The Strange Conspiracy Behind Tim Hortons Coffee

Since opening its first location in 1964, Tim Hortons has become a favorite breakfast go-to of many Canadian citizens. The quick-service chain specializes in coffee, tea, donuts, breakfast sandwiches, and specialty drinks, though some locations also offer a full food menu with soups, sandwiches, wraps, and more for lunch and dinner (via Forbes). The chain is popular across Canada, but has also expanded internationally to the United States, and operates over 4,700 locations worldwide.

While Tim Hortons does sell its blend of Arabica coffee grounds and beans to brew in the comfort of your own home, many people prefer the convenience of being able to stop by the drive-thru and grab a cup on their way to work. Some people became suspicious of the chain's success though and determined that there must be something more sinister brewing. One strange theory gained traction, and some are still shocked by the possible conspiracy.

A secret addition in every cup?

People have long been puzzled as to why customers are keen to wait in long lines for a cup of coffee each morning, rather than brew their own at home, or find a different coffee shop. Some thought they found the truth behind why Tim Hortons coffe is so seemingly addictive, according to The Takeout.

The theory went that the coffee chain was secretly adding nicotine to some aspects of its drinks. Some surmised that the nicotine was added to the coffee grounds themselves, so every single coffee customer was ingesting it with each drink. Others thought it might be more subtle, and that the coffee filters or to-go cups might contain the chemical instead.

Fortunately, Tim Hortons' patrons can sip their coffee happily knowing that the chain's drinks are completely nicotine-free. Snopes reports that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) oversees commercially sold foods, including Tim Hortons products. The CFIA ensures that dangerous chemicals, including nicotine, are not used in any aspect of the Tim Hortons coffee brewing process.

Where did the rumor start?

Snopes reports that people may have become suspicious due to the secrecy of Tim Hortons' coffee blend. One rumor stated that a customer began having an allergic reaction and needed to know what was in the coffee. The rumor went on to say that a Tim Hortons executive disclosed the ingredients list — revealing the addition of nicotine — to the doctor treating the patient. However, it's unknown where and when this rumor started, and it has since been disproven.

Other versions of the rumor suggest that the chain adds MSG instead of nicotine — an additive generally considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Still, others claim that the coffee contains extremely high doses of caffeine.

The coffee chain is far from the first to be accused of containing nicotine — the same thing has reportedly been said for Pokémon cards, McDonald's hamburgers, and its French fries. Fortunately, since these products are all tested and must be approved in order to be sold, customers don't need to worry about any sneaky, secret additives.