Tim Hortons, Starbucks, And McDonald’s: Some Shocking Food Revelations

Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and McDonald’s have become synonymous with coffee and fast food in North America (i.e., United States and Canada). Some people find very little difference in what these three food companies offer in terms of taste and extra value. But when it comes to Starbucks, consumers expect coffee and fast food to be pricier than their counterparts.

Starbucks, after all, has always positioned itself as the high-end of coffee and fast food. So you can’t really say that Starbucks never warned you. This is why there is Second Cup, which tries to capture fallout consumers from the “haute couture” of coffee and quick eats — by offering the middle ground in pricing. However, in many cases, Second Cup and its copycats fail in their marketing objective.

Most people play favorites with their daily coffee and fast food needs. In fact, they seldom stray from just one choice day in and day out. As they say, we are creatures of habit. But what if you know that Tim Hortons’ sandwiches carry a lot more preservatives than normal?

A Tim Hortons manager in Toronto, Ontario, in Canada, who declined to be identified, says that in order to keep its sandwiches “Always fresh,” preservatives are added to most of its products, particularly Italian meats. The Toronto Tim Hortons manager, who started with the company as a baker, also said that it wasn’t always this way.

With the pressures of mass production and the tremendous growth in the number of franchises, the Tim Hortons manager disclosed that the company had to find a way to live up to its slogan at the sacrifice of consumer health. This only confirms a nagging suspicion that I have always had with Tim Hortons’ sandwich line.

Being a writer, I spend most of my time frequenting Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and McDonald’s. Obviously, I need tons of coffee to keep me awake at my job in the wee hours of the morning. And so for me, only the best coffee will do. Well, Tim Hortons is not necessarily the best and the strongest coffee in the world, but it manages to keep me awake at night so that I can meet my story deadlines.

So, just recently, I got into a habit of ordering a deli sandwich to go with my coffee — Italian, turkey, bacon club, Monterey Jack, etc. This put me on the path of trying out all the sandwiches in the Tim Hortons “arsenal,” until I started feeling a painful hardening in my chest and heart area.

In response to the pain that I was feeling, I stopped ordering any more Tim Hortons sandwiches and returned to my original favorite — the soup combo — which is usually a medium double-double (i.e. two sugar and two creams in proportion), a chicken noodle soup, and a very “sinful” donut like Boston cream. And guess what, the pain that I was feeling in my chest and heart area disappeared. So don’t expect me to eat a Tim Hortons sandwich again.

I strongly suspect, based on my experience, that the preservatives that the Toronto Tim Hortons manager was talking about are fully loaded into the food company’s sandwich line. The manager advised me to stay away from regularly consuming Tim Hortons foods if I value my health and my life.

Now I cannot say the same for McDonald’s burgers and other meat products, but so far, I have not experienced anything as nasty as the Tim Hortons experience. Instead, I have discovered three items that are the saving grace of McDonald’s. The first one is the smoothies which blend real fresh fruits like strawberries and bananas.

In contrast, Tim Hortons uses absolutely no fresh fruits in the firm’s smoothies line — just syrup. So even that is suspect with the Tim Hortons product lineup. That syrup could be crawling with sugar and preservatives.

The second saving grace of the McDonald’s menu? The fish fillet. It’s not only the most reasonably priced item in the McDonald’s food list. It’s probably the healthiest. McDonald’s uses wild Alaskan pollock for their McFish. And that means fish that has been caught in the wild instead of being raised in a crowded fish cage where the “prisoners” get very little “exercise.”

Let’s compare my own experience with the Huffington Post’s “10 Nutritionists Reveal What They’d Order At McDonald’s.” Now, what do you usually order at Mickey D’s? Feel free to comment below. Will your order change anytime soon after what you’ve read?

My third praise for McDonald’s is the McCafe. For decades, Tim Hortons was the dominant coffee joint in Canada. McCafe, however, is changing all that. I can never remember any time when a McDonald’s team member ever served me coffee that isn’t piping hot. But sadly, for Tim Hortons, I cannot say the same. Tim Hortons coffee temperature seems to vary from store to store and time of day — even though it claims to serve the freshest coffee brewed in the last 20 minutes or less. Furthermore, Timmies doesn’t have the option where the eighth coffee is free.

For these three items, Mickey D’s is definitely trouncing the originally Canada-based coffee line. As for Starbucks, well, the coffee is great and always hot, too. But sometimes, there are coffee pulps that get left over at the bottom of the cup. I think it has to do with the Seattle-based coffee company’s brewing system.

One used-to-be attractive feature of Starbucks was its reward system. It gave me a lot of free food in return for my purchases on my Starbucks gold card — well not anymore. Since April, the Starbucks rewards system has been overhauled, in response to customer feedback, according to a Business Insider report. This is highly questionable so I have stopped visiting Starbucks ever since. As for my Starbucks gold card, oh well, I will probably cut it up into pieces soon like I usually do with useless plastics in life.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]