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Roll Up the Rigged

For those that grew up in Canada, Tim Hortons is a cultural standard. The nation’s love for double-doubles and Timbits has become a stereotype that we are often mocked for, but that doesn’t stop us from going on our beloved “Tim’s runs.” Despite the rest of the world’s relative awareness of Tim Horton’s, I still run into Non-Canadian’s that have no clue what “Roll Up the Rim” is. Admittedly, it is strange to see people walking around chewing at the rims of their coffee cups after completing them (and some even before they’re finished).

While there may be confusion and even an aversion from some, the annual Roll Up the Rim contest is a tradition that many Canadian’s take seriously. I’m talking Hockey Night in Canada serious. Even with other coffee chains popping up more within Canadian cities (i.e. Starbucks), the in store and drive-thru lineups tend to get longer at Tim Hortons during the Roll Up the Rim contest period. The contest runs from February 1st to April 14th (or until supplies last) this year, which you would think is more than enough time to win a few free coffees and donuts, or maybe even a gift card. But it’s a lot harder to “rrrroll up the rim and win” than most people like to think.

For the past few years, I have been one of the many who stand in winding lines – sometimes for upwards of twenty minutes – during Roll Up the Rim. Unlike previous years, this time I have decided to document my experience and see if spending all that money on coffee for two and a half months is truly worth it. While there is only a little less than a month left to play, my “score” is currently three wins out of eighteen drinks purchased. Statistically, barely 17% of the cups that I’ve purchased have been winning cups and I haven’t been able to go on a winning streak. While I’m pleased to have won those three times, I’ve only been able to win two donuts and one coffee.

Although my experience has been unfavourable thus far, I know people who have had lesser Roll Up stats than me. Friends have stated that they’ve only won once out of almost twenty drinks purchased. I’ve also heard that some people have purchased over thirty drinks and haven’t won even a donut. Then there are the more fortunate people, who have won with over half of the cups that they’ve purchased. My mother has even won potato wedges, which I didn’t even know they were offering as a prize this year.

An overwhelming amount of losing cups this year has caused some frustrated Canadians to develop theories about what it takes to win.

The “size matters” theory:

  • The most common theory that I’ve heard is that large cups contain the most prizes. I can personally debunk this theory, as I’ve won twice from medium cups, once from a small, and never from a large. I think it’s safe to say that every size has an equal possibility of being a winner.

The “Eastern Canada is luckier” theory:

  • This theory is partially true. Cup distribution is based on population, so Ontario will have more cups than Saskatchewan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ontario will have more winning cups. I’ve found this insider article, which gives an even better lowdown on Roll Up the Rim statistics and the likeliness of winning per region.

The “pity win” theory:

  • I’ve heard rumours that if you bring in 7 “please play again/réessayez s.v.p” rims that they will give you a free donut or coffee. I have never heard Tim Horton’s speak publicly about this, or seen it in the contest rules linked on their website, so this theory is most likely false.

Despite my frustrations, I’ll probably continue to purchase coffees (while trying not to make too big of a dent in my wallet). If you’re playing this year, I hope your chances of winning are higher than mine! Happy rolling HCUBC!

Kailynn studies English Literature and Film Studies at UBC. Her studies are also her passions and she can never finish a novel or televison series before starting a new one. She's currently working on her own writing projects and hopes to publish a novel and develop a feature film screen play in the future! Aside from her love of writing, she also loves to travel - even if it's just a weekend at the lake. You'll most likely find her in one of the library basement's or in line for coffee on campus, but you can always find her on twitter! 
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