My New Years resolution is to only write serious columns about important topics. So today Im writing about the incredible, shrinking toilet-paper roll.
About two months ago I started suspecting our toilet-paper rolls were narrower. They dont cover as much of the roller as they used to. Theyre like a mans pants leg that hikes up and reveals his lower leg when he sits down and crosses one leg over the other.
I couldnt confirm this suspicion until I remembered the partial roll of toilet paper we had stashed in our cars glove compartment. (You cant always trust highway rest stops to be properly supplied.)
I measured that older roll and found it 41⁄2 inches long. But our new toilet-paper rolls measure just 4 inches. My suspicions were confirmed.
I found further confirmation in the new Consumer Reports magazine that arrived Monday. Inside its back cover it has goofs, glitches and gotchas. Among them was a picture of the toilet paper we buy, Quilted Northern. The headline said, Short sheeted.
A reader had written that she had noticed its rolls were narrower. The article also added that each roll now contains fewer sheets 286 instead of 300.
Consumer Reports contacted the manufacturer, Georgia Pacific. Its spokesman blamed the shorter rolls on the cost factor in todays economy and said the shrinkage prevented a price hike.
It sounds to me like they wanted to charge the same price for less paper and hoped we wouldnt notice.
Sure, the sheet size is printed on the outside of each package of rolls. But its in smaller, less conspicuous letters than the ones saying 12 double rolls = 24 regular rolls.
And whos going to stand in a supermarket and decipher dimension information like this: 12ROLLS/ROLLOS-381.3 SQ FT/PIES2 (35.4m2) or 4 IN/PULG x 4 IN/PULG.
Theres no standard size for toilet paper. I checked three other brands in a market. One brands sheets measured 4.5 by 4 inches, another 4.2 by 4 inches and the third 4.5 by 3.7 inches.
Its impossible to be a prudent toilet-paper buyer. It doesnt come in standard sizes, like eggs do. And the manufacturers obscure, obfuscate and complicate. We cant readily compare prices and values. Thus the free-market system is thwarted.
Quilted Northern isnt especially villainous. I just know more about it because its the brand we buy and find otherwise satisfactory.
I could also mention Charmin. I think its TV ads, showing the little bear with toilet paper stuck to his rear end, are tasteless.
But at least theyve answered the age-old question: Do bears use toilet paper in the woods?
Contact Phil Dirkx at email@example.com or 238-2372.