At work a few days ago, we were all enjoying a fresh cup of Tim Hortons coffee and someone mentioned a theory why Tim's coffee is so darn good. Nicotine. I stopped in mid-sip. Was he kidding? He seemed to believe that Tim Hortons adds nicotine to their coffee to make it more addictive and that they kept the amount just low enough to slip under federal regulations. Well, I just had to check this out for myself.
Here in Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for the monitoring and labeling of all food products in the country. I contacted them about this, and they were quick to inform me that this urban legend is certainly not true. They pointed me towards a list of additives that are acceptable under the Food and Drug Regulations. This list is several pages long, and nicotine is not anywhere to be found. At least the part of the story where Tim Hortons keeps the nicotine levels 'below regulation standards' is clearly not true. NO nicotine is allowed in food products whatsoever.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation did a story on the Tim Hortons urban legend showing that it was false. And Tim Hortons addresses the nicotine issue on their website, stating:
This urban myth is just that...a myth!
Tim Hortons guests expect and deserve high quality coffee that is always fresh and consistent, along with fast, efficient service and all at a good value. Tim Hortons would like to clearly state that there is absolutely NO nicotine ... in our coffee. Tim Hortons coffee has NO ADDITIVES whatsoever. It is made only from a blend of the highest quality premium Arabica beans from several different coffee growing countries.
Tim Hortons decaffeinated coffee also contains no additives. It is decaffeinated through what is called the Swiss Water method, which is the purest manner of removing caffeine from the coffee. Tim Hortons believes that our focus on quality, service and value, is what keeps our guests coming back for more!
Tim Hortons adds that it gets its coffee from several of the world's renowned coffee-producing regions and uses a premium blend of 100% Arabica beans.
What About MSG?
Another variation of this story is that Tim Hortons puts MSG in their coffee. This is also false.
Tim Hortons isn't the only establishment that has been targeted for this kind of urban legend. According to Snopes.com, McDonald's has been accused of putting nicotine in their fries and/or hamburgers. My favorite variety of this myth, is that a thin coating of nicotine was put on Pokemon trading cards so kids would become addicted to them.
So what does make Tim Hortons so addictive? Well, I really can't say. It's fresh and it's good, and their drive-thrus make stopping for a coffee quick and convenient. That's enough to keep me coming back.