Monday, March 23, 2020
Toilet paper gives strength to face crisis
As the COVID-19 global pandemic unfolds, and the confusing whir of current events slowly gives way to the certainties of history, one question will echo down the years, fascinating scholars yet unborn:
What was the deal with toilet paper?
With a deadly plague spreading everywhere, consumers stripped stores, not of batteries or booze, coffee or toothpaste.
But toilet paper. In enormous, cart-filling mega-packs.
And not just in the United States. Australian media described a toilet paper “frenzy” where shoppers pulled knives on each other. In Hong Kong, armed robbers stole pallets of TP. Shelves were stripped in Singapore and Taiwan.
Journalists quizzed those buying the paper for their perspective.
“If everyone’s doing it, I’m doing it, too,” one Sydney shopper reasoned.
The world seemed divided into people either loading up on what was called “therapeutic paper” when it was first patented in 1857, or condemning those who did so for panicking.
It struck me there had to be a third path to understanding. There had to be someone wise. Someone oracular. Someone who knows toilet paper.
“It has been a crazy couple of weeks as related to toilet paper purchasing,” said Kim Sackey. She is consumer knowledge leader at Georgia-Pacific and was speaking from the global headquarters in Atlanta of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of what the company demurely calls “bath tissue.”
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