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Toilet Paper Almost Did Not Survive

Updated on April 21, 2017

Imagine you are back in Victorian times. Imagine the joy of acquiring indoor plumbing and a toilet. No more outside trips or holes in the floor. No more messy odors as waste was flushed away.

Sounds great, but it didn't hold up to expectations. You see, back in the pre toilet paper era, one used any number or items to wipe. Most common were old newspapers and magazines. They worked fine when you tossed them in the holes didn't travel through pipes very well. Naturally this lead to come nasty clogs and backups. The new indoor toilet was getting a bad reputation.

Two brothers recognized the problem and knew they had to find an answer. Meet Clarence and E. Irvin Scott. Get the connection? Yes Scott toilet paper as well as other paper products.

In 1890 the Scott brothers had their finished product. The only problem was no one was buying it. Remember this was Victorian times. Everything was prim and proper. People were embarrassed and ashamed of talking about any body function publicly. It just wasn't done. So, even with a solution out there people continued using the magazines and newspaper. The clogs continued.

Luckily the Scott brothers refused to accept this failure. This wasn't a product problem it was a social problem. People were just too embarrassed to ask for and buy toilet paper publicly. Matter of fact, even the Scott brothers were a bid ashamed of their product. They didn't take credit for their innovation until 1902.

Now I bet you are wondering how a breakthrough was made. Nothing spectacular, just a brilliant marketing ploy. The Scott brothers decided to sell their paper to hotels and restaurants. As those customers started using the product, they realized they had to have it. Slowly magazines and newspapers stopped going down the drain.

Another great marketing ploy was done in the 1930s. The Hoberg Paper Company started marking their Charmin brand with pictures of beautiful woman. They formed a campaign that focused on the softness and femininity of the product. Therefore, disguising it's actual purpose.

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Over the years tolet paper has thrived. It's used in pranks such as "toilet papering a house" I' m sure we've all seen strands of toilet paper hanging from the trees. I even remember as a school aged child, throwing wads of wet paper onto the bathroom ceiling or the mirror. Is that still done?

Of course toilet paper was most loved in the the 1970s. In December 1973 Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson joked about a toilet paper shortage. Americans went wild hording as much as they could.

Today it's hard to think about a world without toilet paper. We don't know the agony of cleaning ourselves with magazines or leaves on a daily basis. So maybe we can all show the toliet paper some respect.


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    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 8 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Interesting hub. I've always selected charmin as my favorite tp. Thanks for the history lesson.