This Guy Runs the World’s #1 Tim Hortons Fansite
A few weeks ago, we discovered a Tim Hortons fan site so strange that we thought it was a clumsy, failed attempt at subversive marketing. It felt too odd to be true, so we contacted the owner, Ian Hardy, to ask him why he chose to become the webmaster...
Screenshot of an actual post on Inside Timmies.
The internet is full of bizarre surprises that are so outlandish, they’re hard to take seriously. Think: Most WorldStarHipHop fight videos, or the website that inspired Eli Roth to make Hostel. A few weeks ago, we discovered something not nearly as dark, but certainly as hard to believe: a Tim Hortons fansite called "Inside Timmies," as if there is some kind of investigative reporting to be done within the ranks of Canada's most nationalistic coffee franchise. Inside Timmie's tackles hard-hitting topics related to Canada’s most insufferable "cloaked-in-the-flag" brand, complete with breathless reports on their new uniforms, and reports on whether or not your Crispy Chicken Sandwich is as crispy as their commercials claim they are. The blog generally sings the praises of a company that gave Canadians such glorious gifts as sandwiches that taste like cardbord with mayo on them, and cartoonishly atrocious coffee lids.
The site is full of the kind of earnestness that makes it hard to fathom that a real, live human is behind it (many of us at VICE Canada HQ suspected it was a clumsy attempt at subversive marketing), so we contacted the owner, Ian Hardy, to ask him why he chose to become the webmaster of a Timmie’s fan club, whether or not he’s on the Tim Ho’s payroll, and other important topics of conversation.
VICE: How are you?
Ian Hardy: I’m living the dream.
Let’s cut to the chase: Is this branded content?
What do you mean? It’s a website that I started because I love Tim Hortons. Everything that I write is unique or I find it or I created it.
You decided to create this independent of Tim Hortons?
Oh, yeah. But Tim Hortons knows about it. And so does their PR agency, but they have no affiliation with it at all.
Why Timmie's? Is it something to do with the Canadiana aspect of the company?
Well, yeah. I started drinking Tim Horton’s a few years ago, maybe 10 or 15 years ago—with their steeped tea. I became really addicted to it. I’m not really sure what they put into it, but I keep going back. I think there’s something in that steeped tea that keeps me spending $1.60 every single day, so… I just keep on drinking and I enjoy it. And of course, as a proud Canadian, I like to support the company.
How and why do you think Tim Hortons represents Canada?
I think Canadians have a deep cultural love for hockey and Tim Horton himself. The guy played for the Maple Leafs, the company started in Hamilton… there are deep, deep Canadian roots and a serious connection to our culture. Hockey, Tim Hortons, the concept of taking the kids in the car to the hockey game... there’s a number of things that make Tim Hortons really special and explain why Canadians love it so much.
What’s your day job?
I run other websites. One is MobileSyrup, which is a website dedicated to Canadian telecom and another one is a website called BetaKit. It’s a site on Canadian start-ups.
How much time a week do you devote to Inside Timmies?
Maybe an hour to two hours. It’s really just a hobby.
What do you friends think of it?
I kind of have some fun with it. Some of the reviews I do—like the most recent chicken burger, I take a measuring tape to it—so I try to have some real fun with it. My intention is not to make money off it, it’s more of a fun, creative outlet. But if they think it’s funny that I’m doing reviews of a muffin or a chicken sandwich, like who else would take a tape measure to measure the size or the weight of a chicken burger?
[Laughs] Do any of your friends think that it’s a little, uh, crazy?
I would think some of them do, but they know it’s all in good fun. It’s a lot of fun. It created an outlet that feeds my obsession.
Do you get fanmail?
I just really started it to be more devoted to it about two months ago when I rebranded the site, so now I do get a few emails a week. Some people come to me complaining about why Tim Horton’s took some things off the menu recently, so there’s a lot of good things and a lot of weird things that people send me. For example, some people were really upset about why Tim Horton’s stopped carrying gingerbread, or the way Tim Horton’s started cutting their sandwiches. Fascinating stuff, really. [Laughs]
What’s your favourite product other than the steeped tea?
The honey cruller. There’s actually honey in that thing.
What would you say is the coolest thing that’s ever happened inside a Tim Hortons?
I’ve heard people have gotten their wedding pictures there, which is completely bonkers to me.
[Laughs] So do you draw the line somewhere.
Usually when people take wedding photos, they go to a nice flowerbed. These folks went to a Timmies. It wouldn’t be my personal choice, even though I’m really addicted to it, mainly because my wife wouldn’t want it there… but… some people do. I’ve seen a Tim Hortons tattoo, I’ve seen nail art. And the most obscure thing that I’ve ever seen, I’m not too sure why people don’t stop before they get to the door when they’re doing the drive-through. I keep posting these articles like, "Another car smashes into a Tim Hortons." I don’t understand it. I think I’ve written maybe four or five articles of cars smashing through the front doors of a Tim Horton’s.
What’s your favourite Tim Hortons location? Where is it?
I live in Toronto’s Bloor West Village, but I go to the same one everyday. I don’t even need to speak to them, they know what I take. I go there, I get a steeped tea with two milks and two sugars, and a coffee for my wife.
Do you have any tips on winning Roll Up the Rim?
I don’t. I wish I did…but my record is like four for 44 now. And I’m counting.