Tim Hortons, still struggling with coffee, tries its luck with clothing

I see Tim Hortons is still having an identity crisis.

Unable to crack the secret to conjuring a half-decent cup of coffee that doesn’t taste like watery suffering, the company keeps flirting with clothing. It’s as if The Gap tried to boost its bottom line with chicken balls.

Thursday is National Coffee Day. To celebrate this java holiday, Timmies is dropping a… new line of merch? Yes, apparently, it’s like on National Hamburger Day, when McDonalds sells pneumatic drills.

This new line of leisure wear, which even the homeless would wave off with stink eye, falls under the “Tims Run Club” branding. I guess that makes sense. When I see a Tim Hortons, I run like hell in the opposite direction.

The new line, which will not be featured in a future Vogue photo shoot, includes socks, hat, shirt and slides in “Double Double brown.” I think “slides” is another word for sandals. Then again, I used to think “Fruit Explosion Muffin” was not a literal warning about what might happen to your insides after you unwisely wash it down with a Frozen Hot Chocolate.

When I was a teenager, I loved Taco Bell. But not in a gazillion years would I have ventured to school in a Beef Soft Taco Supreme Hoodie. That would be a recipe to get stuffed into my locker before homeroom as bullies squirted hot sauce into my eyes and then stole my guac-tinted kicks.

Back then, food companies focused on food. They weren’t obsessed with tertiary merch. But Tim Hortons lost sight of its mission statement and core competency long ago and has now hastily turned on the lights inside a glazed sweatshop of cheap apparel.

We still can’t make coffee so let’s give these people T-shirts!

The “Premium Tims Run Windbreaker” on sale Thursday features “elbow padding” for “drive-thru comfort.” Psst, Timmies! If the limbs of your customers are going all pins-and-needles due to long wait times, maybe hire more staff instead of hawking protective windbreakers? By this logic, Service Ontario should be giving every visitor a sleeping bag.

One of the alleged selling points on the windbreaker is that it has an “insulated kangaroo pocket to keep your Tims goods warm.” Huh? Are people smuggling their Sausage Egg & Cheese Muffins across international borders on steam ships? Why do you need a jacket that doubles as a warming oven? I will partake in a martini at the end of the day, especially on days when I’m trying to write while simultaneously fending off outrage mobs. But at no point have I ever fancied a pair of cargo pants in which the pockets also serve as hip flasks. I am a person. I am not a kitchen.

Food and drink, it goes into this lifestyle ledge. Clothing, it goes there.

But here’s the biggest question of all in advance of Thursday’s merch drop: Why does any Canadian want to be a walking ad for Tim Hortons? I mean, why not buy jogging pants that calculate your risk of a privacy breach?

The clothing is also, at a visual level, ugly as sin. In one publicity shot, four young people are striking a hip-hop video pose outside a Tim Hortons. I don’t know. Did you just sign a recording contract or are you constipated after the Italiano Grilled Bagel? It’s tough to say.

I get the company is trying to corral street cred and maybe even cheeky irony with this goofy image. I get past merch has sold out in minutes. But these four people are the biggest losers I have ever seen. I wanted to reach into my laptop screen and hand over a few bucks so they could go get a hot meal and some new clothes that don’t scream “aspiring F1 pit crew.”

White socks with red bands and an “Always Fresh” emblazoned on the side of Double-Double slides is a look not even Elizabeth Olsen could pull off.

Tim Hortons? Fix your disgusting coffee and jack-up the freshness on your baked goods before you try to compete with Shein. Focus on store cleanliness and customer service. The only time I ever go to Tim Hortons is because my lunatic daughters are addicted to Timbits. And the locations I have visited are more depressing than a seminar on nuclear propulsion as delivered by Marjorie Taylor Greene.

I regret stuffing Tim Hortons into its locker yet again. I don’t like bullying. But, honestly, why can’t they make a cup of coffee that does not make me want to jump off the CN Tower? After past criticisms, I’ve heard from many readers, some of whom defended the chain since, where they live in the country, there are no real joe alternatives. I sympathize. I really do.

But mediocrity by necessity is still mediocrity.

I don’t understand the cult of Timmies in our midst that voluntarily guzzles down this vile swill. Why are you people going on these daily Tims Runs? You’d be better off making your own coffee, even if you substitute marbles for beans. You’d be better off quitting caffeine and taking up hallucinogenics.

And if what they’re trying to force-feed you wasn’t bad enough, now the company is trying to dress you. Resist!


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