Adoption & Selection

During the 1870’s two rival paper manufacturing companies arose and competed with one another for a monopoly on the paper manufacturing industry. In 1872, John A. Kimberly, Havilah Babcock, Charles B. Clark, and Frank C. Shattuck formed Kimberly, Clark, and Co. in Neenah, Wisconsin as a paper manufacturing company. Shortly thereafter, in 1874, brothers E. Irvin and Clarence Scott and their cousins Thomas Seymour and Zerah Hoyt formed the Scott Paper Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (final agreement was not signed until 1879).[1]

Kimberly, Clark, and Co. became Kimberly & Clark Company in the 1880’s and became the dominant paper producer in the Midwest in 1886. Between the 1880’s and 1900’s both companies had fires that burned down major factories and setback their business and competition. Financially strapped, Scott Paper brought Irvin Scott’s son, Arthur Hoyt Scott, into the company in 1896. Arthur Hoyt Scott drastically changed the direction of the company in 1902 when he decided to have it manufacture its own brand of toilet paper—Waldorf named after the hotel chain. It became the best selling brand of toilet paper in the world.[2]

Kimberly-Clark and Scott Paper competed for the market for toilet paper and other paper products such as facial tissues and paper towels for the next ninety years. However, Scott Paper had far more success because of the brilliant advertising techniques it employed to reach its targeted American, and later world-wide, audience. In 1915, Scott adopted the slogan, “It’s the counted sheet that counts,” and introduced the advertising concept of selling toilet paper literally by the sheet. This changed the marketing strategy for the entire toilet paper industry as Scott became the first toilet paper company and gave Scott enough financial success to sell shares on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. By 1939, Scott was the largest selling brand of toilet paper in the United States. In the 1950’s, Scott continued its success within the toilet paper industry by becoming the first company to advertise toilet paper on national television.[3]

Despite Scott’s earlier success, Kimberly-Clark continued to thrive through the facial tissue and diaper industries and bought Scott Paper Company in 1995 for $9.4 billion dollars. Scott’s products retain their original name although Kimberly-Clark now owns the company.[4]

The Bidet: An Alternate Technology

The origin of the bidet is unknown. However, the etymology of the word bidet dates to 1534 and refers to a donkey or horse. By the 1700’s, the word became associated with cleaning one’s bottom possibly because one straddles the bidet like one would ride a donkey or horse.[5] Early bidets were small tubs resting on pedestals. However, later technological development added running water and a drain to the bottom of the toilet-like device.[6]

A Bathroom with a Bidet, a Toilet and Toilet Paper

A Bathroom with a Bidet, a Toilet and Toilet Paper

The bidet became overwhelmingly popular in Europe, Latin America, parts of Asia, and the Arab world as a technological advancement and compliment to toilet paper.[7] Yet Americans rejected the bidet as an alternate technology to toilet paper because of the misconception on the part of American and British troops during World War I that bidets were used specifically for cleansing one’s genitals after sex and was therefore a product of French immorality.[8]

Today, many bathrooms worldwide have both a toilet and a bidet with toilet paper present to aid in the cleaning process. In 1980, Japan introduced the combination toilet-bidet. Japanese technological innovations to the combination toilet-bidet include a heated seat, water sensors, music playing during one’s use, automatic deodorizing, and automatic lid rinsing when one approaches the seat.[9]


[1] “Kimberly-Clark,” http://www.kimberly-clark.com/aboutus/history.aspx (accessed February 9, 2009).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Horan, Julie L., The Porcelain God: A Social History of the Toilet (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group, 1996), 71.

[6] Spinrad, Paul, The RE/Search Guide to Bodily Fluids (San Francisco: RE/Search Publications, 1994), 21.

[7] Ibid., 21.

[8] Horan, 72; Spinrad, 21.

[9] Horan, 120-121.

First image “Bidet,” Trendliest Files, http://trendliest.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/bidet.jpg (accessed January 24, 2009).

Second image “Japanese Toilet Bidet,” Asahikawa grand hotel in Asahikawa, Japan, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/JapaneseToiletBidet.jpg (accessed January 24, 2009).

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