What is the first response to a news alert about an impending disaster, catastrophe, pandemic or an alien invasion? The numero uno course of action is to jump into cars, don running shoes, fire up devices and head to Cosco, Walmart, supermarkets, Amazon to participate in the toilet paper panic hording games. The origin of this bizarre phenomenon was the result of a joke that ran amuck in 1973. This was not unlike that famous radio broadcast of the reading of the War Of The Worlds when people freaked out thinking they were under an alien attack.
The situation in 1973 began with legitimate concerns that the country might experience a shortage of gas, electricity and onions (Yes, onions). A congressman issued a statement that there could be a shortage of T.P. After reading that statement, Johnny Carson, then the host of the Tonight show did an opening monologue about toilet paper. The snafu was people took him seriously and started to run out to stock up on toilet paper. The Hording Games were on! The higher levels of anxiety and panic, the greater the stockpiling. Those who were slower to react and found empty shelves, must have suffered a different kind of anxiety and panic.
Here we are almost 50 years later having repeated the same madcap behavior with the initial outbreak of Covid 19. Why am I writing about this? A recent poll asking people what they would do if learning aliens were visiting planet earth. The number one answer? You guessed it, stocking up on toilet paper. When I heard that, I went tumbling down a rabbit hole lined with Charmin, Cottonelle, Cascade, et al. I couldn’t help myself. I had to do a deep dive into the wild and wacky world of T.P. brands as well as the psychology of panic buying.
Here is what I learned in 25 words or more. According to psychology, panic buying is, in part, due to need for control. When everything around us is uncertain and chaotic, the tendency is to stockpile proportionately to the perceived disaster. Having assorted stockpiles seems to provide a semblance of control in an untenable situation.
Moving on. One final item. Did you ever wonder what the brand or type of T.P. is best for your bum and the plumbing? If you are like me, the answer is, no. During my research I stumbled upon that information. In another 25 words or more, here are 2 items on the researchers’ check list which determined top tissue. One, was the feel of the stuff on skin. Another important factor for plumbing longevity was how fast the T.P. disintegrated. The bottom line is Charmin Ultra Soft came out on top. You also cannot go wrong with T.P. made from recycled paper, It disintegrates the fastest. And, no worries, the recycled paper is not previously used toilet paper. Okay, now, I’m done. Go out and enjoy some retail therapy.
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