Angry Canadians Mourn Coffee Promotion

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News worth an honorable mention, including the long faces north of the border as coffee chain Tim Horton's ends its free coffee contest.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Hey, welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We are online all the times at npr.org/bryantpark. We're going to help you out here. We're going to give you a couple news stories, the kind you can just bust out at the water cooler or the local coffee shop, that cute guy you've been trying to look for a way to strike up a conversation.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Did you hear the one about...

STEWART: Did you hear the one about the angry Canadians who want more coffee? See? That would work. That would work. Here's The Ramble. All right, that might not work.

MARTIN: No, no, no. It depends on the guy. So, we talked about a man who had popped the question on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, you remember this story?

STEWART: Yeah.

MARTIN: Well, he has apparently been out-dorked. A guy from New Jersey named Bernie Peng used this videogame called "Bejeweled" to propose to his girlfriend Tammy Li. Peng reprogrammed the video game for her Nintendo DS, and he hid - he embedded a marriage proposal and an image of an engagement ring within.

STEWART: I think that's actually kind of sweet.

MARTIN: It's cute, right? She played until she got to the marriage proposal and she said yes, which is nice, and they are getting married on Labor Day weekend. So what does PopCap Games, makers of "Bejeweled," say about these shenanigans? Well, they said, quote, "Any time a hacker manipulates code so that a guy gets the gal, well, you've got to respect that," end quote.

The company is providing copies of "Bejeweled 2 Deluxe" as wedding favors, providing a thousand bucks for "Bejeweled"-theme decorations, and flying the couple to Seattle, the home of PopCap headquarters. So, they are getting a little advertising out of that.

STEWART: That's like double happy ending with that one.

MARTIN: Yeah.

STEWART: Hey, trouble brewing at Tim Hortons, the Canadian donut and coffee chain. If you don't know about Tim Hortons, think Gutto's(ph) but north. The company is in the news because some Canadian coffee drinkers, they say there is a problem with this promotion the company has. It's called a "Roll Up to the Rim to Win." Here's how it goes. Coffee drinkers unfurl the rim of their paper cup to see if they've won free coffee or some other prize.

Now this year, many Canadian fans of the contest say, you know what, people aren't winning this. There's something up. There are not enough winners out there. Some of have been counting the win ratio and find that it is worse than the one in nine promised by the chain, Tim Hortons. One coffee drinker who started a blog about the contest counted a 35-cup losing streak. So, what do they think is going on? Some say winning cups are being sent to the United States. Yeah, blame it on us.

MARTIN: Blame it on us.

STEWART: Others suspect that Tim Hortons' workers are stealing the winners after a contestant was quoted in a newspaper saying he say tooth marks on one of his rims.

MARTIN: Wow.

STEWART: For the record, Tim Hortons says it hires a professional contest company to assure the odds are right, and a spokesman says rumors of regional prize disparities not true. However, another blogger from Calgary said he's winning ahead of the odds. So, maybe just all the winners went to one place.

MARTIN: I'm just so amazed that there are people out there who have enough time in their day that they're really keeping track of all of that.

STEWART: Coffee is important to people, Rachel.

MARTIN: It is, it really is. It's important to me. French lawmakers are cracking down on websites that they say promote eating disorders. Now, there are lots of very thin people in France, thin women in particular. And there are a lot of websites, apparently, in France that allegedly promote eating disorders, or don't discourage them and may end up encouraging them.

STEWART: Some of them full-on promote it.

MARTIN: They do?

STEWART: Yeah, there are some really scary anorexia sites.

MARTIN: That's crazy. Anyway, according to the New York Times - numbers that - number of websites that do this at around 400. As Alison points out, they offer tips on crash dieting, binging, and purging, and hiding weight loss. The letter of the law also covers magazines. A sponsor of this legislation says, quote, "The sociocultural and media environment seems to favor the emergence of troubled nutritional behavior, and that's why I think it's necessary to act."

The response from the French Federation of Couture, quote, "Never will we accept in our profession that a judge decides if a young girl is skinny or not skinny. That doesn't exist in the world, and it will certainly not exist in France." Proliferators of media...

STEWART: France is not in the real world?

MARTIN: That promote eating disorders would face punishments of up to three years in prison, and more than 70,000 in fines under the proposed law. So, don't do it, folks.

STEWART: Here's a story caused a little bit of - several questions in our morning meeting, shall we say? It's out of Texas. A Texas woman says she left her seven-year-old asleep in the car for just a minute when she ran in to her apartment Monday night. Apparently, her husband had a really nasty deep splinter in his finger and had to be in hospital, so they ran home just to get something.

They were expecting to be there overnight. She said when she came back down the car was gone. She thought the car had been stolen, but in fact, she had been towed because she parked in a fire lane. The police arrived. They investigated. They thought it was a kidnapping, but the tow truck driver then returned, unhooked the car and sped away because the seven-year-old had been asleep in the backseat the whole time.

The cops stopped the driver, arrested him for abandoning and endangering a child without the intent to return. The police are now saying they expect to drop the charges. The driver's attorney says the driver left in a hurry because he knew the parents were probably angry and he said, quote, "It's a dangerous occupation. Every interest of the tow truck driver is to get out of there quickly so you don't get shot or beaten up," end quote.

MARTIN: Wow. There was some debate over how long exactly it takes to tow a car or a truck.

STEWART: Yes.

MARTIN: Hey, folks. That's your Ramble. Links to these stories and more on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.

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