Forget the fiscal imbalance. Ottawa inventor Paul Kind has found the solution to a real Canadian problem, one that bedevils thousands of citizens every day.
Using Kind's Rimroller, it's an easy operation to roll up the rim on a disposable coffee cup to check for a winning number. With Tim Hortons promising more than 30 million potential prizes in the 2007 contest, that's a lot of broken fingernails and chunks of wax wedged between the teeth.
"It couldn't be easier," the Rimroller website says. "Grip the Rimroller by the thumb and finger spots, push it down over the lip of the empty contest cup, and pull it straight upwards. The rim will be unrolled!"
The device, which took Kind many trials to perfect, is made of plastic and doubles as a keyring. It's expected to go on sale soon at Lee Valley stores for about $2.50.
But there's always a catch. "The only downside is that we can't guarantee a winning cup every time," the website said.
This isn't Kind's first venture into products to ease the frustrations of daily life. He also has designed the Bookhug, a holder that keeps a book open, and the Handyfold, which folds letters neatly into three sections so they'll fit into an envelope.
Chris Lackner, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, March 08, 2007
An Ottawa inventor has created a "labour-saving device" to help Canadians effortlessly "Roll Up the Rim to Win" at Tim Hortons.
Paul Kind, 62, spent three years developing the Rimroller -- a plastic device the size of a bottle opener that cleanly slices open and unrolls a rim in one fluid motion.
"Do you know that Tim Hortons (sells) close to 300 million cups every year?" Mr. Kind said yesterday. "When you think of all the effort expended by these different people rolling up their rim, you realize what a labour-saving device this is."
The Rimroller, which fits on a keychain, will go on sale at Lee Valley Tools in Ottawa in the next few days and will soon be available at the company's 12 stores across Canada, he said.
To use a Rimroller, a person grips it between their thumb and finger, pushes it down over the lid of an empty cup and pulls up to unroll the cup rim.
The product's website claims, "It takes only a second and it saves you from broken fingernails or wax in the teeth," but playfully warns, "the only downside is that we can't guarantee a winning cup every time."
Roll Up the Rim to Win is an annual contest held by Tim Hortons in which potential prizes -- including free coffee, $1,000 cash prizes and iPods -- are listed under cup rims.
Mr. Kind said he purchased "hundreds" of Tim Hortons coffees over the last three years to conduct rim-rolling experiments.
"I always asked them for a double cup every time," he said. "They probably wondered why, but there certainly was a good reason."
He tried about 12 different Rimroller models -- including a can-opener-style device and a hook-shaped remover.
"I came to the conclusion this was the only way to do it," he said. "It neatly cuts the rim and rolls it up in one movement."
Mr. Kind said he has applied for a patent on his device, and has partnered on the project with manufacturer L-D Tool & Die of Stittsville.
The Rimroller will initially be sold for $2, but its regular retail price is $2.49.
"I find that the rim on those cups is extremely stubborn -- and this was my solution," Mr. Kind said.
Officials with Tim Hortons were unavailable for comment last night.
But patrons of Tim Hortons in Ottawa were divided about the need for the device.
"I won't be buying one," said Mark Paterson, medium-sized coffee in hand. "Nails and teeth work just as well.
"But I didn't think people would ever buy the pet rock either."
Louise LeMoine, who purchases a coffee three to five times a week, said the Rimroller would make an excellent novelty gift.
"I have a hard time doing it," she said of pulling back her cup rims. "I always have to use my teeth, but I get very disappointed every time -- I never win."
The Rimroller is far from Mr. Kind's first invention. He has also invented the Bookhug, a hands-free book holder available in Canada and the U.S., and the Handyfold, a device that perfectly folds letters into three to fit into an envelope.
www.rimroller.com (external - login to view)