As BK Takes Tim Hortons, Canadians Stay Loyal To Their National Icon

The takeover of Canada's Tim Hortons by Burger King is causing quite the stir in the great white north. Melissa Block talks with Ian Hardy, editor-in-chief of Inside Timmies, a fan site devoted to Tim Hortons, about the Canadian existential crisis over one of the country's cultural icons being taken over by an American corporation.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There are lots of worried Canadians right now with the news that Burger King is buying the iconic Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons because Tim Hortons isn't just another chain, it's part of the Canadian psyche. It's named after a hockey player - of course. Politicians make speeches at Tim Hortons, comedians do routines about it - like this from Scott Harris.

(SOUNDBITE OF COMEDY SHOW)

SCOTT HARRIS: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, is the home of Tim Hortons coffee. (APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: That's where they built the first Tim Hortons ever, that's where they came up with the recipe half coffee, half heroine.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: Nobody lines up behind 40 other cars at 6 o'clock in the morning for plain coffee.

BLOCK: Ian Hardy is one of those anxious Canadians who runs the site insidetimmys.com, devoted to all things Tim Hortons. And he joins us now from Toronto to explain why this is such a big. Ian, welcome to the program.

IAN HARDY: Thank you very much for having me.

BLOCK: And what was your reaction when you first heard the news that Burger King is buying Tim Hortons? What'd you say?

HARDY: I didn't believe it and I couldn't believe it. It was shocking actually, and then it's true.

BLOCK: Shocking and then it's true. In fact, on your website -I've been taking a peek at it - your headline was - "Hell Has Frozen Over."

(LAUGHTER)

HARDY: Like the only thing from a business stand point that is Canadian, that people know, is Tim Horton's.

BLOCK: Well, why don't you explain what the deep appeal of Tim Hortons? It's a doughnut chain, it's a coffee chain. Why does this strike such a deep chord for Canadians?

HARDY: I think there's a lot of things that Canadians and Canadian families have been part of - like myself, I grew up going to Tim Hortons. I now take my little boy there - well, I don't give him coffee, but I give him, like, a doughnut. We go there when we start our day and we go there on our road-trip and it's always there.

BLOCK: What's the buzz that you've been hearing from people who comment on your website or just when you go to a Tim Hortons - what are people saying about this sale to Burger King?

HARDY: I think the general reaction is really shocking, like, why are they doing this? Are things going to change? They still want it to be Canadian, they want it to feel Canadian. So they don't want it to change in a perspective that is going to lessen the Canadian heritage of it.

BLOCK: How many times a week would you say you go to a Tim Hortons, Mr. Hardy?

HARDY: Oh, at least 20.

BLOCK: Twenty? Really.

HARDY: Oh yeah. Oh, I go about three times a day, like, I'm crazy addicted.

BLOCK: Have you done the math of how much money you've dropped over the years at Tim Hortons?

HARDY: Thousands. I probably could've bought a franchise.

BLOCK: And your favorite things on the Tim Hortons menu - what would that be?

HARDY: I get a steeped tea - a medium steeped tea and double double with milk. If I was going to do a doughnut, it'd be the honey cruller - it's spectacular. It's this light, fluffy doughnut and if you rip it open, its little flakes of baked goodness in there. And it's filled with honey - light touches of honey - spectacular.

BLOCK: Well, Ian Hardy, thanks so much for talking to us about the special appeal of Tim Hortons. And I hope this transition goes OK for you. I know it's a traumatic time.

HARDY: I am going through some severe stress.

BLOCK: That's Ian Hardy, the editor-in-chief of insidetimmys - a website devoted to all things Tim Hortons. And one more note about the fast-food chain - this is not the first time it's been owned by an American company. Wendy's owned the chain between 1995 and 2006, a fact apparently unknown to Mr. Hardy until we mentioned it to him.

I know that kind of rocks your world.

HARDY: It does, very upsetting.

BLOCK: Mr. Hardy can rest a little easier though. As long as the acquisition goes through, Burger King will officially become a Canadian company.

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