Don’t panic: It’s just your toilet paper getting smaller

Evolution of toilet paper I have a friend in Atlanta who I consider an astute observer. The kind of person who is aware of even the most subtle changes in routine or appearance. Which is why it came as no surprise when I received the following e-mail from him:

I think they shrunk my toilet paper.

According to “Derf” (Note: Out of respect for his privacy I have created a fictitious name that should not be held up to a mirror), his recent purchase of Scott toilet paper seemed “more narrow than normal.”

Because many of you are probably reading this over breakfast, I will not explain how he reached this conclusion, nor will I ever be caught without two-ply toilet paper should he come to visit. What I will tell you is that, after reading about his deductive process, I felt a need to go clean my hands, which I did, by dipping them in kerosene and lighting them on fire.

However, once the flames were out, my newspaper instincts took over and began pursuing the truth, in the tradition of other great investigative journalists (from the Weekly World News), by rolling up my sleeves and doggedly typing the words “Smaller Toilet Paper” on Google.

Before I get to the results of my exhaustive investigation, I just have to say I am continually amazed by the Internet, and how a search for even the most obscure subject — like, say… flaming grapefruit jugglers — will somehow yield hundreds of results, most of which are pornographic.

As I expected, “Derf” was right. According to a recent public announcement from Scott Paper Products, the company has narrowed its sheets by nearly an inch. In my opinion, this decision seems to fly in the face of our nation’s widening bottoms.

(If that last sentence makes it in, you’ll know my editor was asleep.)

Scott says the reason it can make its sheets smaller is because its new version has a “longer-lasting, softer and more absorbent texture” that was “extensively tested by consumers before being introduced to the market.”

OK, first things first. I think we can all agree on one thing:


Secondly, I admit I have no experience in the area of product testing, except for trying to avoid those freakishly enthusiastic people handing out free samples at Costco, some of whom — and I’m not proud of this — I’ve gotten past by performing a ninja roll.

Following that train of thought, I have to wonder what qualifies as “extensively tested” when it comes to toilet paper, and whether there’s a connection between the free food samples I’m constantly being offered while shopping, and the questionnaire I found hanging in the bathroom stall during my last visit. I suppose I should be thankful there wasn’t someone in THERE handing out free samples.

Because, to be quite honest, performing a ninja roll at that particular time would’ve been out of the question.

Right now, you’re probably asking yourself: What point is he trying to make?

I know I am.

Just kidding! Hahahahaha!

Of course I have a point! I’m a journalist! It’s my job to have a point; something thought provoking and informative that ties everything together with clarity and insight.

In this case, however, I think it might just be too much to absorb.

(You can write to Ned at, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Oregon, 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

44 thoughts on “Don’t panic: It’s just your toilet paper getting smaller”

  1. Great post. Made me laugh more times that I will admit. 🙂

    No mention about the change in toilet paper commercials lately? In the recent past, they went from being about the brand to now being about its functionality. So gross!

  2. This is too funny!! Maybe “Derf” should switch to the Costco Kirkland brand of TP.

    Over the past year, the roll has grown so large I can hardly fit it onto my TP holder. When I too looked it up on Google, it turns out that it has in fact grown. Apparently there is a world class group of scientists behind every decision made for the tissue that is so lucky to grace our behinds 😀

  3. Didn’t you write a column a while back about some poor bastard getting stuck in the bathroom at work *without* toilet paper? I’m sensing a theme here…

    Tsk, tsk. Time to get your mind out of the toilet, Ned.

      1. Well you could combine the blood-sucking with the toiletry if you wanted to do a three-quel.

        Title it: Holy Crap, A Vampire!

        Or maybe: Dracula Kicks The Can!


        Yes, you read that right. Pun intended. 😛

        I think you could start a whole new genre, Ned. But don’t procrastinate. It’s definitely time to shit or get off the pot.

        1. I’m inspired in so many ways by this idea! The marketing aspect alone for Scott holds a lot of promise: “Scott toilet paper — for vampires, all other brands pale by comparison.” Or simply: “Join the movement to wipe out all vampires…”

          1. I’d join that movement.

            And it suddenly occurs to me that Scott Tissue feels somewhat like recycled wood stakes. Last time I used that brand, I think I ended up with splinters in my nether-regions.

            Hmmm… Perhaps some journalistic research is required.

          2. Not eating yogurt, here, but I definitely snorted hot tea through my nose! Ouch. I promised myself to read one of your columns every morning to start my day off with a laugh. I’m not sure why I picked one on toilet paper shrinkage (or Fatter Bottom Syndrome, depending on your point of view), but this one definitely did the trick. I’m laughing now, even as I mop up sprayed Earl Grey from my desktop! Thanks! (I gotta quit drinking while reading.)

  4. At least you HAD paper on hand this time around. Just wait for the office cutbacks. Remember those bits at the end of the roll of newsprint that you USED to donate to schools etc? Well, errrrr…. there’s a new … ummmm …. recycling program coming.

  5. Well, Ned, I have to chime in to say your friend is right. I don’t have any science or grossness to back up my story, but I’m positive, in just last few months, our toilet paper has gone up in price and it is thinner and there is not as much on a roll. Evil toilet paper lords.

    1. I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear that, and that it’s not just a conspiracy against him. Readers seem to agree Costco is the place to go for larger rolls. They have obviously put thought into this while I, sadly, have already ordered a double-barrel TP holder.

  6. ewwwww. I did not know that. I never noticed.Its just that in my bathroom we have Bidet.(Muslims wash and wipe.unlike other cultures…cough…cough…westerners…cough cough…)(Its just unhygienic to just wipe. Just my opinion, not that, that is important.) any way just go to Costco and get the bigger rolls, thats what my sisters do.

    1. I can see where you’re coming from with the bidet. Definitely more sanitary. For a long time, I thought everyone in Europe just had drinking fountains in their bathrooms.

    1. I think, in the case of shrinking toilet paper, Scott has joined forces with fast food chains. Have you noticed how fast food portions are getting bigger and toilet paper is getting smaller, thus making it necessary to buy MORE toilet paper? I’m just saying… 😉

  7. Hi Ned – my friend Terry Marotta sent me this link. I used to be the ScotTissue brand manager, and exactly two years ago I wrote about this very thing!

    I stopped buying Scott when I discovered this. CVS has the widest 1000 sheet roll that I’ve found.

    And yes, they do market research toilet paper, with in-home placement. In this case, they’re just putting one over on us.

    1. As long as “in-home placement” doesn’t include someone in the bathroom with me, it’s fine. And I had no idea they based the original sheet size on a man’s hand. I guess this thinking is similar to having airline pilots; most of the time they don’t have to do much, but when the s%$t hits the fan, you want to have back-up 🙂

No one is watching, I swear...

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