Alberta ultrarunner launches crusade to save Tim Horton’s Walnut Crunch donut

Alberta ultrarunner launches crusade to save Tim Horton's Walnut Crunch donut

An Alberta stay-at-home dad is turning his goal of finishing next month’s 100-mile Sinister 7 Ultra into a crusade to bring the Tim Hortons Walnut Crunch donut back for good.

Zacary Jeaurond has launched a lighthearted campaign to save the recognizably rectangular donut from being sent back to permanent retirement. The restaurant chain, which discontinued the sweet treat several years ago, gave the Walnut Crunch a temporary reprieve on May 31 by reintroducing the donut on its shelves for a limited time.

walnut crunch runner
Photo: Zacary Jeaurond

“About a month or two ago I heard that the Walnut Crunch was coming back for some sort of promotion for Tim Hortons, and I was super excited because I’ve been talking about the Walnut Crunch to my friends for years since it had been discontinued ,” says Jeaurond, who notes the combination of taste, texture and shape is what makes the snack so endearing. “I was pretty pumped and was thinking about ways to try and keep it around—make sure that they keep it for good and not just a seasonal promotion or a kind of a nostalgic promotion.”

For Jeaurond, the return of the Walnut Crunch coincided with his own comeback story. He has been busy training for the 160-km Sinister 7, a race he came close to finishing in 2019, but wasn’t able to complete. “I was able to make it 134 kilometers, but there was just nothing left in the tank,” he says. “So not finishing that race, it’s kind of been eating me up for some time now.”

Now it’s his turn to do the eating. Jeaurond recognized his training runs from him —which he often does while pushing his baby daughter Lili in a stroller—and cross-training bike rides as opportunities to take his public plea to Tim Hortons to the streets, chronicling his outings on social media, primarily through his @zaddy.daycare.yyc Instagram account.

Not content to rely solely on his online activism, Jeaurond is voting for the permanent return of the Walnut Crunch with his wallet. He has been snatching up the snacks by the dozen, integrating the donuts into his training nutrition. The runner figures he’s eaten up to 50 of them during his buildup to the ultramarathon.

Zacary Jeaurond on bike
Photo: Zacary Jeaurond

“I think a lot of the reason why I didn’t finish the race last time was due to the nutritional side. The Walnut Crunch is a pretty high-calorie snack—I think 300-and-some per donut. So the time when I crushed five of them in two hours, I know I was well over that. I’m sure my body’s not digesting at all, but you know, I think it’s getting better at it.”

Unfortunately, he says, he’s had to start rationing his remaining stash of donuts, as the Walnut Crunch has already started to disappear from shelves in his area. “I’ve been talking to the store owners, and the franchise owners aren’t able to buy from Tim Hortons anymore, so they don’t have any left—whatever is in the stores now is what’s left. I’ve stockpiled a few and have frozen some.”

Zacary Jeaurond
Photo: Zacary Jeaurond

While Jeaurond says he won’t be fueling with the Walnut Crunch exclusively at this year’s Sinister 7, he’ll make sure he has some left on hand for race day on July 8. Jeaurond says he will be dedicating his race to the return of the Walnut Crunch, and hopes the push of publicity will finally get Tim Hortons’ attention.

“I haven’t had any kind of response from Tim Hortons yet, which has been by far the most disappointing part of it. But the main thing I want them to know is that we stop at nothing,” he says with a laugh. “At no point will I ever stop advocating for it until I get some sort of tangible response from them.”

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