Who exactly was Tim Horton? How long have his outlets been sneaking over the border? And what happened to the apostrophe?
The company generally opens about twice as many locations yearly as McDonald’s does, and commands a whopping 62 percent of the Canadian coffee market, compared to Starbucks’ seven percent. It also accounts for about a quarter of all fast food revenues in Canada.
Miles Gilbert “Tim” Horton spent 24 years as a defenseman in the NHL, playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres, and was widely regarded as the strongest man in the game. Before opening the doughnut chain, he also tried his hand at a hamburger restaurant and a Studebaker dealership.
For die-hard fans, CIBC offers a Visa credit card that doubles as a Tim loyalty card.
Sadly, Horton was killed in 1974 at the age of 44 in a car crash, on his way home to Buffalo after a game in Toronto. Horton’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and he lost control of the car while speeding. Co-Founder Ron Joyce paid his widow Lori $1 million for the then 40 locations, becoming the sole owner.
Being bought out by a huge fast food chain is actually nothing new for Tim Hortons. From 1992 until the company went public in 2006, Hortons was owned by Dave Thomas's popular burger chain. Hortons CEO Ron Joyce (pictured) controlled more shares of Wendy’s than even Thomas did, though, until Joyce sold his stock — today worth about $1.2 billion — and retired.
Along with coffee and doughnuts, Tim Hortons also sells bagels, sandwiches, panini, and wraps, and when all is said and done they command a massive share of the baked goods market. If you’re eating a doughnut in Canada, it’s most likely from Tim’s.
When the company was first founded, there was an apostrophe in the name, but today there’s none. The reason? They were breaking the draconian “language sign laws” of Quebec, which bars apostrophe use (because French, one of Canada's two official languages, doesn't use an apostrophe to indicate possession), so they did away with it in order to standardize their sign.
In 1981, the first U.S. locations opened in Deerfield and Pompano Beach, Fla. Sales were dismal, so they closed soon after. But they wouldn’t be gone for long…
Locations are scattered throughout the U.S., and today there’s a plan in place to open hundreds across the Persian Gulf region. The chain’s products are also available at SPAR convenience stores and Tesco supermarkets in Ireland and Scotland, as well as at the Dublin Zoo.
That’s above the Arctic Circle!
Tim Hortons has locations on seven Canadian military bases and four American bases, and operated a location on a Kandahar, Afghanistan base from 2006-2011.
Odds are, if you look into a garbage can anywhere in Canada, you’ll see at least one Tim Hortons cup.