The long, tedious and (hopefully) sometimes humorous previous post reminded me of something I saw on the history channel. Now, the average quality of programs on the history channel varies from shoddy, bad, pandering, condescending to outright terrible. However, every now and then, they stun me by showing something that’s well researched, informative and full of interesting trivia.
Today we take toilet paper (yes, tp) for granted, and watch smiling animated bears selling us stuff graded by softness and absorptive capacity. But, think about it, there clearly wasn’t any tp not that long ago, before mass-manufacturing and such like. A lot of people in various parts of the world use good old water to wash their backsides, but what did the rest of the world do? Well, the cleaning material of choice was leaves (the softer the better) or clay pellets for many hundreds of years. Rumor (and the history channel) has it that the Chinese, after inventing paper millennia ago, started using paper for the all important job somewhere in the 12th century.
But the best seems to have been reserved for the early 1900’s, particularly in the United States. Restrooms would be equipped with a choice selection of the latest as well as classic old magazines. The user would then spend a relaxing few minutes relieving oneself, while stimulating the mind with the latest and best in 1910’s fashion, horse-carriages, the model T Ford, geography, cattle-farming or whatever else. Once the job had been successfully negotiated, all that person had to do was to tear off the appropriate pages, complete the required ablutions, leave the remaining pages for the next user of the restroom, and leave.
The ubiquitous and inexpensive availability of TP by the 1940s made the need to leave behind a good supply of catalogs, magazines and newspaper in restrooms needless, and the rest, as they say, is history.
So, here’s a terrific market opportunity for the eager entrepreneur who can put Charmin out of business. Partner with a cartoonist (Jim Davis or Gary Larson would be my recommendations). Print out a series of cartoons on the TP. Heck, you could even print out an entire graphic novel, page by page, on each sheet of TP (hear that, Frank Miller?).
Sell them, make millions, and make millions of people smile every time they use a restroom.
Take that, smiling Charmin bears.