Fun Fact Friday: Toilet Paper Orientation

US465588-0Did you know that there’s finally a definitive answer to the long debated question of toilet paper orientation, as to whether it should go over or under? It’s true!

Recently rediscovered, the 1891 patent tells the tale. In the patent drawing, sketched by toilet paper roll inventor Seth Wheeler, it is illustrated that the answer is definitely “over”. No explanation is given for this particular orientation, so one can only speculate as to the reasoning behind it, but it certainly adds a certain weight to the arguments of those who fall on the “over” side of the issue!

As you might imagine, this knowledge does nothing to silence the debate about which orientation is better, but it does solve the mystery surrounding which way is technically correct! Now “over” enthusiasts have one additional argument for their side that is hard to refute: “That’s how it’s mean to be!”

Want to learn about bathroom science? Check out Stuff Happens with Bill Nye: Bathroom on Discovery Education Streaming!


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  1. Porter Starr Byrd said:

    The mystery remains unsolved. While the illustration of the patent, which postdates the invention of toilet paper, shows the roll in the position you describe (and which I prefer). it has nothing to do with installation. It is for a new type of perforation that makes it easier to separate the sheets.

    I will still abuse anyone who puts the roll in the other position in my bathrooms.

  2. Johnny BeGood said:

    In terms of dexterity think of how much easier, how much terribly easier, it is to tear a perforated sheet of paper off of a hanging roll in the position shown as opposed to it hanging against a wall. With this consideration in mind, I do not think it’s a mistake that the new perforation patent shows the roll in the logically correct direction.

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