A video that went viral last month showed someone at Tim Hortons ordering a “Gretter” coffee — sweetened with nine servings of both cream and sugar in a reference to hockey icon Wayne Gretzky’s jersey number, 99.
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The Canadian breakfast chain hasn’t officially endorsed the concoction — an employee in the video warns “you might die” — but it did just release an emotional ad featuring Gretzky, showing his own history with Tim Horton, who was a pro hockey player before he opened his chain of breakfast restaurants.
Before Horton opened his first coffee and doughnut shop in 1964, he was known as one of the NHL’s best defensemen and helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win three consecutive championships.
In 1968, Gretzky’s mother took him to an Ontario restaurant opening where the future hockey legend met Horton and got his autograph on a napkin, according to the chain.
“When I was a young boy, I looked up to Tim Horton,” Gretzky said in a press release. “He was an icon — one of the best Canadian hockey players of his generation. I would watch him play on TV and every night I went to bed thinking about being like him and playing hockey on TV.”
The ad recreates the meeting, then illustrates young Gretzky’s eventual rise to greatness. It also shows him with his father, Walter Gretzky, who has held onto the autograph for 50 years.
“There have been many moments in my career that I will never forget, but the moment I met Tim in that restaurant and he signed that napkin for me, it inspired me to believe that I could become a professional hockey player like him,” Gretzky said.
And while Tim Hortons doesn’t advertise the “Gretter” at all, it is planning to sell tumblers with Gretzky’s autograph at some locations starting Jan. 15.