Monthly Archives: November 2017

Toilet Paper — Over, Under, or Just Right

Cats and Toilet Paper Roll

As faithful readers know, I like to look up anniversaries of events that changed modern life. So imagine my delight when I discovered December 22, 1891 is the date Seth Wheeler received the patent for his toilet paper roll. I’m informing you now because life gets hectic that close to Christmas and you might want to celebrate early.

It appears that the cats playing with this toilet paper roll found a dispenser with the paper going over the roll, confirming received wisdom that threading the paper under the holder creates a tidier appearance and makes it harder for pets to unravel the paper. Advocates of threading the paper over the holder claim it reduces the transfer of germs and makes the end easier to find.

Toilet Paper Patent DrawingsThis is a debate of some importance, so you can imagine the excitement when illustrations of Wheeler’s patent drawing became public. Clearly, Wheeler meant the paper to go over the holder.

The historian in me engaged, as I delved deeper into toilet paper history. It appears Joseph C. Gayetty invented the first patented toilet paper in 1857. Gayetty’s Medicated Paper sold in flat sheets. It’s generally thought advertising didn’t enter public consciousness until the 1920s, but Gayetty’s ad demonstrates him as a man ahead of his time.

Gayetty's Medicated Paper advertisementGayetty marketed his Medicated Paper for the Water Closet as the Greatest Necessity of the Age. “Printing paper, everybody knows, is rank poison to tender portions of the body.” In the long run, “how much cheaper in every respect is it to use a paper made of the purist material and medicated with the greatest care?” Product assurance guaranteed by a water mark on every sheet. Gayetty’s paper was sold until the 1920s.

Scott Tissue Toilet PaperWheeler was the first to to patent toilet paper on a roll, but he may not have been the first inventor. Scott Paper Company developed it in 1880 and began selling the product under their own brand in 1896. An advert from 1915 warns consumers about Toilet Paper Sales. The customer sees an announcement of eight or ten rolls of toilet paper for a quarter. “Did you ever ask yourself how much real paper there is in these rolls?” . . . Scott Tissue Toilet Paper has 1000 sheets to the roll for ten cents and is “soft as old linens,” snowy white, and very absorbent.”

Ladies' Home Journal 1948 advertToilet Paper hasn’t changed much. Each producer claims softness, absorbance, and that clean, fresh feeling.

Charmin uses animated bears in their popular ads which also demonstrate the ongoing debate about how to put toilet paper in the holder. In the ad from 2011, the paper is threaded under the roll.

In the 2016 ad, it’s over the roll.

The important thing is to find the method that works best for the household. Cats get into the toilet paper no matter which method you choose.


Illustrations from Wikimedia Commons.

Cats with Toilet Paper by Dan4th. Creative Commons Attribution.

Toilet Paper Roll, U.S. Patent Illustration. Public Domain.

The Greatest Necessity of the Age Advertisement, 1859. Public Domain.

Scott Tissue Toilet Paper Advertisement, 1915. Public Domain.

Soft Weave Advertisement from Ladies’ Home Journal, 1948. No Known Copyright Restrictions.

Toilet Paper History

Amanda Kooser. “Why an 1891 Toilet Paper Patent is All Over Facebook.” Cnet. Mar. 18, 2015

Kim LaCapria. “The Great Toilet Paper Orientation Debate.” Snopes.

Brandon Naff. “The Way You Hang a Toilet Paper Roll Secretly Reveals Your Personality.” KKRV. April 7, 2016

Megan Willett. “124-Year-Old Patent Solves the ‘Over versus Under’ Toilet Paper Roll Debate.” Business Insider. Mar. 19, 2015.

Thanksgiving Trivia

If you’re looking for silly activities after your Thanksgiving meal, why not play Thanksgiving Trivia? Category 1: How did Thanksgiving get started? Before Thanksgiving meant too much food, football games, and the Macy’s Day Parade, it was a day to thank God for, in the case of Pilgrims, sustenance itself. The first Pilgrims to America… Continue Reading

NANOWRIMO aka National Novel Writing Month

Writers are solitary people who play with imaginary friends. We function best in spaces where we can shut the door. If that isn’t possible, we’re known to wear noise-cancelling headphones. Ernest Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He failed to mention that… Continue Reading

Thoughts on Weekends aka Work-Life Balance

On Fridays I post a floral picture and wish everyone a good weekend. But even as I extend my wishes, I realize that what I think of when I use the word “weekend” isn’t accurate. Many people work on weekends as part of their regular hours. Others bring work home. I did that for years.… Continue Reading

Visit My Facebook PageVisit My Facebook PageVisit My Facebook PageVisit My Facebook PageVisit My Facebook PageVisit My Facebook Page