15 May 2012

Oh, Canada - Metric Donuts

Last week, work sent me to Canada to receive some intensive training for my new role. While it pained me to leave the Bean and Baby at home so soon after she got here, this was a great opportunity to learn from the source, so off I went.

Monday was mostly a blur, as I hadn't gotten to sleep until around 0330. I spent most of breakfast looking up/trying to remember the conversions from °F to °C and miles to kilometers and such, so that I could blend in with the natives when they discussed such topics as distances and weather, then headed in to work to dive into training.

I actually had this conversation during the course of the week:

Local Coworker: Where are you staying?
Me: Down in Cambridge
LC: Cambridge? That's a bit far, isn't it?
Me: Nah, it's only 7 or 8 Tim's from here.
LC: Oh. That's not too bad, then...

Yeah. It's like that.
Tuesday, I decided I was going to check off one of the items on my Obligatory, Must-Do While In Canada list*, so I headed to Tim Horton's. For those of you wondering what a Tim Horton is (and too lazy to click on the link), it's a coffee/donut shop ubiquitous in Canada. Like if Dunkin' Donuts were somehow integrated into our national identity here in the States.

So Tuesday morning, I make a beeline for the Tim's that's right next to the hotel. Nobody else is in line, so when I find myself standing before a wall o' donuts (seriously, it's huge), I feel I have some time to make my choice. I am soon proven wrong, however, as a mass of 4-6 people walk in the door right after me, and the lady at the counter starts giving me a "c'mon-it's-not-rocket-science" look for holding up her line. While I agree with the overall sentiment, I am also keenly aware of the fact that while those people have all come through before and will be able to come back again, this guy flies back to Texas in less than a week, so I feel it important to make a wise choice.

I step up to the counter, and the conversation starts something like this:

Me: A coffee and a dozen honey-dipped donut holes please.

It's important to note that, while the label next to the less-than-donut options all indicate flavor, none of them indicated that they might be called anything but what I'm used to hearing them called here.

The conversation continues:

She: A coffee and what?
Me: Honey-dipped donut holes.
She: Do you want the donuts or the Timbits?
Me: The non-donut option. Say that for me again?
She: Timbits.
Me: Okay. Yes. A dozen honey-dipped Timbits.
She: Oh, they don't come in dozens. You can get 10, 20...
Me: ... your donuts are on the metric system? Wow. Yes, I'll have one deca-Timbit, please. Honey-dipped.

I'm still amused by this turn of events. Apparently, their full-size donuts are sold in the familiar base-12 system, but for their byproduct, base-10 is the norm. Are 17% of the holes from donuts somehow unrecoverable, making a 12:10 donuts:holes ratio when selling in batches make sense?

All that aside, imagine the size and shape of donut holes. Now saddle them with a moniker which could also be applied to Tim's naughties. Someone thought this was a good idea.

She: Alright. And what would you like in your coffee?
Me: Just coffee.
She: Any flavors or anything?
Me: Nope. Plain black coffee.
She: [aghast] Um... okay. Yeah, I can do black coffee. Sure...

It's difficult to convey in text, but imagine if you went to a burger joint and ordered just a few strips of bacon. That level of disbelief. Like she was going to have to go brew a new pot of coffee just for the crazy guy who ordered his black.

In the end, I was pleased both with the breakfast and beverage offerings, and stopped by a few more times while I was in town.

* The Obligatory, Must-Do While in Canada list:

  • Try Tim Horton's
  • Try poutine
  • When given the choice, drink Canadian beer
  • Try something 'southwestern', 'tex-mex', or 'barbeque' to see how it compares
  • See milk in a bag


  1. So...how does their bbq compare?

    1. The sauce was sweeter than what we have here, but overall, I really liked it.