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Tim Hortons Coffee Contains Nicotine

Netlore Archive: Email rumor claims Tim Hortons Coffee contains nicotine, posing a danger to smokers and/or people who are allergic to nicotine.

Description: Rumor / Forwarded email
Circulating since: May 2006 (email version)
Status: False

Email example contributed by Jud G., May 22, 2006:

Are you a Non- Smoker or Against smoking all together ?

Do you ever wonder why you have to have your coffee every morning?


A man from Arkansas came up to Canada for a visit only to find himself in the hospital after a couple of days. Doctor's told him that he had suffered cardiac arrest. He was allergic to Nicotine. The man did not understand why that would of happened as he does not smoke knowing full well he was allergic to Nicotine. He told the doctor that he had not done anything different while he was on vacation other than having Tim Horton's coffee. The man then went back to Tim Horton's and asked what was in their coffee. Tim Horton's refuses to divulge that information. After threatening legal action, Tim Horton's finally admitted.....


A girl I know was on the patch to quit smoking. After a couple of days she was having chest pains & was rushed to the hospital. The doctor told her that she was on a Nicotine overload. She swore up & down that she had not been smoking. SHE WAS HAVING HER COFFEE EVERY MORNING. Now imagine a woman who quits smoking because she finds out that she is pregnant, but still likes to have her Tim Horton's once in a while.


Analysis: For those unfamiliar with Tim Hortons, it's Canada's most beloved and best-selling brand of coffee, with over 3,000 retail outlets nationwide. The company prides itself on the high quality and consistency of its products.

The rumor that Tim Hortons coffee contains nicotine (or, as another variant claims, the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG) began circulating via word of mouth in the early 2000s and erupted in email form in 2006. About.com's Coffee and Tea expert Sean Paajanen has debunked both versions of the rumor, citing a company statement and chemical test results as evidence that the coffee is additive-free.

Similar falsehoods have circulated about other brand-name products over the years, including McDonald's hamburgers, to which nicotine is allegedly added "to make them addictive." If true, McDonald's would have long since run afoul of the FDA and USDA, which regulate additives and set labeling requirements for all food and beverage products sold in the United States.

Word-of-mouth variants

Contributed by a reader, July 11, 2002:

A friend recently told me that a co-worker's boyfriend works for an independent research lab that randomly tests consumer products and they found nicotine has been added to the coffee sold at Tim Horton's (Canada's largest chain of coffee/donut shops).

Contributed by a reader, Feb. 27, 2004:

I am an American who has lived in Canada for 30 years. I just came across what appears to be a Canadian UL. We have two major donut/coffee chains, Tim Horton's (founded many years ago by an NHL player who died in a car crash and Robin's (which was apparently founded by an exec from Horton's who left and started what was, at the time, a literal clone). At any rate, the coffee at Horton's is really great, if not even "addictive". So, you can likely guess what's coming. The rumor is that Horton's is adding nicotine to their coffee. (A web search on Google with Tim Horton's nicotine coffee will give you a good idea how widespread this is.)

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Sources and further reading:

Nicotine in Tim Hortons Coffee?
About Coffee & Tea, March 2005

Disclosure: Brimming with Caffeine and Nicotine?
CBC-TV, 17 February 2004

Is There Nicotine or MSG in Tim Hortons Coffee?
Tim Horton's Coffee Company FAQ

Last updated: 08/15/10

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