The More You Know: Toilet Paper Was Created in New York State
The pandemic has truly taught us all one thing: you don't know what you've got until it's gone. That also hits home when it comes to toilet paper, which experienced a shortage in the early stages of the pandemic. Did you know it was invented right here in New York State?
Back in the day, according to the History Channel, before toilet paper was the communal sponge. The sponges, known as tersoriums, may have been used once or cleaned in a bucket of vinegar or salt water and reused.
Paper originated in China and became widely available in the 15th century. In the western world, modern commercially available toilet paper didn’t originate until the year 1857.
New Yorker, Joseph Gayetty, marketed a "Medicated Paper, for the Water Closet," sold in packages of 500 sheets for 50 cents. It was in fact the only commercial toilet paper in the U.S. from 1857 until 1890. The product created by Gayetty were aloe-infused sheets of manila hemp dispensed from Kleenex-like boxes. He claimed his "medicated paper" prevented hemorrhoids.
Gayetty was so proud of his therapeutic bathroom paper that he had his name printed on each sheet. But his success was limited. Americans soon grew accustomed to wiping with the Sears Roebuck catalog, pages from the Farmer's Almanac and leaves and they saw no need to spend money on something that came in the mail for free.
Toilet paper took its next leap forward in 1890, when two brothers named Clarence and E. Irvin Scott popularized the concept of toilet paper on a roll. The Scotts' brand became more successful than Gayetty's medicated wipes, in part because they built a steady trade selling toilet paper to hotels and drugstores. The unfortunate part of their success was that because American's were so embarrassed by their bodily functions, the brothers were ashamed of their work. They didn't even take credit for their work until 1902.
Fast forward to today, and the product is something we all can appreciate. So much so, people buy in bulk all the time.
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