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It was a slogan they never could’ve guessed would become controversial.
And now coffeeshop chain Caribou Coffee is stuck with who knows how many coffee sleeves bearing perhaps the worst possible motivational quote for the coronavirus quarantine: “FIGHT THE URGE TO REMAIN INDOORS.”
The unfortunate sleeves went viral Monday after one employee, Michael Reinhardt, shared how he was handling them on TikTok.
“So, I work in this coffee shop, right?” Reinhardt said in the video. “And we have these sleeves for the coffee cups so you don’t burn your hand, and they have cute, outdoorsy nature phrases — very on brand for us.”
“But, I have to go in and I have to take out every fourth one,” he continued. “Because they printed them with the words ‘Fight the urge to remain indoors.'”
Reinhardt didn’t respond to requests for an interview, but people on TikTok sure got a kick out of his highlighting the ill-timed catchphrase.
“I feel bad for the guy who came up with that because at the time it was probably a killer quote,” one user commented.
A few of Reinhardt’s fellow Caribou employees have also commented, saying they’ve had to do the same thing at their stores.
“I work at Caribou too and as soon as I saw the box of sleeves I knew EXACTLY what was happening,” one commented. “I had to do the same thing.”
Prior to Reinhardt’s TikTok, the sleeve had caught the eyes of people during the pandemic, with many pointing out the irony on social media.
“I think Caribou Coffee needs to update their coffee sleeves,” @astrosaxon tweeted.
A spokesperson for the chain confirmed to BuzzFeed News that they are asking their workers to “go through and sort out materials that were produced before the pandemic and aren’t exactly on point with the heroic efforts that are being made to contain the Coronavirus.”
But some of the more creative employees have found another solution.
Some people have said they were served their drink with the sleeve — just with a select few words crossed out, so it instead reads “REMAIN INDOORS.”
Dan Lew, a 34-year-old in Edina Minnesota — Caribou Coffee’s founding city — said his wife got him coffee in April. He didn’t even realize something had been crossed out at first.
“I initially thought it was amazing that Caribou was so well prepared for the pandemic [because] I didn’t realize that the top was blacked out,” Lew told BuzzFeed News. “Then when [my wife] pointed that out, I squinted…and it went from funny to great.”
Lew’s wife, Lindsay Quass, said she caught on right away and thought it was a hilarious fix.
“Normally wouldn’t have noticed the cup. Immediately saw part of it was blacked out, and had to know what was underneath,” Quass said. “Laughed when I saw what it was. Just too perfectly wrong.”
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Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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