Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tim Hortons Sucks, and You Know It!

The internet tubes are abuzz with news that Tim Hortons and Burger King are merging.

Americans are angry that another large multi-national is not paying their fair share of taxes, while Canadians are flipping out that their precious national coffee slinger is going to be taken over by Americans.

People easily forget that Timmy's was taken over by Wendy's back in 1995, and it didn't cause the brand to disappear.

If you really think that buying Tim Hortons or Molson Canadian beer makes you a good Canadian, then you are a marketer's wet dream. Supporting Timmy's is no more or less Canadian than buying coffee from a local cafe, or a gas station.

To quote BD Gallof:
Acting like it is some sort of national pride to eat processed fried dough and badly roasted, but drinkable, coffee beans is just plain silly.

I really don't understand why people feel the need to tie their nationality to a large corporation, especially one that has been acting more and more American the past decade.

While Timmy's used to be cool, and a box of fresh donuts would make the whole office happy, the franchise is no longer worth supporting. Those people mad about this deal have their priorities in the wrong place, and need to wake up to some basic truths.

Timmy's hires boatloads of Temporary Foreign Workers. 

Once upon a time, Tim Hortons used to air ads proclaiming that working at Timmy's was a great way to get started on a solid career, and even promoted their Scholarship Program. Timmy's was a place you could get a half-decent job, while working towards something better.

Realizing that paying workers decent wages stops the executives from buying a new Mercedes Benz each Thursday, Timmy's took to, instead, hiring piles of Temporary Foreign Workers.

Despite the fact that there are thousands of Canadians who could use a decent job, Timmy's would rather hire indentured servants from other countries, and pay them cheaper wages than actual Canadian citizens would be entitled to receive.

Timmy's claims to be a Canadian company, yet hires non-Canadians to fill jobs that Canadians could easily do. Yup. 

Tim Hortons donuts are not at all FRESH

Once upon a time, Tim Hortons actually baked the donuts, from scratch, in the individual stores.
Realizing that they could make more money by just having the stores warm up frozen dough, and thus requiring even less-skilled staff on hand, Tims forced franchises to switch, with some of them filing, and then losing a lawsuit.

At the heart of the case, which began in 2008, is what the judge describes as the “Always Fresh Conversion,” a shift from fresh baking in each store to a system of industrial par baking and flash freezing at a centralized plant in Brantford, Ont., followed by reheating in specially designed ovens.

Hmm, reheating dough? This sounds an awful lot like Pillsbury products.

The last few times I've seen Timmy's in the office, there was more of a collective 'meh'. Donuts used to be OMGZ EXCITMENT!!!!11111, but it has been replaced by, "Ok, cool, a free snack... I guess".

Their Timbits are laced with Crack Cocaine

OK, maybe not, but they are far too addicting. Any time somebody brings a box of them to the office, or some other party, I end up eating far more of them than I should. I don't find them particular awesome, and they seem far too bland for the calories they contain, but I seem to end up scarfing down a half-dozen before I realize what I've done with my life.


So, what is Canadian about heavily-processed, reheated food and hiring Temporary Foreign Workers? Tim Hortons has been acting more and more American each year, and is about as Canadian as Basketball now is.

If you want to be a good Canadian, and support Canadian businessess, go to your local coffee cafe. Not only do you support the hiring of Canadian workers, but you'll actually keep the money in your community, and probably get better food out of the deal.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Vancouver's Food Truck Follies

One of the recent trends in Vancouver has been the explosion of Food Trucks on the streets.

While other major cities in North America have an abundance of these mobile kitchens, it wasn't until 2010 that Vancouver had its first. Now, we have over 100.

To understand why it is such a big deal, you have to know that Vancouver has always been behind the times and quite strict about food safety for mobile food sellers.

I remember how big of a deal it was when the first street hot dog vendors (Mr. Tube Steak!!!!!) were allowed to start operating about 20-odd years ago. While other big cities had plenty of these street meat hawkers, Vancouver didn't start catching up until my early teens. It's no surprise that we didn't get food trucks until just a few years ago.

Unfortunately, the food truck industry in Vancouver has been, to my experience, one GIANT disappointment.

Here is what I expect from a mobile food seller: Fast and cheap

Here is what Vancouver Food Trucks (VFTs) are generally not: Fast and cheap

One reason I'd want to go to a VFT is to get a quick meal to go. If I had the time, I'd go to a cafe or restaurant, so going to a street vendor is for time-saving purposes.

VFTs fail largely in this regard, with 7-15 minute waits not uncommon. Fresh food does take time to prepare, but many VFTs don't seem to have certain staples prepared beforehand, and efficiency is lacking.

VFTs have nowhere to sit, and you are often left there standing in the baking hot sun with nothing to do.

Prices at the typical VFT also mirror that of most small cafes and some restaurants, which is to say it is not cheap. $10-15 for a small meal is the norm with many VFTs, and the quantity of food doesn't make up for it. (Although that isn't as much of a concern to me these days). 

I'm not sure the quality of food makes up for the prices, either. I've had one fish & chips that was so oily that I had to throw it up an hour later, I've tried the famous "Japadog" (overrated, but still tasty), and found most dishes to be pretty much of average quick-food quality.

I understand every business has costs to cover, and Vancouver's licenses aren't cheap, but the food trucks don't have the brick-and-mortar costs that a typical restaurant has, nor do they need to hire serving staff. VFTs should be able to offer lower prices due to lower overhead, but it doesn't happen.

(c) The Vancouver Sun

From anecdotal internet talk and other things I've read, it seems that other cities with food trucks have it better, and have it right.

Honestly, downtown consumers are better off going to any of the numerous food courts at the malls here. You get air conditioning and protection from the elements, you don't have to wait as long for the food, and the prices are a bit lower. The quality is about the same, too.

Mobile food trucks are a great concept, and seem to be popular, for the time being, but I still fail to understand how they will continue to be successful if they cannot offer any time or money savings from the thousands of other options we have in this city.