Thursday, March 27, 2008

Please don't squeeze this column

I wasn't digging for a story, just the cheapest toilet paper, but I stumbled across a story nonetheless. Today, yes, toilet paper is actually more interesting than the election.

When you see a product that says something like "25% less fat," the first thought that crosses your mind is usually "than what?" Bacon? Always good to know your fruit cocktail has 25% less fat than slices out of a pig's belly.

Of course they're all trying to fool you into buying their product but my critical eye had never fallen across the toilet paper aisle till I noticed something strange. The "double" rolls of toilet paper not only didn't have twice the amount of toilet paper in a regular roll, but in some cases actually contained LESS toilet paper than the regular rolls. Are they allowed to change the definition of the word "double" like this?

Charging more for pretending it's more while it's actually less is a time honored technique in the food biz. Just try to buy a "gallon" of ice cream. Anything "whipped" looks bigger but it's just air.
It turns out you can roll toilet paper tightly or loosely, just like lots of things. Roll it tightly and the roll feels hard. Roll it loosely and the roll feels softer, hypnotizing you into believing the paper itself must be softer. This was Charmin's idea - to wrap their toilet paper loosely so the roll itself felt softer - while Mr. Whipple told the world "Please don't squeeze the Charmin." Everyone went ahead and squeezed it, it felt squishy, and rather than coming to the conclusion "Hey, there's a lot less toilet paper in this roll," they came to the conclusion "Gorsh, this paper is s-o-f-t."

Then Charmin realized they could actually put twice as much paper on every roll and charge more for it. Then Charmin realized they only had to call it Ultra and SAY there was twice as much paper while actually using the same amount of paper as the non-Ultra paper and STILL charge more for it. Hint. Squeeze the fucking Charmin. If it's soft, it ain't twice the amount of a regular roll.

Gee, I hope they're exporting this technique to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, if you've got too much time on your hands, check out the product information the store puts on the shelves, the ones that give the price per square foot of toilet paper, and tell me people who believe product labels aren't getting less wipes per mile.


  1. Are you shittin' me?

    Remember, Mr. Whipple died, therefore he can't be held accountable.

    I had a girlfriend named Charmin, but I dumped her because she gave me too much shit.




    Phil Proctor