Toilet paper and the toilet roll holder: a fun history lesson

We’ve all discovered that toilet paper has become an essential part of life, ever since everyone desperately started stacking up on it two years ago. Like seriously, what would we do if we didn’t have toilet paper when we’re doing our thing in the little room? Do you ever wonder what life looked like before toilet paper existed?

Different cultures, different methods

Before toilet paper was invented, different cultures used different methods. In Japan, thin sticks that varied in length, named chuugi were used. The Romans used the same sticks, but with a sponge attached to them. Other cultures used things such as grass, hay, leaves or even potsherds. Yup, potsherds to clean off your butt… Hey, we didn’t come up with it. As of the 14th century rice paper was developed for the Chinese empire. However, back then one sheet was about a meter long and half a meter wide and they used to tear it in small pieces before using it.

In the 18th century the rise of the spread of newspaper also increased the amount of newspapers that got used as toilet paper. Also, corn cobs seemed to be a public favourite, and no, we also don’t really understand why.

The first commercial toilet paper

1857 seems like ages ago and well, it is ages ago, but that was the year in which the first commercial toilet paper was introduced! Sadly enough, the inventors did not get lucky, paying for paper that gets thrown away in a second, was not really something people were waiting for. However, later when the first newspapers with colour came about, newspaper became more slippery… About 20 years later the Scott brothers created the Scott Paper Company. In Philadelphia the toilet paper like we know it today, was produced and packaged under 2000 different brand names.

First toilet roll holder

Research has shown that back in 1871 the first patent on the toilet paper roll was requested by Seth Wheeler. 20 years later, this same guy also requested a patent for the first toilet paper fixture.

Guess what? The patent also clearly shows the one and only correct way to hang your toilet paper. Like seriously, it’s drawn on a 150 year old picture, no discussion possible. On the patent is a drawing of toilet paper hanging over the roll, thus the loose end is draped over the top.

Keep rolling with us

  • Orange Lions and The Good Roll together make the world less shitty

    Learn more