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51 Things You’ll Never Hear a Buffalo Resident Say

51 Things You’ll Never Hear a Buffalo Resident Say

In March of last year, Time Out Chicago published a list of particular sentences and thoughts which people who had lived in Chicago for awhile could use to identify you as not being from Chicago. People loved the damn thing, and I dropped into a few other city blogs to check if other places followed suit. New Orleans did, and Portland tried, although no one ever published a full list for that city. Now, its been about a year and a half since Time Out Chicago published it, and after giving it some thought, I’ve decided its time for a Buffalo booster to punch up a list of 51. True to Buffalo’s form, though, no one here seems to have found out about Time Out Chicago’s idea. Buffalo is, of course, always three decades behind the times and current trends, so although it took me a years and a half to create my own list in response, I’m actually well ahead of the curve in Buffalo time. Note that if you’re stupid enough to say some of these things in public here – like number six – the people in this city are legally obligated to kill you.

1 – “Buffalo wings.”

2 – “Let’s be honest: The Bills never stood a chance against the Giants in that Super Bowl anyway.”

3 – “Main Place Mall is obviously the best hangout spot. There’s always a lot to see there.”

4 – “Don’t worry about having beer if you get snowed in. Tea is a fine substitute.”

5 – “Why go all the way to Mighty Taco? Taco Bell is closer. It’s just as good.”

6 – “I’m glad Buffalo Wild Wings is in the area. They know how it’s done!”

7 – “Why go to Canada to drink underage? You can buy a perfectly good fake ID here.”

8 – “The NFTA is working exactly like it’s supposed to. It’s doing a great job.”

9 – “I got caught in a traffic jam on the skyway during rush hour.”

10 – “Dolphins are mammals, not fish!”

11 – “Buffalo ’66 needs a sequel.”

12 – “Call the ballpark by its proper name: Coca-Cola Field.”

13 – “Nobody gives a crap about Irish lineage!”

14 – “I’m sensing an impending boom in heavy industry.”

15 – “I just don’t understand the logic of carving a chunk of butter into a lamb shape.”

16 – “Look, I don’t know my neighbors, so I don’t see why I should dig them out of five feet of snow just because.”

17 – “The Convention Center really adds to the aesthetic of the city.”

18 – “UB’s North Campus is easy to get to. You just can’t miss it.”

19 – “Tim Horton may be a hockey legend, but his donuts suck.”

20 – “I would prefer the pleasant natural smells of a typical city downtown area to the Cheerio smell infesting our downtown.”

21 – “All those one-way streets make navigation downtown a snap!”

22 – “Albany really sticks its neck out for us. We’re lucky to have them.”

23 – “Why does everyone like Rob Ray so much? He was a thug who never did anything for the community!”

24 – “Not having salt potatoes for the Fourth of July barbeque isn’t the end of the world.”

25 – “Ani DiFranco? That name doesn’t ring any bells.”

26 – “Who could possibly go running in this snow?”

27 – “The people in University Heights are so quiet and well-mannered.”

28 – “Summer here is gross. An average high of 80 degrees? Way too high.”

29 – “The view from the American side is just as good.”

30 – “I wish we had more New York City-style pizza joints. They do the best pizza downstate.”

31 – “The Albright-Knox doesn’t have anything interesting.”

32 – “All those Wrights and Sullivans need to be razed for more modern steel buildings.”

33 – “The Skylon is perfect for a first date.”

34 – “The Taste of Buffalo is just a low-budget version of the Taste of Chicago.”

35 – “Coffee? Starbucks, of course!”

36 – “I’m glad Niagara Falls axed the Festival of Lights.”

37 – “The city’s 4 AM Closing Time is absurd and needs to be cut back a couple of hours.”

38 – “What’s a weck?”

39 – “No, I don’t think my relatives would be interested in seeing The Falls.”

40 – “You know, it wouldn’t kill anyone to hold the annual pond hockey tournament at an indoor rink for once.”

41 – “William McKinley had it coming.”

42 – “$700 for a single-bedroom apartment is a steal. If you get that price, jump on it.”

43 – “Tim Russert and Wolf Blitzer? Overrated. Now The Buffalo News – there’s a shining beacon of great journalism!”

44 – “Three words when it comes to grocery shopping: Anywhere but Wegman’s.”

45 – “I wish Buffalo was more like New York City.”

46 – “The 1999 Stanley Cup Final was a long time ago and Brett Hull scored a good goal. Get over it!”

47 – “Another parking lot downtown would really improve the view.”

48 – “Don’t worry about potholes. They don’t exist here.”

49 – “Why would you move to North Carolina?”

50 – “I don’t see why this city thinks it’s so tough.”

51 – “I’m still waiting for Brian Higgins to run for President.”


Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Tim Horton’s: The Ultimate Donut Shop!

Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Tim Horton’s: The Ultimate Donut Shop!

Ah, donuts. Quite possibly the world’s most perfect pastry treat. It says something that whenever people begin their attacks on large, corporate fast food chains, the big donut shops always seem to escape relatively unscathed. I’m not quite sure what, exactly, it’s saying, but I’m sure it’s something. In any case, donuts are delicious. I love them, you love them, and there’s nothing better than going into a neighborhood donut shop on a freezing winter day to order our favored center-hole (or cream-filled) pastry with a nice cup of hot coffee and reading for an hour.

The big question, of course, is figuring out where you want to go to do that. Well, of course there’s always your local joint, but as much as I promote as much locality as possible in matters like this, there are those local places that just aren’t suited to the quiet atmosphere you’re looking for to get out of the cold and lose yourself inside a book for awhile. So as much as I don’t like going to the big places, they’re good at serving that purpose, and I frequently like to take advantage. If you live in the United States or Canada, your choices for such a joint are set in stone: Americans can take advantage of Dunkin’ Donuts, while Canadians have access to Tim Horton’s. But what if you’re living along the border and have ready access to both? Which one do you go to? Well, I’m one of those rare border people who is as likely to visit Dunkin’ as much as he is Timmy’s, and I say it’s time to mine a definitive answer to which one of these places is better. So let’s do this! Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Tim Horton’s. One day, I’ll learn.

Well, these places are both donut shops, so we might as well start with the obvious. Both Dunkin’ and Timmy’s are known and, well, at least tolerated for their abilities to whip up batches of creative donuts. Both bakeries have a habit of expanding their selections on a seasonal basis – Dunkin’ even offers a selection of donuts for Valentine’s Day, featuring donuts filled with cookie dough or brownie batter. Timmy’s goes for a more localized basis, and when football and hockey seasons roll around, they have pastries dedicated to the local teams – even the Bulls if you happen to be on the University of Buffalo campus. In the fall, Timmy’s has pumpkin donuts, and Dunkin’ has a seasonal selection more based around apples. When it comes down to the actual structure of the donuts, though, well, those tend to be pretty different too. The donuts at Dunkin’ Donuts are bigger and more dense while the ones at Tim Horton’s are fluffier, airier, and easier to chew on.
I know this is blasphemy in this area, but I’m giving this edge to Dunkin’ Donuts. Although I think Tim Horton’s probably has the better selection, I tend to think of donuts as dense treats that need to be washed down with a nice batch of brewed coffee, so the variety at Timmy’s just isn’t going to be an acceptable substitute if I decide I want a regular, classic Boston Creme or peanut donut. Dunkin’ does the classics pretty well, and that’s what this whole section comes down to.

There’s nothing like a cup of bold, robust coffee to wash down your pastries, so both places offer combinations that include it, along with a wide variety of ways to spice it up. Both places offer iced coffee and dark roasts, as well as a set of cappuccino drinks. There’s not much else to say about coffee – it’s pleasantly bitter and hot, can go with any food, and is a nice way to warm up.
Tim Horton’s wins this one by a mile. Not only is their dark roast better, but if you go to Dunkin’ Donuts, you have to order the dark roast in order to have a drink that tastes even remotely like coffee. And even then, the Dunkin’ Donuts dark roast is more like one of those vending machine coffees; something that’s there, quick, painless, and convenient that you can drink when you’re in dire need of a pick-me-up. The regular Dunkin’ Donuts coffee has been likened to dishwater, although I personally prefer to compare it to hot water which has been flavored with ink. There’s not much difference, though, and the message remains the same: Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is something that can be thrown out without regret.

The redheaded stepchild of the regular donut, bagels aren’t as soft or sweet, but you get to fill them up with butter and cream cheese. And Dunkin’ Donuts makes its bagels considerably bigger than Tim Horton’s, so there’s more for the price and more room for cream cheese. Unfortunately, Dunkin’ bagels also tend to be rather chewy, and also very difficult to bite off. They’re more like the bagels a lot of us get from grocery store bakeries. The bagels at Timmy’s are smaller, and they don’t offer quite as much variety when it comes to toppings, but if you want the bagel sliced and toasted, first of all, it really tastes like its been sliced and toasted and not merely heated in a saucepan for ten seconds. They are hard but just soft enough for you to be able to eat without chipping your teeth, but Timmy’s isn’t quite as generous with the cream cheese. Both places offer a great variety of bagels, from your regular flavors to temporary seasonal offerings.
Tim Horton’s. Not only are the bagels more like real bagels, they go a lot better with butter if you’re not up for cream cheese. Also, their bagels are a lot more flavorful and taste like exactly what they’re supposed to taste like. The way they’re baked is excellent – you don’t wear yourself out trying to chew one of them.

The larger, tastier, more filling, and less healthy alternative to the donut is an incredible treat at Dunkin’ Donuts. Moist, gooey, and packed with whatever flavor you ordered, there’s really not much of a contest to be had in this department… Until you get to know the various branches of Dunkin’ Donuts are realize they all seem to use very different muffin recipes. And that’s a real key here – Dunkin’ muffins COULD be the best you find anywhere, IF you happen to find a branch that does them well. Unfortunately, just as often, you’re also likely to find Dunkin’ muffins that are stale or dry. Tim Horton’s muffins are significantly smaller, and their best don’t hold a candle to the best at Dunkin’. However, there’s a more interesting selection at Timmy’s, and some of their muffins have small pockets filled with an appropriate cream or jelly. Although Dunkin’ ultimately has the higher quality muffins, Timmy’s makes up for its lesser quality with better consistency – a muffin cooked is going to be done in a particular way whether it’s done at Harborcenter or the University of Buffalo campus. The quality remains the same no matter where you are.
Tim Horton’s. And my god, what a place for Dunkin’ Donuts to squander its potential. Dunkin’ seemed to find the perfect way to make muffins, and yet, it can’t get that method of baking to every store. Hell, in my experience, it can’t get its baking methods to half its stores, and so you have a scattershot chance of finding the best of any particular kind of muffin that gets served at Dunkin’ Donuts. This kind of roulette has never happened at Tim Horton’s. I’ll grant that Dunkin’s blueberry muffins are consistent, but sometimes, I just want a damn chocolate chip muffin that isn’t fucking stale! Or a pumpkin muffin that doesn’t completely crumble after I take my first bite!

There’s a decent selection of sandwiches at both donut joints. At Dunkin’ Donuts, you get the feeling that everything that’s not one of their breakfast sandwiches was whipped up in a hurry using leftover breakfast materials with lunch meat. Not that I’m docking them for that in itself, because some of those selections are pretty tasty – their turkey sandwiches make a good, fast lunch sandwich in a pinch. Tim Horton’s does subs – or, really, half-subs, bigger than the sandwiches you’re likely to find at Burger King. There aren’t a whole lot of varieties of them, and it feels more like Timmy’s is banking more on its own selection of infallible breakfast sandwiches, which include biscuit sandwiches. Their selection of breakfast sandwiches is pretty standard, and has the usual ingredients, like eggs, sausage, cheese, and bacon.
Tim Horton’s. Dunkin’ Donuts seems to have whipped up half its menu as a compliment to its putrid coffee. That’s a bad enough crime as it is, but Dunkin’ compounds it by demanding you pay lunch sandwich prices for most of them. At Tim Horton’s, you can actually get a sizable lunch sandwich for an appropriate price.

And the winner of this contest is Tim Horton’s, and a four-time Stanley Cup champion and Hockey Hall of Famer destroys one of the silliest, most unsophisticated uses of the word “dunk.” Although, let’s be honest: The real winner in this contest would be Ipsento. Or Spot. Or Coffee Culture, or Sweetness 7, or whatever other local cafe serves coffee and pastries for the local intellectuals. The small places seem to get it right every time.

Raving About Dunkin’ Donuts

Raving About Dunkin’ Donuts

For the city of Buffalo, the name Tim Horton is probably the most meaningful name a resident could know. For one thing, Tim Horton was a hockey legend. He was one of the big names and leaders of the final dynasty of the Toronto Maple Leafs, whom he helped carry to four Stanley Cups. He was eventually brought to the Buffalo Sabres during his later years, where he acted as a mentor to the younger players on the new team. He died in a car accident en route home after one game, and today his name is embossed in felt from the rafters of First Niagara Center along with those of Pat LaFontaine, Danny Gare, and The French Connection. Arguably the greater legacy of Horton is the donut shop he set up in his hometown. His shop, Tim Horton’s, not only grew, but blew way the hell up and turned into Canada’s version of Dunkin’ Donuts. Being a Canadian joint, Tim Horton’s is randomly spattered along the American border too, where it dominates Dunkin’ Donuts. The average Buffalo kid grows up adopting Timmy’s as his favorite pastry place of choice.

Timmy’s outnumbers Dunkin’ by a ratio of at least five to one, a number which is generously conservative if anything. So it’s very unusual that I profess to liking Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not that I have anything against Timmy’s; I eat there pretty regularly too because they have better coffee, a better sandwich selection, and by far the better bagels. The problem is that Timmy’s isn’t anything close to being my own personal secret. The place is so packed every time I go in that it’s tough to find anyplace to sit half the time. That’s why I give a bigger edge to Dunkin’ than most people in the area – the ambience is a lot nicer, the place is quiet, and it’s located almost right across the street from my local library. It’s also a pleasant reminder of my other home city, which is where I started becoming a frequent Dunkin’ Donuts customer. I think nothing of going in, ordering a quick snack and iced coffee to replenish my body – usually brutally ravaged from the bicycle ride over by then – and recovering by spending a half hour with my latest baseball tract or Star Wars novel. Also, most of the time, the customer service at Dunkin’ is a lot better. I have to make clout here for the fact that I’m a repeat customer the employees there know and like, and the fact that Dunkin’ in the Buffalo area usually aren’t stuck beating off winter shopping rushes with broomsticks, but still, they know me better than any of the Timmy’s I regularly visit in the city.

By now you’ve probably seen, or at least heard of the video. You know the one – the video of the customer walking into some Dunkin’ Donuts in Florida cursing out the poor guy behind the cash register. The employee, Abid Adar, certainly deserves the accolades he’s been getting for enduring a thunderous rant long after the point where Ghandi would have ripped her lungs out. The service I get at Dunkin’, though – or at least my location (Union Road, by Southgate) – is usually the exemplary service Mr. Adar gave his vile customer. It isn’t quite at the level of customer service I received at Potbelly, but then again, looking for Potbelly-type service everywhere would be asking way too much. When I started frequently Dunkin’ in Chicago (Timmy’s doesn’t exist there), the employees didn’t get to know me quite as well, but that was because there are about a bajillion Dunkin’ locations in The Loop alone and I chose to buy my late-day recovery coffee and sweet at whichever one I happened to be closest to that day. It wasn’t because the employees were any worse.

The media is giving a lot of coverage to Adar, which is refreshing because it brings a positive spin to the story and brings us a humane insight on a man who showed incredible grace under pressure. Does that make it wrong, though, for me to want to know a little bit more about his attacker, Taylor Chapman? Here’s the story I’m getting from her own words in her video: She drops into a Dunkin’ Donuts one night in Florida and is served by one of Adar’s co-workers, who says Chapman is entitled to free food the next day is she doesn’t get a receipt. Chapman abused the worker the previous night, saying that she was going to order the whole menu twice and calling the employee some names. Chapman got the food, though, and presumably went home and ate it. She then went to sleep, got up the next day, and thought to herself, I DIDN’T GET A RECEIPT! I’M JUST GOING TO VISIT THAT DUNKIN’ DONUTS LOCATION AGAIN, DEMAND MY FREE MEAL, SCREAM MY LUNGS OUT AT THE POOR KID AT THE COUNTER, POST A VIDEO OF MYSELF DOING IT ON FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE, AND BE A HERO FOR EXPOSING THE ROTTEN WAY DUNKIN’ DONUTS CUSTOMERS GET TREATED!

That about cover it? Looking at the summary like that, I can’t help but mash my head repeatedly against my keyboard and wonder how the hell Chapman ever thought she would come out of this as the crystal rose. Dunkin’ Donuts has some particular policies on pampering customers, and apparently the one Chapman visited has a policy guaranteeing free food is there’s no receipt. And to be honest, I’m the kind of person who would abuse such a policy and order the entire menu twice myself. However, I would have been so polite and charming about doing so that Dunkin’ Donuts would have been happy to give me that same free order for the next year. Chapman’s behavior might just have destroyed her whole life – which, if Dunkin’ Donuts cares about worker abuse, will coincidentally be exactly how long Chapman is banned.

I couldn’t help but be a little bemused when Chapman mentioned her business degree and her online reviews of the Dunkin’ Donuts location in question. According to her logic, the two run hand in hand, which I guess technically means I’m now free to begin advertising myself as some sort of prodigy. I’m going on 13 years as an online reviewer. My work has gotten me discovered by three websites with exclusive qualifications for their writers, although I admit it’s a stretch to say The Examiner is careful about who it picks up. I created a fourth review website, a personal blog called Lit Bases, where I review baseball literature and which has been spotted by at least four authors whose work I’ve reviewed. My belief that I can someday write professionally isn’t exactly farfetched, and everyone I’ve ever met seems to think I’m a brilliant writer. Damn right I’m a brilliant writer! I mean, I must be brilliant if I was able to somehow circumnavigate the apparently requisite Bachelor’s in business, right?

The weirdest aspect of the hissyfit is that Chapman didn’t seem to really care about the food so much as the damn receipt. She complained to some of the other customers in the line – who come off like they wanted nothing to do with her – that she knew the employees there would be spitting in her food, and that they had once pissed in her fries. (Dunkin’ Donuts serves fries? Huh. Not in New York and Illinois they don’t!) Therefore, she wasn’t planning to actually eat the food anyway – just give it to her boyfriend. I wonder how he felt about that one. That means the food wasn’t even the point. The principle of not getting a small piece of paper with her meal was the whole point of an epic eight-minute rant in which one apparently crazy ex-model wrecked her whole reputation.

I like Dunkin’ Donuts, and their employees have been wonderful. On the occasions I’ve had to return food, they always handled it well. And there are times I’ve screwed up on my order too. How much does a receipt for a donut really mean? Well, if I don’t get my receipt from a donut purchase, I always think of this routine from the great comedian Mitch Hedberg: