The humorous story of Donkey Donald's, aka Dunkin' Donuts

Originally published at:


But you don’t care about Donkey Donald’s Donuts, do ya?


I’m old enough to remember the original ‘Donkey Donut,’ which had a little tail.


I was wondering how they adapted to Quebec’s sign language laws, but I see that’s moot. (Donkey Donald’s would have had to lose the apostrophe.)


C’est foû qu’un francophone puisse si mal le pronouncer. Je suis incapable de le reproduire…


That isn’t true. If Quebec language laws forbade the use of apostrophes on signage, then you wouldn’t be able to find apostrophes in the signs for McDonald’s, Harvey’s, Wendy’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Joey’s Limousine, Hurley’s Irish Pub, McKibbin’s Irish Pub, Ziggy’s Pub, McLean’s Pub, Patrick’s Pub, Reuben’s Deli, and Jack’s Musique in Montreal. But you can.

The often repeated premise that Tim Hortons doesn’t have an apostrophe in their brand because of Quebec is a myth.

I don’t know about the current laws, but I was in Quebec when Bill 101 went down.

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We goof on the place as Derfin Derberts, then stop to scald our mouths and get some free wiffy!


Well, if the “Donkey Donald’s” story is not too politically incorrect, then I’ll add this one (sorry if it offends someone):

Back in the 1980’s, some friends and I went to lunch at a new Chinese restaurant that we had never been to before. The menu was pretty standard and we had no problems ordering entrees. The waitress asked about drinks. The menu just said “beer”. We asked about the beer. The waitress said, “We have Bud, Coors, Janjing, Tsingtao and Mihra.” None of us had ever heard of Mihra before, so we decided to try it. What we got was:


I have a similar story: Family members from Venezuela (ages ago) asked my mom if she could buy them a memento from a visit to the US and they specifically wanted something from Jarro Cafe. My mom super confused is like… Jarro Cafe??? (Jarro is basically a jar so she’s like wtf). After some back and forth she eventually realizes they wanted something from Hard Rock Cafe.

I have another story of a badly pronounced name of a celebrity. I’ll phonetically write it out and see if someone gets it: Mee-Kay Tea-Zone


I’m not saying that Bill 101 doesn’t exist, or that the OQLF hasn’t done some very stupid things. It does and they have. I’m saying that Bill 101 does not forbid the use of apostrophes on commercial signage in Quebec, and it’s not the reason that Tim Hortons doesn’t use an apostrophe.

The usual narrative goes like this:

  1. Tim Hortons used to have an apostrophe in its name and used one in its branding.
  2. In 1977, Quebec introduced Bill 101, La charte de la langue française, which among other things forbade the use of apostrophes on commercial signage (because an apostrophe means the sign is English rather than French).
  3. In response, Tim Hortons removed the apostrophe from its branding everywhere in Canada.

But none of these things is true.

If #1 were true, then there should be photographs of a Tim Horton’s (rather than a Tim Horton Donuts or a Tim Hortons) from between 1964 and 1977. Or coffee cup or a menu or a donut box that has an apostrophe on it. But I’ve never seen one, because it was never called Tim Horton’s.

If #2 were true, the text of Bill 101, or of any one of its many amendments, would say that there are commercial contexts in which any use of English text is forbidden (rather than merely requiring that French also be present), and the text of Bill 101 wouldn’t grant specific exemption from French language requirements for commercial signage. There would be text in the bill that makes the use of apostrophes on commercial signage illegal. But that’s not what the law says, and it’s not what the law does. If #2 were true, then McDonald’s, which came to Quebec in 1972, would have had to drop its apostrophe after Bill 101, but it didn’t. Harvey’s, which came to Quebec in 1964, would have had to drop its apostrophe after Bill 101, but it didn’t. Schwartz’s is the oldest deli in Canada and has had an apostrophe on its sign since 1928. It’s still on the sign. Apostrophes are on signs all over Quebec, and they always have been, because Bill 101 doesn’t forbid English on commercial signs and never did.

If #3 were true, there would be newspaper articles from the late 70s citing the name change of this nationally recognized brand from Tim Horton’s to Tim Hortons, and citing Bill 101 as the cause. I’ve never seen that article, because that name change never occurred, and because Bill 101 doesn’t do that.

The entire narrative presupposes that there needs to be some external factor that compelled Tim Hortons not to use an apostrophe. But Sobeys does not use an aprostrophe, even though there are no Quebec locations for Sobeys. Loblaws doesn’t use an apostrophe, but the Loblaws name first appeared in 1939, and the company didn’t expand to Quebec until 1998. Starbucks and Waterstones and Michaels and Folgers and Little Caesars and Barclays do not have apostrophes, and never had apostrophes, but they aren’t Canadian companies and gave no thought about Quebec when they developed their branding. Sometimes companies choose not to use apostrophes even when their names look like they should.

Dunkin’ Donuts still has a few Quebec locations. There’s one in Place Versailles on Sherbrooke St E in Montreal. The signs have an apostrophe.

Bill 101 does not and never did forbid the use of apostrophes on commercial signage. Bill 101 is not the reason Tim Hortons doesn’t use an apostrophe in its branding. It’s a myth.

Bill 101 is still dumb, though.


And I remember when Chi-Chi’s removed their apostrophe in Quebec. A number of stores did, like Eaton’s, Simpson’s, etc. I remember the articles in the Montreal Gazette. Funny that you can’t find them.

I don’t recall Tim Hortons even being a thing in Quebec at the time.

Mike the audio prizefighter’s fine Millenry Barveradger. Made by people named for germing and pre-grinding. Fery vine!


In the original version of Bill 101, public signs in Quebec were to be in French only. Any left-over bilingual signs had until Sept. 1, 1981 to drop the English.

That famously made the apostrophe in Eaton’s illegal.

I think we’re done.

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I didn’t realize they stopped making those. I usually get one of their plain crullers when I’m in the mood for dunking.

They’ve been gone for a long time. I think they got retired even before Fred the Baker.

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Simplement. Swallow ending consonants (comme un francophone), et voilà:
Donk-i-(n) Don-uh-(ts)

I much prefer Kreepy Kris donuts.