Why Tim Hortons' Wayne Gretzky Coffee Is So Intense

The Canadian coffee shop and bakery chain Tim Hortons is as ubiquitous throughout the Great White North as Starbucks or Dunkin' are in the United States. Known colloquially as Timmies, the restaurant serves a drink that is so extreme that it's not even on the official menu. The beverage went viral on TikTok simply because someone dared to order and drink it. This secret menu coffee drink is called the Gretzky, the Gretter, or the nine-by-nine, in honor of ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, whose jersey was number 99. What makes this coffee so intense is that it's made with nine servings of sugar and nine servings of cream — an excessive amount of sweetener sure to challenge even those with the most insatiable sweet tooth.

Tim Horton was one of the NHL's greatest players, who – in 1964 — founded his eponymous business selling donuts and coffee in Toronto, Canada. There are now over 5,500 locations worldwide, with more than 600 in the United States. Arguably its best-known drink, Tim Hortons' double-double coffee is made with two shots of cream and two shots of sugar. While, for many, that's already more than enough sweetener, you can also order the triple-triple with three shots each of sugar and cream. If you still want your coffee even sweeter, Timmies also offers the four-by-four, with four sugars and creams. But those all pale in comparison to the mythical Gretzky coffee — which has approximately 10 times more sweetener and milk than it does coffee.

This viral TikTok coffee drink comes with a warning

It all started in August of 2019 when Ryan Lair posted a TikTok video of himself ordering a Gretzky from a Tim Hortons drive-thru. At the pick-up window, the employees jokingly ask if he's okay and if he even likes coffee. A third staff member joins in to add, "There's just a little disclaimer; you might die!" The barista then shows Lair the drink with its nine shots of cream and sugar in the cup before adding any coffee — the white liquid fills the cup to about an inch or two below the top. With just a small amount of room left for coffee, the cashier tells him that it's cold. There's so much chilled creamer in the drink that the hot coffee is instantly cooled. We then see Lair take a sip and make a startled expression, but the video ends abruptly without revealing his full reaction. 


Asking Tim Hortons for a gretzky 9x9 coffee 😂😂 #areyouokay #foryou

♬ original sound – Slayer

With only a few earlier references to the drink found online, it wasn't until after the video went viral overnight that articles started being published about it, and copycat TikTokers started filming their own reactions to drinking it. Most seem to agree that it's not their cup of tea, so to speak  – and that you can't taste the coffee. 

How to order Timmies' nine-by-nine

Kait Beck is a Tim Hortons employee who shares menu hacks, and she advises against getting the Gretsky. She told Narcity that "nine creams, nine sugars is totally outrageous." And here's why — the drink has about 1,000 calories, 78 grams of sugar, 84 grams of fat, and 276 milligrams of cholesterol. To put this into perspective, it's recommended that men consume no more than 36 grams of sugar per day, and for women, it's below 25 grams (via the American Heart Association). Cholesterol's maximum limit should be under 300 milligrams (per the AHA).

Outside of Canada, Tim Hortons staff may not know about the off-menu drink. We called different locations in the United States to find out. We spoke with an employee at the Columbus, Georgia location who had never heard of it. A Detroit, Michigan staff member we talked to was also unfamiliar. Same at the Rochester, New York store — although they offered that if something isn't on the menu, Tim Hortons will still make it for you.

You can't order the Gretzky online or through the restaurant's app because the upper level for customizing is four shots. Another tip is to request the medium drink in a large cup. The sheer volume of sugar and cream fills the medium, so a bigger cup will help you get a little more coffee with all that cream and sugar.