You may not even know today is a holiday, but it’s one that celebrates what is arguably one of the most important, and frequently used, inventions of our time: Toilet paper! Yes, August 26 is National Toilet Paper Day.
In honor of the humble roll of paper that’s by our side when we need it most, here are five things you probably didn’t know about toilet paper, courtesy of Veritiv, which sells almost half a billion rolls of TP each year (enough to stretch from the Earth to the moon and back 31 times)!
- It’s been around a long, long time. The first documented use of toilet paper dates back to the 6th century AD, in early medieval China.
- It was big business even before the Renaissance. By the early 14th century, in China’s modern-day Zhejiang Province, 10 million packages of toilet paper were produced.
- Joseph Gayetty, an inventor, is credited as the introducing the first modern commercially available toilet paper in the U.S. in 1857. Dispensed in flat squares embossed with his name, Gayetty was run out of the market in the 1920s by the more easily dispensed rolled paper we use today.
- It’s a big business. More than seven billion rolls of TP are sold yearly in the U.S. alone.
- Toilet paper made from rapidly renewable plant-based fibers such as wheat and bamboo is commercially available and puts let pressure on natural forests.
Bonus TP Fact
People have used some interesting things in place of TP. Some, like water, make sense. Others, such as seashells, sound downright painful. Hay, corncobs, leaves, sticks, stones, sand moss, hemp, wool, husks, fruit peels, ferns, sponges, and broken pottery have all been used in the bathroom at one time or another.
And Finally…The Big TP Debate
In 2010, toilet paper company Cottonelle used the debate over whether TP should be hung “over” (position B in the illustration at right, away from the wall) or “under” (position A, close to the wall) as part of an advertising campaign. “The Cottonelle Roll Poll,” an online poll to find out which method Americans preferred, attracted more than 500,000 voters. The verdict? 72% of voters chose the “over” position.