Don’t worry: 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.



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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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...

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

    1. Ha! That commercial always makes me think of an old joke, where a bear and rabbit are pooping in the woods. The bear asks, “Do you ever have a problem with it sticking to your fur?” The rabbit says, “No.” So the bear grabs the rabbit and wipes his butt with him…

        1. I’d like to think so; we need more toilet paper activists in the world. Not to be confused with the butt wipes — those are generally found in the Washington D.C. area.

  1. I cannot trust anyone these days. First the toilet paper then the size of the toilet itself. Don’t think it won’t happen. Just look at the Hersey bar . . .er maybe an unfortuate example in this context.

  2. Nicely done, Ned. Just the chuckle I needed after eating lunch.

    As for the extensive testing, I can say that a number of years ago, I was shopping with my kids at the local mall, and was approached by a survey lady who handed me a roll of toilet paper along with a questionnaire to be filled out and mailed in. I don’t recall what the survey questions were (and even if I did, you probably wouldn’t want to know), but I’m pretty sure “preferred size of sheet” was not one of them. At least I wasn’t asked to test the product then and there!

  3. I buy Scott and I’m proud of it. Sure, it feels like sandpaper on your butt (I think of it as exfoliation), but it’s the only TP that A) you don’t have to change/replace every half hour, and B) doesn’t interfere with my older home’s plumbing (I have small children and a husband). Hell, if I can’t wear skinny jeans I can at least use skinny TP.

  4. I thought for SURE, this article would contain that little nugget I saw on your Instagram page. Something about an almond roll and a cat??
    I’ve been off social media for several days and your picture was waiting for me when I returned. I knew you must be doing some deep investigative work.
    Wait…I don’t think that’s what I meant.

    (I hope you are having a great week!!)

    1. Suffice it to say, Scott TP isn’t going to be able to handle anything that looks like that. ..

      And I hope your week is going especially great, too! Welcome back 😉

  5. Oh, I do love a ninja roll, I do!… Shrinking toilet paper… not so much! Those ‘cheeky’ buggers, always under selling us paying costumers! And is it me, or does EVERYTHING seem to be getting smaller these days?

  6. My husband has been decrying my purchasing of Scott TP for years. I need to just ninja roll myself to Costco and go with the Kirkland. Thank you for your research and for being friends with Derf.

      1. With the amount of curry we consume here…well we have put the tp to the test. But seriously, the lint flying off the tp is annoying when the bear says, it won’t leave any on your ass.

  7. I’m sure you’ve heard this “little nugget” before:
    Person A: Hey, do you know the difference between toilet paper and a shower curtain?
    Person B: Umm, nooo?
    Person A: Oh, so you’re the one!

  8. I think I follow their logic Ned. I mean (this part will be in metric- but will be understandable [ 1 kg = 2.2 pounds]) my 1kg jar of Cheeze Whiz is now 900 grams, the 500 gram bacon is now 375 grams, the 120 gram tuna can is now 100 grams, bread on special is 450 grams vs the normal 654 grams, and so on. It only stands to reason that if we are putting less in, then less will come out and the toilet paper need not be as large/ Right?

    And the best part is that they are charging me the same for all those lower weight products. This should cause me to eat less and lose weight and become healthier – Right?

    Oh, on the topic of TP, have you noticed that the latest is now the “Double Roll” – a real time and space saver? Mind you their math seems somewhat suspect. A regular roll typically has about 130 sheets. Each manufacturer has a different number of sheets on their double rolls – anywhere from 180 to 250 sheets – none of them actually a “double” roll and some less than 1 1/2 rolls. But the prices are all double.

    That being said , it is completely logical, and no doubt in our best interests (NOT) that our toilet paper will be reduced in size. I’m sure they’ll also change their animal rep from a bear to something more economical , like a beaver (smaller ass). 😀

      1. That really was the corner stone of the argument, wasn’t it? I saw that and intuitively put it first. I’ve been reading your Friday writing column Ned.

  9. Actually, “Ninja roll” would make sense as a name for smaller toilet paper. It’s probably easier to tuck into your Ninja . . .uh, whatever Ninjas wear*. . . .for traveling.

    *I considered looking that up on the Internet, but I didn’t want to take my chances on what I might see.

    1. Hahahaha! I think the term “ninja roll” has evolved over the centuries from meaning a “stealth Japanese assassin” to “a belly roll hidden from sight.”

  10. i have to wonder where that focus group met to conduct this research. do you wonder if maybe they just told some of them their paper was one inch smaller to see if there was a placebo effect?

  11. Mr. Whipple better squeeze all he can before the shrinkage trend gets to his own brand of softness. I just love your sleeping editor line. Oh! And the “should not be held up to a mirror” one too. LOL! Better copyright those. 😉

    Notice how the favorite parts I cite have nothing to do with your topic. That’s because I find bathroom humor to be particularly draining and am all for its elimination.

  12. Hahaha! I think it’s safe to say, you don’t go looking for stories related to poop *on purpose*, they kinda just find you. And I mean *just* you! Ugh, hate having to use those little star thingies (I know it’s called an asterisk but I don’t like how the word has risk in it) because I can’t use italics!

  13. “ in the face of our nation’s widening bottoms.” Seriously. Haha! Great post. I simply had no idea. (I too am amazed at the randomness word searches result in Google.)

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