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Please Advise! Tim Hortons’ New Pizza. Toss It?

Why risk war with Italy? Did we learn nothing from McSpaghetti?

Steve Burgess 22 Apr 2024The Tyee

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Read his previous articles.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Tim Hortons is selling pizza now. Is that a good idea?

Signed,

Anne Chovy

Dear Anne,

Let's not jump to conclusions here — we don't know for sure that it's pizza. It appears the issue is still being litigated. Reviews of the new product have been neither kind or definitive — Tim's pizza has been described as “flatbread with toppings.” Considering that religious wars have been fought over the question of whether a hot dog is a sandwich, we can expect strife. Our diplomatic relationship with Italy must surely be in peril.

This is not the first time Canada has risked international hostility through the medium of pizza. In 2018, Iceland's president Guðni Jóhannesson expressed his conviction that pineapple pizza, Canada's most infamous culinary innovation, should be banned. Tensions rose, code marinara was declared, icy snowball stockpiles grew in Ottawa and Reykjavik. But according to Hlynur Guðjónsson, Iceland's ambassador to Canada, the parties stepped back from the brink. “It was finally put to rest when your prime minister and our president met during his state visit in June,” he says. “Yeah, high level meetings, high level meetings.”

Now we are tweaking the sensitive noses and palates of our Italian allies. NATO has enough problems without this kind of internecine warfare. How will Italy react to the arrival of this unholy cheese-drenched mutant, showing up among krullers and maple-glazed doughnuts like a pigeon performing Swan Lake?

There are signs. Literally. In Italy, signs in front of certain pizza parlours declare, “Vera Pizza Napoletana.” Earning the designation means adhering to strict guidelines and making pizza the Neapolitan way. Perhaps in light of this Canadian development, Italians will put up new signs to warn of pizza-like abominations. Perhaps those signs will say: “Tim Hortons” (in Italian of course).

Tim's also serves coffee, another Italian specialty that natives of Rome or Genoa might not recognize over here. As gladiatorial contests gradually devolved to dropping the gloves at centre ice and eventually all the way down to “Roll Up the Rim to Win,” so too did the electrifying jolt of Italian java give way to the limp handshake of a Double-Double. Tim's pizza, it would seem, is to Italian pizza as Tim's coffee is to Italian coffee; as the salamander compares to the crocodile, the puddle to the Pacific, Elon Musk to Albert Einstein.

A photo of a Tim Hortons' menu sign that includes flatbread pizza.
Bucking the trend: Tim Hortons' ventures where others have flopped. Photo via X.

Hybrids can work — think of the cronut. And, of course, our own Japadog. But then there was McSpaghetti. And the McCrab. And for that matter, McDonald's pizza. All flops, as was the Dunkin' Donuts pizza attempt (the streams of pizza and dunking must never cross). Learn the lessons, a marketer might advise Timmy's. Stay in your lane. Hockey player coffee and doughnut chains should not do pizza.

On the other hand, Italians play hockey. Not particularly well, for the most part. So what? They don't need to ask our permission.

For that matter, there is a hockey team in Nashville. Yes, it's wrong. We in Vancouver don't churn out insipid, formulaic country songs that essentially function as identity politics in 4/4 time. Why should Nashville dabble in hockey?

But they do. And we help. The Predators, first round NHL playoff opponents of the Canucks, have more B.C.-born players than the Canucks do. As legendary scout Karl “Red” Marx once said, the capitalists will sell us the solid, puck-moving defencemen we need to defeat them.

Nashville plays hockey, Tim Horton's sells pizza. It's all topsy-turvy. Next thing you know, KFC will be selling chicken-scented fire logs.

Ultimately the primary impact of Tim's pizza might be to finally lift Domino's off the bottom rung. But Tim Hortons' bizarre status as a Canadian national emblem does not depend on the success of its latest offering. They are and will remain, for some reason, part of our identity. Some nations get Cicero, Virgil, Michelangelo. We got Timmy. And perhaps in the end, each nation gets the pizza it deserves.  [Tyee]

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