Saturday 5 June 2021

Beware! The Ultimate Canadian Donut Rush

Canadians are very Canadian when it comes to loving donuts!

On a recent world donut day, I was listening to the Calgary CBC Eye Opener as hosts David Gray and Angela Knight helped us celebrate.

Listeners were texting and emailing their favorite sweet treat. As the volume increased the tone of the messages became harsher and there was a real danger the conversation might spiral out of control and into a full-on viral donut war! For the record, mine is an apple fritter.

The idea of a revolution caused by donuts would be hard to imagine in any part of the world but Canada. We love our donuts!

Tim Horton's Revolt

Remember when #TimHortons tried to centralize donut baking in regional centers? The uproar shell-shocked the senior executives of the Brazilian investment company that owns Tim's.

They soon backed down. Canadians are very protectionist when it comes to fresh-baked donuts.

Tim Horton's Donuts and hockey are an experience in Canadian culture! I shared this with my grandson.

Crashing the Market

That brings us to Krispy Kreme. Remember when they opened their first Canadian location near Calgary's Sunridge Mall?

The year was 2001. What made the location unique and different was that it was a factory store. 

Large windows allowed you to watch bakers baking, dippers dipping, and sprinklers sprinkling the fresh-made donuts prior to them being momentarily placed in a display counter. I say momentarily because the pent-up demand from lines of salivating people meant they were only on display for a moment.   

Traffic Control

People lined up for hours just to taste a Krispy Kream Donut. The company organized the parking lot with traffic cones to lay out the path cars had to snake their way through and then wait for their turn to park. I believe there were four lines. 

The traffic was directed by uniformed traffic managers. They directed cars forward using plastic glow sticks like you see on the tarmac of an airport when personnel guide Jumbo Jets into the terminal.
Once you were parked, you lined up, edging slowly forward until it was your turn to enter the building. There were crowd control stanchions set up similar to those used in a busy bank on a Friday afternoon.

The company even set up a large open-sided tent to protect the snaking people from sun and rain. The wait was long enough for the weather to change which can be an hourly possibility in Alberta!
And, the final evidence of the companies safety concerns? Security guards opened the door for each customer as they reached the head of the line.

Keeping the Donuts Safe 

Yes, you heard it right! They had security guards guarding the door of a donut shop! Come to think of it, the process foreshadowed the security shakedown we've all gone through before being allowed into mall stores during COVID-19!

All of these precautions were in place to keep order. The management of Krispy Kreme realized the potential for danger if Canadians were allowed free reign in a donut shop.

The long lines kept up for several weeks after the store opened. My wife and I planned to go on several occasions but gave up after discovering how long the wait times were. We finally went weeks after the opening and our experience was somewhat anticlimactic because we didn't have to wait in line.  

Donut Irony

The irony is that Canadians never really bonded with Krispy Kreme donuts. The euphoria died down over a period of years. According to the company website, there are only a few stores left in eastern Canada and none in Alberta.

The company failed to understand the relationship between Canadians and their donuts. It's about subtleties in taste. Tim Hortons also offered a wider variety of menu choices with soups and sandwiches. 

I should also mention the cultural roots of the brand loyalty to Tim's. For 5 decades,  kids have been taken to Tims's by their parents. Those kids eventually became parents, and then grandparents, and later great-grandparents who took generations of family to Tims. 

A Tim Horton's is a place to talk, listen, laugh, and celebrate. It's also a place to share sad times of life with friends and family.  

It's a place to renew old acquaintances and make new ones. You never know who you'll meet at Tim's. 

It's also about consistency. You always know what you'll get at Tim's locations from coast to coast to coast. I know American bands and music groups who look for a Tim's as soon as they cross the border headed for Canadian concert dates.  

For them, the fact that most Tim Horton's are open 24 hrs. makes them a welcome time for a refresh for musicians dead-heading through the night to their next date in their tour buses.  

It is a brand experience in every sense of the word. We should note that the building I've written about is now a Tim Hortons. 

Canadian just couldn't get that feeling for Krispy Kreme donuts!

The End 

Your Opinion Matters. Do you have a donut story? Please share it below?

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1 comment:

  1. Ha, I remember the masses carting out boxes of Krusty Kreme after a Chamber of Commerce meeting downtown. I took about 3 boxes back to the old Alberta Distort magazine, divided them up and fed the entire office building with 14 baskets left over. Beleev dat!!