I Buy, You Buy, Why Buy Two-Ply?

TerryJohnston / compfight.com

I wrote this post while sitting on the toilet.


This little snippet of information is not meant to gross you out or decide I’m completely without tact (although that’s probably true). Nope, I sat in the bathroom to remove my writer’s block and get “in the mood.”


A few days ago I realized marketing gurus haven’t publicized an intrinsic part of what makes me tick. And, I wager it’s a sweet nothing that makes you tick, too.


The unspoken language of prosperity: 2-ply toilet paper.


I was visiting the facilities of a wonderful, private Japanese restaurant. (Remember, I’m pregnant. I could probably give you guided tours of every public restroom in two counties by now.) I was on a date with my true love, relaxed, not thinking about anything in particular.


Then I was confronted by the nuisance of all nuisances: a roll of one-ply.


My immediate thought? Oh, no! I wonder if they’re going out of business soon?! My second thought: why on Earth can’t they spring the extra few cents for two-ply?? Third thought: I thought everything in this area was on sewer, not septic…


I’m not the only person on the planet who worries about one-ply. Last November the hard-hitting journalists at the University of Kansas did an expose on the hidden underbottom of the one-ply toilet paper agenda of the maintenance staff.


They discovered it took just under $3/student to supply their annual toilet paper needs – and each student was single-handedly responsible for three rolls of toilet paper consumption each year. Switching to two-ply bumped the price to the mid-$3 range.


We go through significantly more than three rolls of toilet paper per occupant of our house each academic year. But that’s why we buy at Costco. Bulk, baby, bulk all the way. (Did you get the pun? Yuck, yuck!)


Whenever a business is about to go down the toilet the personal paper gets a downgrade. Who can fault an owner for trying to cut costs without rubbing people the wrong way? It’s all about saving the money, right?


Well… maybe not…


Twitter, the world’s most comprehensive social media tool and repository of all knowledge, turned up the comment that with one-ply, paper consumption goes up about 70,000 more sheets than two-ply. No one’s the winner when you use one-ply!


RIght around here in my thought process, I paused to wonder why I cared so much about toilet paper. It’s disposable tissue to wipe your backside. Who really cares?


Then I remembered who cares. My father.


When he was in the military he traveled by air quite a bit. He was a frequent flyer before they had frequent flyers.


One day he noticed the toilet paper supplied by the airline had downgraded. This pleased him not at all and his bum was unhappy, too. Do you know what he did?


He wrote a letter.


Yep. Some people of his generation saved their letters for Congressmen or their foreign pen pal. Not my daddy. He wrote the head of the airline and complained about their toilet paper switch.


And they wrote him back, apologizing for his inconvenience.


Not long after that the toilet paper switched back to a product more comforting to the air passengers. And daddy.


We’re a family of rabble-rousers who care passionately about out toilet experiences.


I have just a few more facts from the Complete Historical Timeline of Toilet Paper:


50 B.C.
The Chinese first made paper with short lengths of bamboo and then later added cotton linen rags which were soaked in water and pounded into swollen pulp. This was then formed into sheets and dried.

The Flushing Toilet was invented by Sir John Harrington, who was a British nobleman and godson to Queen Elizabeth I. He invented a valve that when pulled would release the water from the water closet and suggested flushing at least twice a day. Rumor has it that this is where the name the “John” originated.

Initially, colonial Americans used corn cobs and leaves to cleanse where toilet tissue is used today. Then, when newspapers became available they were used. Also, the Sears catalog and the Farmers almanac were later used. The Almanac had a hole in it so it could be hung on a nail or string. The French Royalty used lace.

New Yorker Joseph Gayetty introduced the first packaged Toilet Tissue in the United States. The Gayette Firm, located in New Jersey, produced and sold a package of 500 sheets selling for $0.50 It was named “Therapeutic Paper” and served as a medical paper. It contained an abundance of aloe to help cure sores. Joseph’s name was printed on each sheet!

Toilet Paper on a roll was introduced by the Scott Paper Company and quickly becomes the nation’s leading producer of TP.

Northern Paper Mills from Green Bay Wisconsin is established and introduces Northern Tissue to be used as a sanitary tissue. It is 1,000 sheets of tissue, each 4×10 inches. Each bundle has a wire through it so it can be hung from a nail.

Northern Toilet Paper is hailed as ’splinter-free’ toilet paper.

Mr. Whipple pushes Charmin toilet paper & appears for more than 20 years on TV, print and radio. The real Mr. Whipple was the president of the Benton & Bowles advertising agency. He came up with “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” ad campaign. He sold the rights to Procter and Gamble for $1. Dick Wilson was a vaudeville actor that played the part in the TV ad.

Mr. Whipple was the third most recognized name in the US behind Richard Nixon and Billy Graham.

Annual global sales on toilet tissue exceed $19 billion. The four major attributes are softness, absorbency, strength and value.

Cheap-Chic-Weddings.Com hosts its First Annual Wedding Dress Contest.  To enter, applicants must submit pictures of themselves in a wedding dress made entirely out of toilet paper, glue, and tape.  The contest continues to be highly anticipated event every year, with the level of competition getting stiffer every year.


Do you care how many ply your toilet paper possesses? When you run into a one-ply do you immediately form a poor judgement of the establishment in question?

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2 thoughts on “I Buy, You Buy, Why Buy Two-Ply?

  • March 27, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I wholehearted (or wholebottomly) agree! I am rather particular about TP. I feel it ought to be soft and absorbant, but not so cushy that it doesn’t do the “job” it’s intended for.

    Haven’t tried Costco brand yet. So far, I’m a Quilted Northern girl. 🙂

  • March 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I care not only about the ply, but also the softness. In my mind, they go hand in hand. I can deal with 1-ply, if it’s soft. I don’t judge the establishment when I see substandard TP, but I do regret that I had to use the bathroom there.


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