Back in the 1980s, the highlight of a two-hour trip to the city for me was the stop at Tim Hortons on the way home. My sister and I were allowed three doughnuts each. I took my allotment in Boston Creams. They never lasted the full ride.
That was three decades ago. I still crave that combination of chocolate icing, fried dough and custard filling. All that binge eating corrupted my dopamine system, which is responsible for human desire. Pleasure is a separate chemical response; that is why heroin, caffeine and sugar addicts continue to want their drug of choice even if they no longer like it. Dopamine is the biochemical on which the quick service restaurant industry was built. Tim Hortons was as good at harnessing it as anyone.
Fortunately, I have been able to avoid Tim Hortons as my hair greyed and my metabolism slowed. It hasn’t been difficult. I have lived mostly abroad for the past decade, and Tim Hortons—like most of Canada’s local corporate heroes—dislikes the riskiness of foreign markets. At the end of the second quarter, 80% of the company’s 4,776 outlets were in Canada. The rest were in the U.S., notwithstanding a redoubt of 65 restaurants in the Persian Gulf.
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