The first commercial toilet paper was developed in 1857 by Joseph Gayetty. It failed. People didn't want to waste money on toilet tissue when they could use last month's catalogues - which even gave them some reading material while using their outhouse.

Then came Walter Alcock. He developed a roll, instead of flat sheets, but he was attempting to market his product in Victorian England. Prudishness won that battle.

Then along came the brothers Scott right at the time when flamboyant Americans were installing indoor toilets and advertising the most fashionable European toilets like the Pedestal Vase and toilet seats like the Picture Frame. Theirs was the success story. They sold small rolls of Waldorf Tissue (high-falutin' enough for your Picture Frame) under the slogan "soft as old linen". The name was later changed to ScotTissue, but the snobbery remained. A later ad campaign had the tag line "They have a pretty house, Mother, but their bathroom paper hurts."

During the 1970s, the United States experienced shortages of many items, such as gasoline and rasins. Famous talk show host Johnny Carson once said "You know what's disappearing from the supermarket shelves? Toilet paper. There is an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States" That did it! The next day many of the 20 million viewers ran to the stores and bought all of the toilet paper they could find. By noon, most of the stores were completely out.

Although Carson explained on his next show that it all had been a joke and apologized, people still saw empty shelves in the store and panicked. Scott Paper Company ran a video advertisement showing their plants at full steam, but it didn't help. Scott Paper did not mind much, though, because they sold more toilet paper that day than for the next two months!

It took three weeks before the shelves were restocked. The shortage was finally over, and remains the only shortage ever caused by a single consumer.

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