Many great technological leaps were made during the Victorian period but none quite so important to American culture as the invention of toilet paper. Electricity? Whatever. The internal combustion engine? Who cares? TP changed our lives. Before toilet paper, people in the late 1800’s used all kinds of weird things to clean themselves. Corn cobs were apparently a popular option. Corn cobs! How did that work? I don’t want to know how that worked. In the public baths, the Romans used a sponge on a stick that they put back into a bucket of water for the next user. That particular fact horrified me in 8th grade Latin class. Toilet paper as we know it today was popularized in 1890 by the Scott brothers, who managed to convince the American populace that their new rolled paper was better than pages from the Sears-Roebuck catalog.
While the Scott brothers were initially embarrassed to be selling poop-paper, their advertising campaign was the first step in getting Americans to become more comfortable with the idea of purchasing an “unmentionable” product. And thank goodness for that because I am not enthusiastic about the corn cob idea.