Trivia Collection

Should toilet paper be hung over or under?

The perennial question is should toilet paper be hung over or under. Neither method is correct over the other, and you are allowed to select whichever method you prefer based on that method's pros and cons.

Most preferred method:

Georgia-Pacific, the maker of Quilted Northern, once ran a survey and found that 72% of those surveyed believe it should be hung over. (I realize that I am in the minority here.)

Ease of use:

Hotel managers tend to prefer hanging toilet paper over, feeling that this method makes the paper flow easier, prevents it from getting stuck on the back, and making it easier to reach. (Plus, the hotel staff can make those little triangles.)

Sanitation issues:

Hanging it over can make tearing off the paper a two-handed job, meaning more germs on the roll. Handing it under means your hand is more likely to touch the surface behind the roll, transferring germs to the wall or cabinet.

Aesthetic issue:

Hanging it over allows patterned toilet paper to show properly.

The pet factor:

Hanging it over makes it too easy for pets to unravel. Pets generally go for the roll, not necessarily the hanging paper.

Some major moments in toilet paper:

  • 1391: Chinese emperors begin using toilet paper in 2-foot by 3-foot sheets. The Bureau of Imperianl Supplies produces 720,000 sheets per year.
  • 1857: New York entrepreneur Joseph C. Gayetty sells the first packaged, pre-moistened bathroom tissue (called "therapeutic paper") in packs of 500 sheets for 50 cents. He is so proud that he prints his name on every sheet.
  • 1890: Toilet paper on a roll is introduced. Scott Paper doesn't want to be associated with its "unmentionable" product, so it sells the rolls through intermediaries.
  • 1902: Northern Paper Mills introduces Northern tissue, a bundle of 1,000 4-by-10-inch sheets attached to a wire so it can be hung from a nail.
  • 1930: Northern Tissue is declared splinter-free.
  • 1942: Two-ply toilet paper is introduced at St. Andrew's Paper Mill in England.
  • 1973: Johnny Carson makes a joke about a national toilet paper shortage and people rush to clean out store shelves.
  • 1991: U.S. military uses toilet paper to camouflage its tanks in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War.
  • 1999: Japanese inventors unveil the "paperless toilet," which washes, rinses, dries (and flushes).
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