Addicted to novelty since 2001

Roll Up the Rim to, Rarely, Win

Tim Horton’s is a Canadian institution. So too is their popular catchphrase “roll up the rim to win”. It refers to a contest where (from the preceding Wikipedia link) “customers determine if they have won prizes by unrolling the rim on their coffee cup when they have finished their drink, revealing their luck underneath.”

Brian has been doing some anecdotal statistical analysis of his rolling-up-the-rim success rate. He’s won a donut in 17 attempts. Jon is 1 for 21. Dave is 1 for 17. Ah, the fascinating minutae of the average Canadian.

Come to think of it, Tim Horton’s is mostly an Ontario institution. I grew up without ever rolling up the rim. The only donut and coffee shop I frequented was the one at the little blue-bus station on Marine Drive, outside Park Royal North. It’s no longer there, but that’s where I ate my fair share of boston cremes. Does anybody remember what franchise that was?

A little research (using the TH store locator and provincial population numbers) shows that there are 8395 people per Tim Horton’s in Ontario, while there are 21,530 P/TH in BC (and 15,718 P/TH in Alberta). There’s apparently a Tim Horton’s shortage on the west coast.

UPDATE: Here’s some more data, in a handy spreadsheet.

33 Responses to “Roll Up the Rim to, Rarely, Win”

  1. Guest

    Isn’t Tim Horton’s owned by a company in the USA now? I’m not saying that I hate americans but there may be a roll-up conspiracy happening.

  2. The Peruvian Llama

    Bite your tongue, sir! “Tim Horton’s is mostly an Ontario institution”? The Great Tim of Horton is at home on the East Coast! Indeed, I see that your P/TH numbers are conspicuously lacking in anything representing the Maritime provinces. So using the same store locator, I humbly submit for the edification of your loyal readers, proof that we are not only fishermen and EI collectors, but caffeine addicts too:

    Newfoundland: 8393 P/TH
    PEI: 8109 P/TH
    New Brunswick: 6147 P/TH
    Nova Scotia: 5239 P/TH

    In my home town of Halifax, I don’t think you’re ever more than a five minute drive from a Tim Horton’s, and I’ve heard the same thing said of Truro and Sydney. But regardless of where you live, the odds of winning anything more than a Boston Cream still seem to remain vanishingly small..

  3. Darren

    Llama: I stand corrected. I was thrown by the strikingly high P/TH numbers for Quebec, and went no further east.

    You know: Was it really called ‘Nuffys’? That rings a vague bell, but what a stupid name.

  4. nicki

    I read somewhere lately that Tim Horton’s accounts for 22% of the garbage in Nova Scotia. Wow. 22%.

  5. Chris

    I think it’s only in the lower mainland that Tim Horton’s are in short supply. I went to high school in Terrace (up north), and there were 3 Tim Hortons in our town of ~18000.

    There was a recent news article that stated that 22% of Nova Scotia’s litter comes from Tim Horton’s. Thought that was kinda neat.

  6. Arthur

    I have been tracking this Rrr– phenomenon since a couple years using the official data. Comparisons: here. The chance of winning a dollar on a scratch ticket is greater than winning a free donut.

  7. filmgoerjuan

    You’re all going to get sued by the folks at Tim Hortons* if you keep calling it Tim Horton’s! ;)

    * that’s right, no apostrophe (scroll down to “A Canadian mystery”)

  8. Rob

    I won a free coffee the first time I ever got a ‘roll up the rim’ cup, but I’ve never won anything since.

  9. 'nee

    Holy crap was I weirded out when I moved to Ontario. There’s a Timmy’s on every street corner. And if you think I’m exaggering, I’m not: I live within walking distance of two Timmy’s, and I work within walking distance of two more. It’s weird.

  10. 'nee

    (And there are only two Starbuck’ses, here… one of them is less than a year old. Now THAT’s strange).

  11. Mike

    I’ve won a donut and a coffee with about 8 cups. (I usually drink Tim’s, but I also usually have a refillable mug on me and don’t bug them to get my roll-up chance.) I live in Waterloo, ON, for reference.

    @Peruvian Llama: I lived in Truro for about 15 years – 5 minutes for a Tim’s sounds about right. But I think there’s less coverage in Bible Hill. I think that figure would be almost accurate for Subway stores too.

  12. Brian Jones

    I think, well I’m pretty sure, that the fast food chain from the states, Wendy’s owns Tim Hortons. They will often have a combined Tim Hortons and Wendy’s restaurant when you’re driving the never ending stretch from Thunder Bay to Toronto.

    It’s quite sad that Tim Hortons has overtaken the Ontario coffee shop market. Thunder Bay is the founding home of Robin’s Donut, a similar kind of coffee shop–the only main difference between the two is that Robin’s donuts are made from scratch and always baked fresh rather than reheated like Tim’s. As of maybe three or so years ago, Tim Hortons as really started to dominate the Thunder Bay market, stealing it from our local hometown company Robin’s. I’m not too sure how well it’s doing in other parts of the country.

    I will also confess and say that I’m a hypocrite, and buy my coffee from Tim’s. Main reason being that we have two Tim’s on campus at Lakehead University, which at one time used to be Robin’s. Besides the donuts, I kind of like Tim’s more. Whenever I think of Robin’s, I think of a place I went to as a kid that was always dirty, dark and smoky.


  13. alexis

    We had a lot of them in Saskatoon as well, but there aren’t as many in the Lower Mainland and Quebec.

    Tim’s is really noticeable in Ottawa.

  14. Mike

    Brian: yes, Wendy’s owns Tim Hortons, they “merged” about 8 or 10 years ago now I guess. I remember it being pretty big news, living out East as I was at the time.

    Word is only Tims actually makes money. I don’t know how true that is.

    (Ah, google tells me they merged in 1995.)

  15. Darren Harkness

    The only donut chain I can think of that used to be in the Lower Mainland was Robin’s Donuts… I think there might still be a couple of them around, but when Timmy-Ho’s came rolling into the area, a lot of them went under.

  16. Ray

    I usually rant at asshats that leave their Tim’s cups all over hell’s half-acre.

    Then yesterday, after carefully tearing my second winning tab of the day off a Tim’s cup, I left the pair of them in the cupholder of my friend’s pickup.

    I still can’t believe I left him the dregs and kept the tab…

  17. Anonymous

    First it was Taco Don’s (remember the mexi fries?), and then Nuffy’s Donuts.

  18. Anonymous

    Last year on the Timmy’s website they had a breakdown of the prizes, the province the winning cups were issued and what size cups the prizes were located in. By large there were more winning cups in the large size than any other size. I usually drink the extra large coffees but switched to the large. I won a free donut and a free coffee after that. If I remember correctly there was only one truck to be won in BC and it was in a large cup.

  19. Peggy

    In Sudbury Ontario population almost 300k for the whole area there are at least 20 Tim Hortons, if you drive past one, there is another one a few minutes away. There were a number of Robin’s Donuts and Country Styles in town too, but they closed in the last 2 or 3 years and we are dominated by Timmys.
    I like my Timmy’s but I think the cream is making me fat. I dont eat donuts, cookies or anything else they make and this year I maybe won 9 times out of 100 coffees, so thier odds are about right. Still I get excited every year when I see the red and yellow cups instead of the brown!

  20. Kerrine

    I drink the odd tims but really am not sure of the odds of winning. I just wanna ad that as a former employee and baker the company treats its employees like shit.

  21. tim horton

    Tim hortons gave me a heart attack one morning, damn coffees

  22. JohnL

    I used the handy dandy locator for the Greater Moncton area and came up with an astounding 27 Tim’s locations. Using a population figure of 120000 from this site:
    gives us a Tim Hortons for every 4444.4 people. using the 150000 figure as a service base including two surrounding counties, it gives us 5555.5 people. That’s a lot of coffee.

  23. Ali

    I just visited Montreal and Quebec City and I must say they were lacking in the number of Timmies in both the cities (Quebec City was the worst).

    This is coming from a guy who lived in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Those two cities literally have 2-3 TH locations in walking distance of each other.

  24. Robert

    Well, statistics! I moved from the east to the west and kept my Ontario roots firmly planted here and won. Started out with a donut, then a few coffees, then picked up a free muffin with my coffee, then rolled up the rim to win the Toyota Camry. I told everyone, someone has to win in the west…

  25. Linda

    I love my Timmies. I am a triple-triple girl. I start getting excited in early February that Roll-Up is almost here. It is my favourite time of year and for me it is the first sign of spring and always accompanies the Brier. I love the commercial with Shorty Jenkins. They had a series of the best commercials one year that played during Brier coverage on TSN. I am from Saint John NB and loved the one with the dog. I actually knew that dog and the owner who ran the corner store near where I worked. You never see that one anymore. I wonder if it caused them problems because of health regulations.

  26. Maddy

    Has anybody found thier cup already rolled…I have…..very disappointing!

    James Reply:

    Yes! i too have found my rim pre-rolled – B.S. i tell you – we should sue.

  27. Mary

    The contest is a crock. Back when they first did it in Michigan, my boyfriend got a cup that was a “winner” for a grill. They gave us the runaround on it for about four months before he gave up and threw the cup out. It’s just a gimmick to get you to buy more coffee!

    I’m so sick of the commercials. We were very loyal customers for a long time – and I still love their tea – I just wish they could get some integrity.

  28. Ryan

    I think the odds are bogus. Myself this year I am already about 1 for 15. My girlfriend hasn’t won the past 3 years that roll-up the rim has been going. 1 in 9 my ass. Screw you Tim Hortons

  29. Jennifer

    Today 5 people in our office in Halifax, NS received pre-rolled cups. All 5 of us! Some were more noticeable than others, but two were actually torn! One girl went back and complained – they denied it but still replaced her coffee. Not impressed!!

  30. brad

    tim hortens is mostly in ontario i live 2 blocks away from the first tim hortens in hamilton ontario and i barely win anything

  31. Rose

    My sister was 5 in 14. So much for you unlucky people. She won a netbook!

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