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Are people in your office inexplicably fiddling with their coffee cups? Gnawing at the rims with their teeth? If you live in Canada, it must be "roll up the rim" season. If not, the people around you are just crazy. That, or you have a "Roll Up the Rim to Win"-like contest of your own.

"Roll Up the Rim to Win" is an annual contest put on by Tim Hortons coffeeshops. Nay, much more than this, it is a Canadian tradition of the highest order. No, I will not quit jiving you, turkey.

Hot beverages (i.e. tea, coffee or hot chocolate) from Tim Hortons during "Roll Up the Rim" season come in special paper cups. Inside the cup's rim is a message indicating whether or not the purchaser has won a prize. It is customary to consume the beverage and then, as they say, "roll up the rim" to see whether one has won.

Prizes usually range from a complimentary donut or hot beverage (it says coffee on the winning cups, but you can substitute it for tea or hot chocolate should you win) to cash, electronics or cars. The food and beverage prizes are by far the most common, with 30 million winning cups distributed across the country. (By that count, most Canadians could win a free donut at least once a year.)

Next on the list in terms of number of prizes and frequency of wins is usually a small electronic device that changes from one year to the next. The 2007 "small electronic" is an iPod nano, of which 10,000 are available to win. Five hundred lucky customers will win $1,000 each, and 100 will win a 42" plasma television set.

Thirty people may unroll their rims to find that they've won an automobile. This year's car is a Toyota Camry Hybrid. The 2009 auto prize is the Toyota Venza.

The contest caused some controversy in 2006 when a school girl found a Tim Hortons cup with an unrolled rim in a garbage bin. Unfortunately, she could not roll up the rim and asked another girl for help. Upon successfully rolling the rim, they discovered that the cup was a winner — they'd won a car.

Each child's parents claimed that their child had found it, meaning that they were the true winners of the vehicle. Meanwhile, a lawyer representing a man who claimed to have thrown the cup out in that wastebin demanded a DNA test. After a lengthy dispute, the car was awarded to the family of the girl who first discovered the cup in the garbage.

This leads to another point that is an inexplicable part of the tradition: it is often quite difficult to roll the damn rim up. If you don't have long nails or strong thumbs, you may find yourself resorting to the use of your teeth. No, this is not a joke. Someone recently patented a device that fits on your keychain and will roll up the rim for you, but where's the sport in that?

The "Roll Up the Rim to Win" contest is conducted every spring, beginning sometime in March and ending at the end of May. This coincides with the end of the National Hockey League's regular season, during which teams are often struggling to make the playoffs. It also continues throughout the playoffs itself, while the company is bound to have a number of advertisements circulating on TV and radio.

In order to collect a prize, particularly the food and beverage prizes, the portion of the rim declaring which prize has been won must be presented at the counter while purchasing the product and before the order is rung up.

Each store displays a counter proclaiming how many winning cups have been redeemed at that particular location. No matter how small the outlet, the number is usually in the thousands by April.

According to TV ads, the proper pronunciation of "Roll Up the Rim to Win" is "Rrrrrroll Up the Rrrrrrim to Win." In French, the contest is named "Deroule le rebord pour gagner."

The 2007 contest marked the first time winners of coffee and donuts could substitute their prizes for other hot beverages or baked goods.


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