Whose donut is it?

April 4, 2017 10:20 am Published by


Tim Hortons Roll up the Rim promotion has firmly established itself as Canadas first sign of spring. Move over robin and Wiarton Willie, when I catch the first glimpse of Tims red and yellow emblazoned cup I know the end is near. Aside from being an enormously successful marketing campaign, it also serves as an interesting insight into our sense of character.

Consider this: You buy a friend a coffee. He rolls up the rim and wins a donut. Whose donut is it? These matters rarely lead to a dispute. Largely, I would suggest, because the value of the prize is insignificant. What if however, the prize was a car? The arrangement, which was so comfortable for both parties when the prize was a donut, may become less so when the end result so heavily favours one party.

Which party possessed clear title to the donut did not seem to me to be a matter of any doubt – if I give you a gift, I have given you a gift and have lost the right to come back and collect upon any benefits you may have garnered from the gift. If you received a lottery ticket as a gift, would you be obligated to split the winnings with the giver? How about a chicken? If I gave you a chicken, would I be entitled to come back for free eggs? I did not think so, however to my surprise, not everyone is like minded on the matter. On a recent CFRB round table discussion consisting of 4 people, including the host, and three well educated, articulate and successful in their field guests – two of the four believed some ownership of the prize belonged to the giver of the cup of coffee!

In 2006 a 10 year old found a discarded Tim Hortons cup in the trash and retrieved it. Unable to roll up the rim herself, she enlisted the help of a 12 year old friend to complete the task, revealing the cup to be the winner of a new Toyota Rav 4. While lawyers for the parents of the two kids argued in court as to the rightful owner of the car, a third party – the janitor who consumed the coffee and threw the cup away in the first place – came forward to stake a claim and demand a DNA test on the spit on the rim. One cant help but wonder how the lawyers involved felt about their career path. (The judge, missing the opportunity to invoke the wisdom of Solomon and cut the car in thirds, awarded the prize to the 10 year old.)

What was learned in the process?

What was learned in the process? A janitor learned to roll up the rim, a 10 year old learned she needed a new friend, and hopefully three lawyers learned they needed to demand larger retainers.


Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann

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