Thursday, September 09, 2010

Dog Nutz . . .

ACCORDING TO MACLEAN'S, things are not well in the Timmy's empire. The article, "Tim Hortons’ extra-large trouble trouble" highlights how, in the chase for the maximum profit squeeze, quality is perceived to be in decline. It all started when the honchos decided to get rid of in-store baking, in favour of "par-baked" 'nuts delivered from a giant mega-factory. Now, the honchos have sold their interest in the mega-factory, and after 2016, where the product will come from, is anybody's guess. Were I a franchise holder, I would be nervous . . . and some of 'em are starting to freak — and lawyer-up. Another company ruined by greedy MBA system-weasels.

Tim’s regulars may have a hard time swallowing the news that their maple dip is no longer produced under the Maple Leaf. As national symbols go, a Hortons donut is second only to a Hortons coffee. But Timmy’s selling baked goods from a freezer? That’s standard operating procedure, and has been for quite some time.

Yes, it was certainly a scandal back in 2003, when Hortons co-founder Ron Joyce confirmed the truth: that the company he built (and had recently left) replaced its in-store deep fryers with frozen globs of dough trucked in from a factory. “This is not a philosophy that I would have embraced if I still owned the company,” he famously boasted. One Hortons spokeswoman, convinced that she could stop the unflattering headlines, famously told a reporter that “until I confirm or deny anything, it simply doesn’t exist.”

It did exist, of course. And the backlash was swift. (Joyce’s words were especially damaging. “I’ve tried them,” he said of the new donuts. “And they’re certainly not the same.”) In time, though, most people eventually forgot—or simply stopped caring—where their honey crullers came from. Truth be told, many customers still have no idea that the donuts on display have to be defrosted.

But that is about to change. In the coming weeks, Tim’s devoted disciples will receive a very fresh reminder about just how much their donuts have evolved. Hortons’ historic decision to go frozen is now at the heart of a proposed $1.95-billion class action lawsuit that has exposed a bitter—and very personal—battle inside the country’s favourite coffee shop. Scheduled for a hearing in November, the high-stakes case pits store owners against senior executives, store owners versus each other, and even relative against relative. And no matter how many spokespeople try to control the message, the spat is sure to have some patrons pining for the old days, when the smell of deep-fried Dutchies hung in the air at their local shop.

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