CBC Digital Archives

Tim Hortons: Always fresh?

Are the words "Timbit" and "double-double" part of your vocabulary? If the answer is yes, you must be Canadian. Despite the fact that it was bought by an American company in 1995, Tim Hortons seems to have injected itself into the centre of our Canadian identity. Started as a small doughnut shop owned by hockey legend Tim Horton, there are now more than 3,000 Tim Hortons locations. CBC Digital Archives looks at the evolution of Tim’s.

media clip
Two Tim Hortons employees contemplate an empty shop and a full coffee pot. "Almost 20 minutes," says one with regret. When that 20 minutes is up, claims the ad, any remaining coffee will be dumped to make a fresh pot - it's Tim's policy. So when Halifax teen Julia Grady noticed the coffee at her local Tim's sit for 45 minutes, she called the CBC teen consumer program Street Cents. Their mission: to investigate Tim Hortons' claim its coffee is "always fresh." Conclusion: not always.
• Upon its launch in 1989 the mandate of Street Cents was to make kids and teens more aware of advertising, media and money. The show ran commercial-free. Its regular features included debunking ad claims and critiquing consumer items aimed at teens. It stopped airing in 2006.

• In 1988, CBC Halifax created a pilot for the show that would become Street Cents. The working title for the program was Money Penny.

Street Cents debuted with four young hosts who were about the same age as the show's target audience. One of them was Jonathan Torrens, who would stay with Street Cents for seven seasons before moving on to his own program for a teen audience, Jonovision.

• In its early seasons Street Cents had several animal mascots: pigs Penny and Nickel, a Vietnamese potbellied pig named Moui, and two hedgehogs, One-Bit and Two-Bit.

• In 1991 the TV critic for the Toronto Star wrote: "Of all CBC's regular TV shows, Street Cents is the smartest, most original, and... one of the network's most successful undertakings." He called the show "fast and funny" and "a model of TV ingenuity."

• The Globe and Mail's money columnist also applauded Street Cents. "If your children and grandchildren aren't watching, they should be," said Ellen Roseman. "The message comes across in jokes and skits, not lectures."

• In January 1996 a New Brunswick pizza chain sought a legal injunction against a rebroadcast of an episode of Street Cents. The show had aired a parody of a Pizza Hut ad with a pizza outlet called Pizza Shack - the name of the New Brunswick 17-store chain. In the parody, diners ate the box and left the pizza. The judge ruled in favour of the CBC, but as a goodwill gesture the producers included a disclaimer with the rerun.

• Besides winning an International Emmy for best children/youth programming in 2001, Street Cents won at least seven Gemini awards.

• Because it aired without advertising, Street Cents had to turn to other sources of funding. Those sources included the Canadian Bankers Association, the Royal Canadian Mint, Union Gas, Revenue Canada, the Insurance Institute of Canada, Investors Group, Air Canada and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Medium: Television
Program: Street Cents
Broadcast Date: Oct. 25, 1996
Guest(s): Julia Grady
Host: Anna Dirksen
Duration: 3:16
Commercial copyright Tim Hortons.

Last updated: February 14, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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