Did you know that toilet paper has been around since 589 AD? According to Wikipedia, there have been documents written that include talk about the use of paper for toilet purposes.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) a Muslim traveler made this remark,
"They (the Chinese) are not careful about cleanliness, and they do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities; but they only wipe themselves with paper."
The first rolls of toilet paper and dispensers that we know of today were invented by Seth Wheeler of Albany, NY in 1871. He was granted several patents for the actual roll and the dispensers that accompanied them. He sold the product under the name of the "Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Co."
From Wikipedia :
"It is sold "by all the leading druggists" and is not medicated. It is marketed as being free of "all deleterious substances" which includes printed materials and chemicals "incident to the ordinary process of manufacture (which is) a cause of hemorrhoids." In addition, medicated toilet paper which is "heavily charged with ointment" was offered for "sufferers of hemorrhoids."
From there, toilet paper has evolved. Today, it comes in various forms : Quilted, containing Aloe, "Earth Friendly", and so on. You used to only be able to buy it at a drug store, but now it is practically everywhere.
The advertising of toilet paper has also evolved. Mr. Whipple taught us in a 1970's commercial to "Not squeeze the Charmin." Charmin is teaching us today that there are 2 different types of toilet roll for your needs, as demonstrated by cartoon bears. I wonder which one sold more rolls?
And just in case you go to another country, here are some common names for toilet paper : toilet roll (UK), TP (US Slang), Loo Roll (UK), Dunny Roll (unknown).
Now you can go and impress your friends with your new knowledge about toilet paper! :)
Photo Credit : Chris73 via Wikimedia. This is a picture of Ancient Japanese toilet paper. They were sticks found from a stream. Aren't we lucky that these have evolved?