Tuesday, April 4, 2017

We're On a Roll

by Connie Cortright

How many times in a day do we use common paper products without thinking about them- toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, etc. Who invented these products? When did they come on the market? The stories can be interesting even though the items are very ho-hum.

How about paper toweling? This story goes back into the late 1800s with the Scott Paper Company, founded in Philadelphia. Two brothers, E. Irvin and Clarence Scott, began to mass produce a new product for consumers - toilet paper. By the 1890s they were marketing toilet paper as a more hygienic way to deal with a universal issue.

In 1907 the head of the company Arthur Scott had a huge problem on his hands. His suppliers sent him a whole train car full of rolled paper manufactured incorrectly for toilet tissue. The paper was made too thick to be used for its intended use. Mr. Scott had a choice, either find a new way to use the thicker paper or waste all the money used to purchase the car load of unusable paper.

He heard of a teacher who was concerned about her children having so many colds in her classroom. She gave each student a soft piece of paper to use to wipe their hands instead of the common cloth roller towel by the sink. When each child used his/her own towel, the amount of illness in the room went down dramatically-an idea that is certainly known to all of us today, don't share germs.

Mr. Scott combined her idea with his car load of unusable paper and made a new product. He divided the thicker paper into smaller towel-size squares and called them Sani-Towels. He marketed them for use in public washrooms in schools, restaurants, and railroad stations.

 What does that have to do with this website since we talk about the 20s and 30s? By the 1920s these individual square disposable paper towels were common place in public restrooms, but they weren't available to the general public yet. They were only for commercial use sold by wholesale companies.

Courtesy of Wikicommons
In 1931, the Scott Company introduced these paper towels for use in the kitchen. They were manufactured on long rolls with perforations between the sheets. Thus a new product was now found on grocery shelves. Since then they haven't changed much except for absorbency and size of the sheets.

I've very glad that Mr. Scott found himself faced with a car load of the wrong type of paper. I couldn't imagine living in my kitchen without having paper towels inches away when I cause disasters on my kitchen counters. Just ask my husband!

 Information taken from Paper Towel History - Invention of Paper Towels

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