Paul Wilson: Late to the party, Hortons finally unveils cup sleeve

No more double-cupping of hot drinks at Hortons. Next week, long after the other chains, Hortons starts using cardboard sleeves.
They've been a while coming, but cup sleeves arrive at your local Hortons on Monday. No more double-cupping. (Paul Wilson/CBC)

In the fall of 1993, a struggling realtor in Oregon named Jay Sorensen patented a cup sleeve. He’d been driving his daughter to school, coffee in hand, and burned himself. He figured there had to be a better way.

He got into a battle with Starbucks, which later came up with a sleeve of its own. But Sorensen has made millions anyway.

According to PatentlyBrilliant.com, the patent for his Java Jacket ran out last week – November 9, 20 years to the day after he got it. 

There’s no reason whatsoever to link one event to the other – but next week Tim Hortons finally launches a sleeve of its own.

Sometimes I just order an orange pekoe decaf tea at Hortons. And they always double-cup it. Seems like overkill.

Coffee drinkers will have to ask 

Now my tea will automatically come in a single cup, a two-inch-wide collar of corrugated cardboard around it. If coffee drinkers want a sleeve, they’ll need to ask for it.

CBC Hamilton asks Hortons: What took so long? 

A tattoo is fine, but for the well-dressed man in Hamilton there's now a new accessory. (Paul Wilson/CBC)

“We have considered introducing a sleeve before,” says Alexandra Cygal, senior manager of public affairs, in an e-mail. “However the sleeve that we have chosen uses less material and has a number of performance advantages to ones we’ve looked at before.”

I have one in my hands. Gotta say it doesn’t look much different than the other sleeves out there. But I’m no expert.

The Hortons model carries Canadian patent 2458487. It was issued six years ago to a guy named Matthew R. Cook, apparently of the U.S.

They take coffee sleeves seriously down there. Sorensen’s Java Jacket now has a place in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. It shares space with Post-it notes, Bic pens and Band-Aids, in a display called Humble Masterpieces.

I have two other questions for Alexandra Cygal, to which she politely responds that she can’t help me “because we don’t have answers yet.”

Question one:

Has Hortons made an announcement yet re the location of its new headquarters? 

Ever since the Seventies, the expanding Hortons empire has been run out of Oakville. The offices are just south of the QEW at Dorval. Over the years, they’ve had to spread out to several neighbouring buildings. 

Ron Joyce, left, and Tim Horton gave birth to a business that grew to more than 4,000 outlets. It began on Ottawa Street North in 1964. (Tim Hortons)

Though there’s been no official announcement, they now want to be in a place where everything can be under one roof. I suggested in the summer that the place should be Hamilton, right where the 4,300-store chain began.

I’m now hearing that Hortons looks to be passing up that free advice and is considering a parcel of land at Hwy 407 and Neyagawa Boulevard, one exit east of Bronte.

There are 700 good jobs at stake – operations, training, finance, marketing. Mayor Bratina needs to take a quick drive down the road and buy the new Hortons CEO a coffee.

Question two: 

Any word yet on what, if anything, Hortons will be doing in the way of renovations at the first store on Ottawa North for next year's 50th anniversary?

And any truth whatsoever to the rumour that the first store would be closed and replaced by a deluxe stadium store at the new Tim Horton Field?

Will there be a museum like no other at the new Tim Horton Field? (Canadian Football League)

This spring, the Hortons corporation took over that first store, Ottawa and Dunsmure. I thought that meant they had great things planned. Perhaps give it a retro look, take it right back to 1964. But there’s been no sign of any changes.

So here’s the word on the street. Hortons forgets about that sacred cradle of the cruller on Ottawa. And 1.5 kilometres to the west, at the ready-next-year new home of the Ticats, Hortons builds a super store. 

And in it, rumour says, a doughnut museum. Only in Hamilton.

Paul.Wilson@cbc.ca  |  @PaulWilsonCBC