Original Patent For Perforated Toilet Paper On A Roll Solves Over Vs. Under Debate Once And For All

After pitting loved ones and enemies alike against each other for what feels like all of human existence, it seems we may finally have a definitive winner in the “over vs. under” toilet paper draping debate.

Though there are still likely to be those who remain loyal to the “under” side of the line, as writer Owen Williams points out on Twitter, Seth Wheeler’s original patent for his perforated toilet paper invention in 1891 shows the paper in an “over” position, indicating that that is how it’s meant to be used.

Indeed, another drawing from the Google patents database shows the paper on the outside of the roll as well:

Wheeler’s Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company was the first in the world to make perforated toilet paper, originally patenting that idea in 1871 (PDF) before the 1891 patent added the roll aspect.

And it seems even back then, Wheeler knew people would be prone to using too much paper in the john.

“In carrying out my invention the sheets of paper are only partially separated, having their points of attachment arranged in a novel manner, whereby each sheet will easily separate from the series as it is drawn from the roll, there being no litter occasioned, and any waste of paper is thereby prevented,” he wrote in the patent.

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    Over is more convenient for the person using it, but when you have very young children or pets in the house that might find it entertaining to pull at the end of the roll or slap at the roll to spin it, under is less likely to create a mess.

  2. richardhuffman says:

    I have always been confused as to how this is even a “debate”. I mean of course the TP should go “over the top and hang down”, and not on the back side. Hanging down it the way you are almost guaranteed to grab just the toilet paper and not touch the wall etc.

    The other comment by singlemaltgeek definitely makes sense in situations with kids and pets, but for all others, I can’t quite believe people would have it any other way than over the top.

    (as for me though, I love Costco’s Kirkland brand moistened flushable towelettes; thought it’s pretty clear that they are responsible for clogging the hell out of various sewer systems. Once I accidentally washed a (clean) one with my laundry. Somehow this “flushable” thing, designed to break up in water, made it all the way through the heavy duty cycle of my washing machine as well as my dryer unscathed).