The history of toilet paper is actually quite interesting. While the subject matter may not be something that is talked about often, it is somewhat compelling to know how, over the years, we arrived at the convenient rolls of toilet paper that we use today. The ancient Romans and Greeks left some proof of their use of stones and chunks of clay which would evolve into a sponge attached to a stick strategically. In the 14th century, a Chinese emperor demanded large sheets of paper for his bathroom needs. As paper became more prevalent, various forms were used. The Farmer's Almanac even had a hole in the corner for the intended use of hanging it in an outhouse for easier access. Early American colonists even used corn cobs. Joseph Gayetty, in 1857, is credited with inventing the original version of the toilet paper we use today.
The Differences in Ply
The early versions of toilet paper were made of one-ply sheets stacked and sold in packages. Ply refers to the number on layers of paper on a sheet of toilet paper. In 1883, Seth Wheeler patented for the first version of the roll and dispenser that we use today. Those early one-ply sheets are now available in many different plies on a roll for convenient use. The choice of which ply to use can either be based on a personal preference or on some plumbing factors. While one-ply will not offer the most absorbency, it is the least likely to clog plumbing pipes making it popular in public restrooms. As the ply goes up, the absorbance increases. The most popularly sold are two and three-ply. While higher plies are available for the most comfort, they may not be suited for your individual plumbing systems, especially if you use a septic tank. Choosing the right ply is a personal matter of comfort and practicality.
Popular Brands of Toilet Paper
Now, toilet paper production is big business with several different companies competing for consumer sales. Here are some of the most popularly selling brands on the market today based on sales from last year.
- Charmin : Leading the pack in overall sales last year was Charmin, a division of Procter and Gamble, with over $2 billion in sales among their combined labels. Founded in 1928, the company was named by an employee who described the softness of the toilet paper as charming, leading to the name, Charmin. Offering a wide variety of softness and thickness along with great quality, Charmin leads the industry and has been particularly innovative with their marketing approach over the years.
- Private Label: 2nd in sales in the US with total sales of $1.7 billion was the Private Label brand. This environmentally conscious company only uses biodegradable and recyclable products to produce their entire line of paper products. Definitely on the high-end, luxury side of the toilet paper list, they are a powerhouse in the industry because of both their quality and their focus on our sustainable environment.
- Angel Soft: Coming in 3rd for sales was Angel Soft, manufactured by Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, with $1.2 billion recorded last year. Founded in 1987, they offer one-ply and two-ply toilet paper as well as promoting the environmental advantages of recycling their paper rolls and packaging materials. Their popularity is due to the quality of their product combined with its affordability.
- Scott: Ranking 4th in sales is Scott Paper Company with just under $1 billion is sales. Founded in 1879, they are often credited with manufacturing the first toilet paper roll sold to the public. Owned by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Scott toilet paper is also available in different plies and maintains their focus on responsibly sourcing their manufacturing needs without harming the environment.
- Quilted Northern: 5th on the list is Quilted Northern with roughly $700 million in recorded sales. Founded in 1901, they also claim to be the first company to sell toilet paper on a roll. They gained their popularity by backing up their claims for softness with their marketing promotion of a splinter-free product and pioneered sterilized toilet paper.
- Kleenex Cottonelle: Running a close race with Quilted Northern is Kleenex Cottonelle with just under $700 million in sales. Another division of Kimberly-Clark, Cottonelle, sold under the Kleenex brand, is a major player in the toilet paper industry. Founded in 1972, their marketing compared the softness of their product to a cotton ball which proved to be a very appealing aspect for the consumer.