Our soft yet absorbent colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports have great things to say about Walmart’s house-brand toilet papers, but maybe that’s because horizontal width isn’t a factor in their scoring. Reader Andrew sent along these photos comparing his previous and current packages of TP from Wally World, and found that a barely perceptible size decrease adds up to 30 fewer square feet per package of 18 rolls.
“It appears WalMart is joining the narrow toilet paper parade,” writes Andrew, describing what must be either the most or the least fun parade ever. “Their ‘White Cloud 2-Ply Comfort’ has shrunk from 4.2″ to 3.9″ wide. The total square footage is down about 7.25%. The packaging is identical, down to the bar-code. The only difference I could see was an ‘M’ next to the bar-code box and the new size numbers.”
Companies always have excuses for this, of course: they’ll explain that the paper is now more absorbent or tougher so you don’t need to use as much. That makes sense, but it’s still hard not to feel a little short-sheeted.
Andrew asks one interesting question, though. “Would you have any info on how wide a roll of TP originally was?” he asked us.
Rolls of toilet paper as we know them today were invented in the 1880s; early marketing bragged that the finer tissue prevented hemorrhoids and was better for indoor plumbing than American anal-cleansing standbys like Sears Roebuck catalogs and corncobs. The Virtual Toilet Paper Museum, which is totally a thing, has many examples of vintage tissue, but doesn’t provide measurements.