The History Of Toilet Paper & Why We Hoard It Today

The History Of Toilet Paper & Why We Hoard It Today 

I admit it.  I have never given any thought to the history of toilet paper, until I saw reports on the news of people buying it by the hundreds and hoarding it.  Although I may have a preference with respect to the brand and style (2-ply), I really have just taken it for granted and given it the "bum's rush" one could say.  However, two random questions have persisted.  Where did toilet paper begin and why do people hoard it now?  The answers might surprise you.

Believe it or not, toilet paper dates back to the Chinese dynasty era, in which an emperor began to use toilet paper to maintain his personal hygiene.  However, his toilet paper was 2 FEET by 3 FEET, making it a Jurassic-sized roll of toilet paper.  However, this would be the catalyst for the world to embrace the use of paper to keep your bottom tops.  Ironically, for those of us old enough to remember Sears stores, their Sears & Roebuck catalog was recycled after reading to become colorful toilet paper for many families in the 1900's.  Similarly, there are many historical references to the Farmer's Almanac also being utilized for this purpose and the hole cut out of the almanac was designed so that it could be hung with care in an outhouse!

The first mass-produced toilet paper was actually created in 1857.  I would like to take this moment to thank Jospeh Gayetty, who was the first person to sell toilet paper for commercial sales (although it was not an option to "tear" individual squares yet).  In a move that even Donald Trump would smile at, Gayetty had his own name printed onto each and every sheet.  Marketed as a medical product to prevent hemorrhoids, it contained aloe  and was extremely costly for the average family as it was $12 for 500 sheets. 

Because there were so many free options (again, thanks to Sears and Farmer's Almanac), this toilet paper failed to capture the wallets and hearts of consumers.  It was not until 1871 that perforated toilet paper would be patented, and lead to the Scott brand of toilet paper gaining popularity.  However, it was a product that people were embarrassed to buy, and it actually contained splinters so it literally was a "pain in the ass" to use.  Once indoor plumbing became commonplace, toilet paper was redesigned to become much softer, easier on the skin, and able to be flushed without causing problems to plumbing systems.  Charmin toilet paper was sold 

Panic-buying during COVID-19 has led to consumers racing out and purchasing large quantities of toilet paper.  However,  toilet paper is readily available and is actually made in B.C. Did you know?  Purex bathroom tissue is produced in New Westminster so everyone on Vancouver Island should rejoice in the knowledge that we have a strong supply chain for this product, even during this pandemic.  Many researchers believe that the hype of toilet paper was created on social media, and is actually an irrational response to stress.  I know that I do feel comforted by the fact that I have an extra roll or two right now.


I wanted to take a moment and thank each of my clients, fellow real estate agents, videographers, floor plan designers, landscapers, photographers, sign installers, lawyers, notaries, insurance providers, and appraisers for their professionalism and support during this unprecedented time as we navigate this "new normal".  I am so grateful for the trust that our clients give to us as we assist them with often the largest investment they will make.  Whether it is a tiny home, a waterfront estate, a retirement home, or a family home with a yard for the children - we are here to help.  
It is important to make informed decisions that will help you protect your investment.    

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