In a thread over at Metafilter about Tim Horton’s expanding into New York, someone notes:
As a new immigrant to Canada (Toronto in particular), I still don’t understand the Tim Hortons thing.
There’s a reason Timmie’s is so universal an element of Canadian culture: it’s particularly Canadian in that it transcends class. Tim’s coffee isn’t particularly good coffee and the doughnuts are average at best (they used to be quite good, then the delivery model took over and now the selection is hit-and-miss – although the pumpkin spice donuts, when they show up, are brilliant).
But absolutely everybody will be satisfied with it in any situation. The glory of Tim’s is that everybody in Canada is familiar with it and it’s okay food; CEOs eat Tim’s donuts as often as their plant workers do. You show up at work and no matter what type of work you do or how important your job is, once or twice a week somebody brings a box of Tim’s donuts for everybody. I’ve been to law firms that have their own enormous, well-staffed kitchens with private menus – and they have empty Tim’s boxes in the lounge. Always.
That’s a very egalitarian thing; the well-to-do of American society just aren’t the same way about, say, McDonald’s. Tim’s is a reminder to Canadians that we’re all the same, deep down, and to Canadians that’s a very satisfying thing to remember.