The Evolution of Toilet Paper

By: Jill Ahrens
March 9th, 2020

Who would’ve guessed that toilet paper could impact our everyday lives to such an extent? Toilet paper was invented by Joseph C. Gayetty in 1857. The first product he released was aloe-infused manila hemp. However, his success was short-lived. The Sears catalog quickly became America’s favorite toilet paper substitute, and since it was free, it put a damper on Gayetty’s business.

Toilet paper didn’t become the commodity it is today until the 19th century, when houses were starting to be constructed with indoor plumbing systems. At this time, toilet paper was a very taboo subject, and was not talked about openly. A brand called Charmin quickly took advantage of this opportunity, portraying a feminine logo and a woman on their packaging. This was to give the consumer a more pleasant view of toilet paper and avoid talking about its actual use. Now, Charmin is known for its babies and bear cubs on their packaging, still instilling a pleasant feeling in the consumer.

There’s nothing like an unexpected shortage to make you wonder how a simple household item came to be. No one truly knows the future of the toilet paper industry, but today, business is booming.

Following the United States’ annual use of 141 rolls of toilet paper per capita is Germany with 134 rolls and the United Kingdom with 127. Japanese consumers average 91 rolls annually, while the Chinese average just 49.