Monday, September 11, 2006

Toilet paper

Did you know that toilet paper has been around since AD 1391? But only for Chinese emperors (and, I expect, their families and pals) who purportedly used 720,000 sheets of this paper per year. And we're not talking about little 4 inch squares, here folks. Each sheet was 2 feet by 3 feet. That's a LOT of tp!

The first roll of toilet paper was manufactured by the good old Scott Paper Company in 1879.

Obviously the need for tp has been around a lot longer than the product. What did folks use before the mass production of Charmin?

Well, I'm not sure we know about the common masses, but the rich folks in ancient Rome used wool & rosewater and/or salt water soaked sponges-on-a-stick. And the rich folks in France used lace, wool and hemp (a use for hemp that contemporary hemp advocates may have overlooked?).

Other, more "common" implements of old include hayballs and a scraper stick (Middle Ages); and rags, corncobs, leaves, newspapers/magazines and mussel shells (???) for early Americans. Vikings, whom we tend to think of as barbarians, used lambs' wool, (so soft and full of lanolin). Snow and tundra moss for Eskimos (brrrrr! can you say freezer burn?) Coconut shells for Hawaiians (ow!). An old anchor line for sailors (argh). Water and the left hand in India.

Reference: Toilet Paper World


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