Tim Hortons goes beyond the double-double

Tim Hortons sells lattes and lasagna now. What’s next—macrobiotic crullers?

Beyond the double double

Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

So Tim Hortons sells lasagna now, which makes sense because lunchtime is when our workplaces finally stop smelling like the company’s breakfast sandwiches. Now the pungent aroma of hot beef and tomato sauce can prevail from noon until the Ritual Mid-Afternoon Microwaving of Popcorn By the Colleague We All Secretly Hate.

Even so, Tims selling bowls of lasagna casserole is a little weird, right? The company’s commercials seem to acknowledge this. A guy buys the stuff for lunch and his work pals are like, “Tims sells WHAAAA?” One character seems equally thrilled and confused by the notion, as though the very idea is utterly mad—like going to Starbucks for good chow mein or Red Lobster for good seafood.

And now the iconic coffee chain is starting to serve lattes, too, because apparently people in smaller towns across the country have been demanding the right to overpay for warm milk. One thing is for sure: Tims getting into the latte business is a body blow to Canadian political rhetoric. What easy symbol will aspiring populists now co-opt to identify and belittle the so-called elites of the land? This could be the break you’ve been waiting for, artisanal bread.

Both of these new products—lasagna and lattes—surely had their genesis in the Tim Hortons Innovation Centre, which is an actual thing that actually exists in Oakville, Ont. Few have glimpsed the centre’s inner workings, which frees us to imagine rooms of caged monkeys enslaved to test experimental recipes in the presence of stern-faced, white-coated scientists. Tuesday, 2:43 p.m.: Subject found shivering and traumatized after trial consumption of Formula CX-17, Powdered Timbit with curry-cream filling. (Be sure to keep this “imagined” scenario in mind should Tims ever unveil a line of monkey chowder.)

What tasty wonders can we expect next from the Tim Hortons Innovation Centre? Only Maclean’s can lift the veil.

According to my sources, much of the centre’s current work is devoted to doughnuts. For instance, there is an ongoing quest to find a more efficient way of getting jelly into the jelly doughnut. Right now the leading methods are “microbiotic macro-compression air technology” and “magic.” This important work is taking place next to a lab devoted to determining if the principle behind One Second Plumber might also work to clear arterial blockages.

Down the hall, Tims has long been trying to create an apple fritter that comes with a built-in defibrillator. The trick is getting the paddles to fire at the right time to shock the heart from the esophagus. Too late and there’s a slight risk of a side effect known as “pancreas explosion.”

The innovation centre is no stranger to professional conflict. Though most researchers scoff, there is a rebel element that believes it’s possible to make the Boston cream doughnut up to 26 per cent “Bostonier.” Others belittle fledgling work on the creation of self-aware Timbits that we’ll blithely accept as an inevitable by-product of progress but will one day rise up and kill us all (sour cream glazed only).

Researchers are also rumoured to be focus-grouping a new line of healthier doughnuts with superior nutritional content. According to internal buzz, the doughnuts are expected to come with 20 per cent less fat, 70 per cent less taste and 100 per cent less anyone ever buying them.

What you may not know about the Tim Hortons Innovation Centre is that many of its experiments are highly theoretical in nature. Think of it as a Perimeter Institute for fried dough. For the past several years, a dedicated team has been working to prove that conditions in the universe could allow for the existence of a “cruller wormhole,” wherein a customer could devour a doughnut and be instantly transported through time and space to his fatter self.

Sometimes these theoretical experiments generate real-world applications. A current example: after three years of running calculations through a supercomputer, the company is finally poised to reveal a more aerodynamic Roll Up the Rim cup, which is 17 per cent easier to throw away dejectedly.

Speaking of which, a personal request by way of conclusion: surely the technology exists whereby my Roll Up cup can be programmed to respond, “He’s right, you know” after I say, “Dammit, I never win anything!” If I’m not going to walk away with the car, I’d at least like some sympathy and validation.

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