Humans have used some form of toilet tissue throughout the ages. From grass and leaves to straw and seashells, there have been a number of ways that humans have tried to get a clean feeling going on back there. The official invention of toilet paper dates back to 14th century China, but for our modern day commercialized version, the first packages began to hit store shelves in 1857. Containing aloe vera, it was invented by Joseph C. Gayetty.
Why do we not really remember Gayetty’s name? His product was not much of a success. This was partially due to the marketing of the toilet paper. It was sold as a medicated item, an accessory for those who were suffering from hemorrhoids. It would be another decade before good old-fashioned toilet paper became popular the world over.
Gayetty is not known for other inventions or listed on other patents, so let’s take a look at some other important toilet paper inventions.
1. It’s Splinter Free
The early days of paper refinement was not perfect. Because paper is made from wood pulp, early sheets would often have large chunks of wood that would not break down. That meant you could get more than a paper cut from a sheet of paper when you were writing a letter. You could also get a splinter. That also meant you could get splinters when using early versions of toilet paper. In 1935, Northern Tissue began creating the first “splinter-free” toilet paper for general use.
2. It’s Not One Ply
If you’ve ever used one-ply toilet paper, then you know how difficult the experience can actually be. It’s flimsy, rips a lot, and leaves you with a bigger mess than before you began. In 1942, St. Andrew’s Paper Mill in Great Britain invented the process of placing one sheet of toilet paper on top of another sheet and then rolling them up together into a single roll. This was the first instance of two-ply toilet paper.
In the late 19th century, the topic of toilet paper was not considered proper in society. No one really wanted to have their own name associated with the invention or any improvements that were being made to it. For that reason, no one is really sure if it was the Scott Paper Company or the Albany Wrapping Paper Company that first came out with perforated toilet paper. These first rolls of toilet paper were being created for clients, so most people knew who had toilet paper rather than who made the toilet paper.
4. Real Old-Fashioned Rolls
In 1867, three brothers first managed to market a roll of toilet paper to make it profitable. Their names were Clarence, Edward, and Thomas – the Scott brothers. The first roll was a single sheet that you had to tear on your own and it didn’t have anything but the paper on it, but it was still an improvement from the corncobs and straw that were often being used.