Is There Nicotine in Tim Hortons Coffee?

And what about MSG?

Coffee in all its stages on table
Aaron McCoy/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Have you heard the rumor that Tim Hortons coffee is so darn good because they secretly add nicotine to it? It's a common urban myth that continues to circulate and often given as the reason why so many coffee drinkers are "addicted" to Tim Hortons.

On top of that, the nicotine rumor is often partnered with the theory that the Canadian coffee chain also adds MSG to their brew. Is either of these true or are they simply urban legends?

The Truth About Tim Hortons Coffee

In Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the monitoring and labeling of all food products in the country. When contacted about this matter, they were quick to state that this urban legend is certainly not true.

The agency pointed to 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. That's due to the simple fact that no level of nicotine is allowed in food products whatsoever. If it was in the coffee, the CFIA would have taken action long ago.

In 2004, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) did a story on the Tim Hortons urban legend as well. They took samples of the coffee to a lab for analysis and the results showed that absolutely no trace of nicotine could be found.

Another variation of this story is that Tim Hortons puts monosodium glutamate (MSG) in their coffee. It's an additive that is commonly used to enhance flavors and is found in everything from canned soup to instant noodles. When it comes to Tim Hortons coffee, this is also false.

These rumors are so widespread that Tim Hortons addresses the issue on their website, stating:

This urban myth is just that...a myth!
Tim Hortons would like to clearly state that there is absolutely NO nicotine or MSG 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 adds that it gets its coffee from several of the world's renowned coffee-producing regions and uses a premium blend of 100 percent Arabica beans. 

So what does make Tim Hortons so addictive? It's hard to say. The coffee is fresh and it's good, made with high-quality beans. Plus, their drive-thrus make stopping for a coffee quick and convenient. That's enough to keep many coffee drinkers coming back for more.

Other Nicotine-Laced Rumors

Tim Hortons isn't the only establishment that has been targeted with this kind of urban legend. According to Snopes.com, McDonald's has been accused of putting nicotine in their fries as well as their hamburgers. That is also not true.

There was even a nonfood myth that seemed even more ridiculous. This one said that a thin coating of nicotine was put on Pokemon trading cards so kids would become addicted to them. That, too, is absolutely false. The characters are cute and kids like what their friends like, so their popularity simply spread.