If you’re like most people, you never notice toilet paper until you need it. Given that the majority of schools do not include the history of toilet paper in their curriculum, we will fill that huge void.
First, we must begin with the definition. According to Wikipedia, toilet paper is “a product of soft paper used to maintain personal hygiene after human defecation or urination”. Well, it seems that Wikipedia never shoved toilet paper in their nose to stop a hemorrhage, or used it to crush spiders.
Here are 7 fun facts about toilet paper throughout history:
1 – Payment in toilet paper
No one felt the disaster of the Russian industries more than the workers of the factories of Penza, a city located 550 miles southeast of Moscow. The employees of the watch factory with liquidity problems as they vanished their happiness just at the time you receive your pay: 150 rolls of toilet paper per head.
This “generous” bonus to their already sad wages caused many workers to lose their minds. One of them even jumped from the roof of the factory, leaving a suicide note which indicated that his funeral expenses should be paid by the director of the company.
Workers from other places were somewhat more fortunate, for they received cucumbers, pineapples, and even bras. According to a survey carried out in 1998, only 18 percent of Russian workers reported that they are paid regularly.
2 – Toilet paper by medical recommendation
Scott Paper Company, a leading brand in the toilet paper industry, practiced one of the most effective ways to advertise their product: show pictures of the rear wounded, and insist that people were using toilet paper wrong.
In 1929, these advertisements attracted a huge attention. One of their ads read: “After 40 years, doctors say that you have a 50% chance of contracting any rectal disease if you are using rough or impure toilet paper”.
Although some may view this statement as an incitement to alarm and fear, the truth is that these ads were not too far from the reality. Before 1930, the manufacturing process of toilet paper did not remove all of the small splinters of wood pulp.
After discovering that cooking the pulp for a longer time made the chips slurry, Scott Paper announced its product as “no chips” and said that all doctors recommend their toilet paper.
3 – The crisis of toilet paper, 1971
In 1971, Hawaii panicked to discover that there wouldn’t be a roll of toilet paper in the whole island. It all began to 3,900 kilometers from the island when a few workers of the transport industry went on strike and cut off a large fleet of ships that normally supplied to Hawaii with basic objects for the home.
Around 15,000 workers walked off their jobs in search of higher wages, demonstrating how vulnerable the islands can be. In fact, 90% of goods consumed in Hawaii are transported by sea.
The strike lasted 134 days. In February 1972, an agreement was reached when the workers accepted a wage increase of 14 cents an hour. It is not yet clear what the islanders used during months when they ran out of toilet paper.
4 – Bath in space
According to the National Museum of Air and Space of the United States, one of the most common questions for the astronauts is how they manage to do their needs in space. Many of us are not aware of the months of research and tests that are done to prepare a bath that does not need maintenance.
In a space toilet that is worth more than $ 30 million, everything is meticulously thought out. They do not overlook anything, even the toilet paper from the space shuttle. The Official Science of the ISS Expedition Six, Don Pettit, described the paper as “something that people wouldn’t expect”.
Pettit explained that the “paper” consists of two layers of thick gauze sewn with a layer of brown interleaved tissue. Although unusual, Petit states that the fabric works “very well for the intended purposes”.
5 – A profitable error
As we said earlier, Scott Paper Company took advantage of the demand for improved hygiene, essentially “inventing” the market of toilet paper. Almost a decade later, an error of manufacturing in the factories of Scott revolutionized the company to produce a fabric that was too thick to use as toilet paper.
Recalling a story about a teacher cutting paper for their students to use as wipes for hands (unlike a cloth that is used in common and could spread germs), the founder of the company Arthur Scott proposed to market the first disposable paper towel in the world.
6 – Revelations
In 2013, it was discovered that certain artifacts of ancient Rome displayed since the 1960s in the Roman Palace of Fishbourne, England, might have been used as toilet paper.
The ceramic disks, which were originally categorized by the museum as “game pieces”, contained partially mineralized excrements. According to the French anthropologist Philippe Charlier, it was quite common to find similar pieces near latrines and concluded by quoting an old Greek proverb that said: “Three stones are enough to wipe their ass“.
In addition, Charlier found a picture of an ancient Greek drink that showed the stones that were used to clean up the rear.
7 – The first toilet paper
Joseph C. Gayetty was the first entrepreneur to market the toilet paper back in 1857. Th primeval product consisted of sheets of paper moistened with aloe, called “paper medicine Gayetty“, an authentic luxury for the more hedonistic. The new product, prohibitive price, it was sold under a visionary slogan: “The greatest need of our age, the paper medicine Gayetty to the bathroom.”