There are few restaurant chains in Canada that resonate as much as Tim Hortons does.
Sure, as kids we remember McDonald’s trips or the specialness of a Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat night (and the stomach aches that followed the day after); but as we matured “Timmy’s” became the undeniable king of standardized food joints, namely due to the need for caffeine in the morning.
Now this more ‘adult’ leaning (aside from the delicious donuts) is something that doesn’t necessarily lend well to a collectibles market that primarily focuses on kids (or the kid inside us); yet other older audience companies like LaBatt Breweries have created some truly cool items over the years.
This became especially apparent in recent weeks when Post re-entered the hockey collectibles market. It seemed curious to me that between the cereal brand, McDonald’s and its return to hockey cards last year with a specialty Montreal Canadiens release and Molson teaming with Panini that Tim Hortons wasn’t anywhere to be seen in collectibles, really throughout its history. There has never been a true premium project by Tim’s, say something like “buy 20 TimBits and get a commemorative hockey puck”.
The most publicized forays into the collectibles world, in fact, have come rather indirectly. These take the form of cash cards.
Sometimes referred to as gift cards, Tim’s has, for the last few years, issued hockey-themed rechargeable cash cards that drivers around Canada have picked up so as not to have to go change-holder digging while waiting in line for their morning jolt. Among these, most famously, was a Sidney Crosby card, printed in English for most of the country and French in Quebec.
But that and other Tims cards never cost anything; they literally sat in a display like any other card. It had 0 value until it was loaded.
So why the lack of memorabilia for a company that is so closely tied to Canada’s pastime? Well, it’s really difficult to say. Part of it, naturally, can be attributed to the licensing deal that the NHL, it’s PA and Hockey Canada had with McDonald’s; but that doesn’t stop Tim’s from going to individual players. Going back to Crosby, Sid the Kid had a spokesperson deal with Tim’s from the time he stepped skate in the league. This, by the way, is the reason Crosby only had one McDonald’s hockey card. He’s been featured as part of a couple other promotions such as a TimBits jersey bank, the pickings overall are slim for a player of his stature.
Yet for a company that bears a player’s name in its title has never struck with a true Crosby collectible, nor did it in the years’ past.
It’s truly a shame, and in the world of hockey collectibles, it’s a cardinal sin.
Hopefully when the NHL resumes, whenever that may be, Tim Hortons will capitalize more than they currently do, if for no other reason than for the frustrated hockey collector.
Jon Waldman has written about hockey for several publications over his decade-long journalism career, including The Hockey News, The Toronto Sun and Winnipeg Men Magazine. A graduate of Ryerson University’s journalism program, Jon is working on his first book on the history of hockey, to go along with two other books he has published since 2009.