How to Look at a Tim Hortons Cup

© Copyright 2021 Marina Arnone, Ryerson University.

There is something about ordering a medium double double from Tim Hortons that is quintessentially Canadian. Tim Hortons, Tim’s, Timmies: all words that represent a red cup with a brown lid. Tim Horton was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1949 and opened the first Tim Hortons restaurant in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario, towards the end of his hockey career. Tim Hortons will forever be associated with Canada’s most beloved sport, obvious through their Timbit Sports initiative, as they work to develop young hockey players through community involvement and support.

Pictured is a red Tim Hortons cup with white lettering across the middle and a brown lid.
Marina Arnone. “Tim Hortons Cup”. February 8, 2021. Photograph. ©Marina Arnone.

I don’t think I have ever seen my uncle watch one of my cousin’s late night hockey games without a Tim Horton’s coffee cup in his hand. Hot beverages are served in a red cup, with white lettering diagonally across the middle, and a brown lid. Depending on the time of year, your cup might be covered with roll up the rim prizes and incentives, or it may have a new recyclable cardboard cup sleeve promoting their new dark roast.

In 2018, Tim Hortons introduced a new lid that caused quite a controversy. The old lids were flat with a perforated tab you needed to lift to drink. The new lids we see today are raised, has a large maple leaf imprint and a smaller mouth opening; leaving more room for foam in cappuccinos, and according to Tim Hortons, eliminates the excessive amount of coffee the flat lid would often cause to spill out. In a 2019 Instagram poll, Justin Bieber asked his 161.4 million followers who missed the old Tim Hortons lids, with 70% of voters saying yes. As controversial as this may be, I have no opinion on the lids.

When I think of late-night drives with friends, or casual first dates, I think of a red Tim Hortons cup. They might not serve the best coffee in the city, it actually isn’t very good, but it is about the comfort of the cup and the experiences that have been shared around it. I have had too many early works shifts in which a Tim Hortons drive thru was the only incentive to get me out of bed at 6:00 am. I have had too many Tim Hortons parking lot interventions about why my best friend needed to dump her toxic boyfriend, or why I absolutely needed to dye my hair blonde; too many solidified relationships shared over a cup of coffee.

A Tim Hortons coffee cup is much more than it appears to be. It is a red cup with a brown lid that holds black, or brown depending on what you like, liquid. But it is so much more than that. It represents a sense of belonging within friendships, relationships and communities. We can think back to being young, so excited to for our mom to buy herself a coffee, so we can maybe get a few Timbits or a vanilla dip donut. With a Tim Hortons on almost every street corner in Vaughan, it is absolutely no surprise that a red cup has become so important to our personal and Canadian heritage.

Works Cited

Arnone, Marina. “Tim Hortons Cup.” 2021. Digital Photograph.

“Community.” Tim Hortons, Accessed 7 Feb. 2021.

Elkins, James. How to Use Your Eyes. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Elliott, K. Josh. “Why Tim Hortons coffee lids are about to change.” Global News, 17 Aug. 2018, Accessed 7 Feb. 2021.

Scott, Katie. “Justin Bieber posts rant about Tim Hortons cup lids.” Global News, 30 Dec. 2019, Accessed 7 Feb. 2021.

Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.