new millennium began, Tim Hortons caused a stir with their “Always Fresh” conversion, switching from baking fresh doughnuts and muffins on-site to heating up partially baked, flash-frozen goods trucked in from Brantford, Ontario. Franchise owners were up in arms and in 2008, they tried to sue the company in a $2 billion class-action lawsuit but were unsuccessful. The judge ruled that the move to par-frozen products was a rational business decision.
The pecan butter tart may have been the Canadian classic in the “Bring it Back” contest but according to Twitter, this other gooey treat is very much missed in Tim Hortons locations throughout Canada. The Nanaimo bar, named after the quaint community of Nanaimo, B.C., is barely known outside of our borders but is well loved as a signature Canadian treat, crammed with melted chocolate and vanilla custard butter icing on a bed of wafer crumbs.
Our Canadian secret
Remember the days before you could grab Timbits from Times Square or a “medium double-double” from a rural convenience store in Ireland? In February, the chain announced they’ll be expanding even more, with 800 new locations opening across North America (many in a kiosk format) and 220 locations in the Middle East. While we’re happy our little coffee chain has grown up and ventured out into the world, there was something sentimental about having it as our little Canadian secret and owning the “double-double.”
Cold Stone Creamery
Also announced in February, Canadian Tims locations are parting ways with their Cold Stone Creamery counterparts, citing the need to minimize long lines and add express coffee service. Even if the coffee-and-ice cream combo wasn’t your thing, there was something convenient about whipping in for an Iced Cap and picking up a full, frozen cake for that special occasion you completely forgot about.
Egg salad sandwiches
Sweet treats may be well loved but there’s been Twitter chatter about the egg salad sandwiches of the past. What is it about buns full of hard-boiled egg and mayonnaise that has people feeling so nostalgic? Some claim that it was the best protein option for vegetarians and others simply want it back because it was delicious.
Cake and pie displays
Do you have fond memories of stopping into Tim’s with your parents and peering up at the little cakes with your heart aflutter, thinking “maybe this time?” The spinning cake display was the thing childhood dreams are made of, shining a spotlight on the extra-extravagant treats like an oozing piece of pie, a hunk of black forest cake or a special birthday slice. Odds are you didn’t score one very often, but it was fun to dream.
Tim Hortons’ current uniforms are on the conservative side but over the years, employees have rocked some pretty awesome outfits, including these amazing headband-like hats. Some of the old uniforms are best left in the past (like the 1960s miniskirts) but bringing back the retro hats along with a retro menu item could add a little flair to what’s otherwise a bit of a bland getup.