Forget self-care. It’s time to self-carb.
Sugar cereal. The rattle in the bowl, the enlivening smell of sugar conjures memories of childhood, when, in the game of Stuffed Animal James Bond, a swizzle stick is a deadly weapon and a retractable pen, a jetpack. A time when my brother and I would peel the plastic embellishments off our parents’ bottles of Crown Royal, stick them to our sleeves, and march about the house pretending to be majors in the army. And because we were the same rank, we could punch each other without being court-martialled.
But this isn’t my childhood sugar cereal. This is the newly launched timbits cereal.
A “timbit” is a Canadian term meaning “donut hole” the way “hundreds and thousands” is a British term meaning “sprinkles.”
I buy myself a box of timbits when I want to eat the equivalent of two donuts and feel dainty while I’m doing it. Even the name of the container, “snack pack” suggests restraint. Timbits come in boxes of 10 (the snack pack), 20, or 50.
First impression: What a jaunty box. The design at the top is made to simulate the cardboard handles you use to carry timbit boxes. It says “Pick me up, sling me into your passenger seat, and rifle me at random.”
I could never guess the number of gumballs in the jar at the fall fair, but I can tell from the heft of this box that there are many, many more than ten timbits in here.
This is no snack pack of timbits. This is a gorge pack.
Let’s start with the “chocolate glazed” flavor.
Up to my nostrils in a box of bits, and I can just smell the glucose.
Do they look like chocolate-glazed timbits? No. Chocolate timbits have a kind of glossy, flakey finish that can only be acquired via envelopment in an elixir of icing sugar and water.
This cereal has a matte finish.
Were I so inclined, I would go back to the developer and have words.
Is the texture evocative of actual timbits? No. It’s reminiscent of kibble.
Genuine timbits are not crunchy. They are spongy, squidgy, or gooey (if they’re the jelly-filled ones). A timbit is only crunchy if it’s been left in a car overnight in a Canadian winter. Or on the kitchen counter for a week.
Mouthfeel? Sort of like a balloon hitting a stucco ceiling, where the stucco is the cereal and the balloon is my soft palate.
But, okay, sanding off a layer of mucous membrane is par for the course when eating sugar cereal, so I knew what I was in for.
The flavor? Well. My taste buds are gullible. If you call something “chocolate” and it’s brown, I will perceive it as chocolate via the placebo effect. Finest quality Belgian chocolate this is not. But then, neither are chocolate timbits.
As I watch the milk in the bowl turn brown, I experience déjà vu.
Big chocolate-flavored nuggets floating in brown milk.
Wait a minute.
I’ve seen this cereal before.
No, Tim Hortons. Your little anthropomorphized timbits dancing on the box don’t fool me. I have sussed you. You are mutton dressed as lamb. You are Nesquik dressed as timbit.
Next up to the plate: Birthday Cake Flavour
Cereal that tastes like timbits that taste like birthday cake—a nesting doll of sensory aspiration. A recursive consortium of influence. A meta-essence of munchies.
How do they look?
Pitted, like a lunar surface. A lunar surface with multi-colored climate-controlled domes, or “jimmies” as the astronauts call them.
The birthday cake-flavored timbits are less hardy in milk than their chocolate cousins. Within a couple of minutes their exterior becomes slushy, like a Canadian sidewalk in March, but with less salt.
Taste? There’s something missing.
I like my timbits the way I like my country: diverse. My preferred timbit purchase is the assorted snack pack. A snack pack of assorted timbits is the “everything donut”, deconstructed.
So, Tim Hortons, where’s my jelly-filled, Dutchie, honey dip, sour-cream-glazed, old-fashioned plain, cruller, apple fritter cereal? Where is my crazy-quilt of multiculturalism?
Apparently, it’s not forthcoming. I’ll have to settle for just the two flavors.
The real question is, how do timbits cereals compare to actual timbits?
Can you bring them to the office potluck? No.
Can you eat them with a fork? Not really.
Can they take a birthday candle? No.
Can you mash a couple of them into your best friend’s eye sockets and have her stagger around doing the Pastry Zombie for an evening? No.
Do they float in melted butter? Yes.
1 out of 5 isn’t bad.
They’re not meatloaf. There’s that, at least.