C70 to Kick Coffee Can of Destiny Down the Ben Franklin Parkway into New Coffee Museum
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C70 to Kick Coffee Can of Destiny Down the Ben Franklin Parkway into New Coffee Museum


C70 to Kick Coffee Can of Destiny Down the Ben Franklin Parkway into New Coffee Museum

Philadelphia, PA (April 1, 2019) --- The Committee of Seventy (C70) announced today that it has negotiated rights to acquire the "Coffee Can of Destiny" (CCoD) from the Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners and plans to donate it to a new Philadelphia Coffee Museum to be built on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Horn & Hardart coffee can (or "caffeine genie"), which has held the numbered balls candidates draw to determine ballot position in Philadelphia elections since the 1970s, has gained iconic status in Philadelphia. But, said David Thornburgh, Seventy's President and CEO "it's a relic of history and it really does belong in a museum. With great local brews like Elixr, Old City Coffee, Green Street, Rival Bros, ReAnimator and national brews like Saxby's and La Colombe, Philadelphia's a great coffee town. We're thrilled that the Coffee Can of Destiny will have such a prominent place in which to live out its golden years. It certainly doesn't belong in the voting process."

Ballot position is now hugely important in races for judicial seats or City Council at-large slots in which large numbers of little-known candidates are on the ballot. Jonathen Tannen, an election researcher at Sixty Six Wards, has found that in local judicial races "[b]eing in the first column [on the ballot] nearly triples your votes versus being in the fourth or later." Patrick Christmas, C70 Policy Director noted "that's just plain stupid."

The Can's retirement is made possible by the ability to randomize ballots in a new voting system approved last month by the City Commissioners, which will be rolled out for the general election in November. But the planned move to the Parkway has already stirred controversy. Attorneys for Adrian Rivera Reyes, who drew the prized pole position among Democratic City at-large candidates, have raised the threat of legal action should the Can's retirement invalidate his lucky draw. 

In making the Horn & Hardart coffee can the real Judge of Elections, the City Commissioners gave a nod to a once-renowned company that had its origins in Philadelphia in the 1880s. Horn & Hardart was best known for its chain of Automats, pioneering fast-food restaurants that were once practically ubiquitous in New York City as well as in Philadelphia. The last Automats closed in 1991. No one seems to know when Horn & Hardart last sold coffee, or whether it was any good.

Construction of Philadelphia's Coffee Museum, planned for the southeast corner of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 22nd St., is expected to being later this year. It will be the first coffee museum in the continental U.S., although there are also similar institutions in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Notable coffee museums around the world are located in Santos, Brazil, and Vienna, as well as in Prague, Dubai, Taiwan and Kobe, Japan.