Tim Hortons opens to long, donut-loving lines at Mall of America

A customer totes his Timbits out of the just-opened Tim Hortons Mall of America.

A customer totes his Timbits out of the just-opened Tim Hortons Mall of America. Mecca Bos

Most customers were toting happy-meal sized boxes of Timbits after waiting in a long but quickly moving line at the Twin Cities’ first Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shop.

The Canadian chain officially opened yesterday at the Mall of America. (True fans will have already scored some of the beloved donut holes during the soft opening last Sunday.)

With 4,000 locations worldwide and steadily growing, Tim Hortons enjoys a fierce cult-like following, and evidence of it was on full display at MOA.

But what’s the big deal? Like many phenomena, the Tim Hortons obsession is difficult to put a finger on, unless you “get it.” For Canadians, it’s an obvious taste of home, but American fans are just as fervent.

One Canadian we spoke to, Jacqueline Di Giacomo, says we shouldn’t try to compare it to anything else.

“It’s more of a feel. After a game, after dinner, it’s where you go. It’s where you hang out.” She said she dropped everything to come to the opening today, and is making off with a 40-pack of Timbits that she says she doesn’t dare touch until she gets them home to the kids. She's also bringing a 20-pack to her Canadian-born friend who couldn't make it today. 

The yeast-based Timbits (also available in cake) proffer a pillowy bite and not-overly sweet edge that explain how a person could polish off a 10-pack. They come in boxes of 10, 20, and 40 for $1.99, $2.99, and $6.99, respectively, which could make these a dangerously affordable habit.

But if we heard any one message from the many corporate types attending to the throngs, it’s that Tim Hortons is not just a donut shop. It's a cafe and bake shop, and they’d like it to be known for its sandwiches, soups, and good coffee as much as the delectable little bite-sized addictions.

The food and coffee exist in the fast food/fast-casual sphere that’s somewhere between McDonald’s and Panera. In other words, a quick meal can be had for a fair price. 

Muffins, cookies, Danish, and bagels are among the other bakery items. We also intrepidly tried the company’s famous beverage item, the Double Double, a coffee with double cream and double sugar. If you’re a cop working the overnight shift or a college kid pulling an all-nighter, it might come in handy. Otherwise skip it unless you’re looking for an instant toothache.

As the only donut shop in the mall, they’re sure to make an absolute killing. The little handled cartons are perfect for perambulating and popping little bites of shopping fuel, Timbit by Timbit.

Five more Minnesota stores are coming, in Brainerd, International Falls, Dinkytown, Brooklyn Park, and East Lake Street.

60 E. Broadway, Bloomington