We have it good here in the U.S. We are a nation that literally has everything – all of our needs and way too many of our wants. Spend a little time abroad, and you will quickly find that the rest of the world knows what we have and what they don’t have.
For example, Americans have made an entire industry out of toilets and toilet accessories. We have big ones, tall ones, and loos of many colors. We have toilets that sing, toilets that wash, and toilets that clean themselves. The poo industry is big business in the U.S. Are we spoiled?
Toilet paper manufacturing in the U.S. alone generates an annual revenue of $16 billion! That’s a whole lot of squeezably soft squares. Research dollars go toward making toilet paper softer, stronger, and less likely to leave little dingleberries. More squares per roll, more rolls per pack, more packs on shelves.
Market studies (yes, there are people who make a living studying toilet paper markets) indicate that the average American consumes up to 85 rolls of toilet paper annually, but I feel certain that’s indicative of locations with people who have high-fiber diets.
Toilet paper is big doin’s in America. So again, are we spoiled?
But wait, it gets better. The makers of America’s rolled comfort have hit a new milestone. Just when you thought there was no other way that the makers of American lavatory’s pillow-soft-poo-rags-on-rolls could bring nothing else to bear on our bareness, the latest and greatest innovation has arrived!
Charmin recently announced it had cracked the code about what people really need in toilet paper. Press releases heralded the latest and greatest effort to ensure that Americans never have to worry about their poo paper being substandard: “Ultra Soft Smooth Tear Toilet Paper.”
I get the soft thing. Foreign travels have proven to me the worth of good old American toilet paper. I swear I don’t know how people in some countries can walk upright given the wax paper they stock in their boudoirs. But “ultra soft”? Are there really levels of softness? Can one move from soft to ultra-soft?
But the claim of “smooth tear” is what really got me. Apparently, it was hard to tear off squares from the average roll of TP before. (Which I find to be quite the indictment on American society.) Allegedly consumers were asking Charmin to invent some way to tear a square without a little tail left hanging from the roll. Thus, Proctor & Gamble, the makers of Charmin, are very proud of their latest invention, and rightfully so. “This is something the toilet paper category hasn’t seen, and we’ve spent more than five years perfecting the technology and design behind it,” Proctor & Gamble VP Rob Reinerman said. Five years! Five years spent deciding how best to come up with a square that tears off neatly.
“It’s the first time in a century that the brand has changed the shape of its tissue,” press reports said. “Charmin had been secretly letting customers test the new rolls.” (How did they get that gig, I wonder?) “The company says the top customer complaint over the years has been the uneven tears from the square shape.” Really? Actual complaints?
Just for fun, I announced this stunning advancement on a recent broadcast of Rightside Radio, only to have one of my listeners call to confirm that he was a paid participant in the Charmin focus group! Hailing from Decatur, Ala., he was paid $125.00 and given a two-week supply of the new wonder paper. He said that he had two goals in life: to have store-bought teeth and artificial hair. But dang if he didn’t also get paid to poo and let people know about it!
I must admit that I admire the fact that the private sector built a better mousetrap — or TP roll, rather — without government subsidies. That is exactly what the free market is designed to do. Poo paper just got better, and I hope that American citizens are better off for it.
But I also know that this first-world solution to this first-world problem is another clear indicator of the magic of where we live. We should never take for granted life in a country where the flip of a switch lights a room, where potholes in paved roads are not normal, and where we still have countless acres of natural beauty despite our urban growth.
In America, the average citizen has a car, live-streaming TV, a smartphone, and access to retail shopping that would blow the minds of much of the world. We have rights to assemble, to vote, to worship, to speak. We have the right to due process, to own land, and to schools where kids don’t sit on the floor. When we turn on the tap in our kitchens, we can expect clean water.
We are indeed a city on a hill and a beacon of hope. The rest of the world wants our first-world problems because first-world problems beat third-world solutions hands down.
Are we spoiled? Yes … but we’re also truly blessed.
We live in a nation where the average citizen can have toilet paper labeled as “ultra-soft smooth tear” … and that, my friends, is a nation worth defending.