3-Play Toilet Paper

After decades suffering through a mere two plies, the toilet paper industry has finally come through for us:

If two-ply toilet paper is good, then three-ply tissue must be better. At least that’s what toilet-paper researchers in northeastern Wisconsin hope.

Yes, there is such a thing as a toilet-paper researcher. And a team of them at Georgia Pacific’s Innovation Institute in Neenah has come up with a three-ply version of its Quilted Northern product.

The new product will be launched Monday. The company touts the toilet tissue as “ultra-soft” and says it plans to market the product to women 45 and older who view their bathroom as a “sanctuary for quality time.”

I have no especial insights to offer here, nor even any particularly clever puns. I wonder, though, what the holdup has been.

Two-ply tissue has been available since, if Wikipedia is correct, before my parents were born. Contrast that to, say, the history of razors. The first twin blade razor, Gillette’s Trac II, was introduced in 1972. It was, if memory serves me correctly, the razor that I started shaving with ten years or so later. Since then, “shaving researchers” have come up with multiple innovations: lubricating strips, pivoting heads, razors that heat shaving cream, THREE blades, battery-powered vibrating heads, FOUR blades, and, yes, FIVE blades. Meanwhile, the toilet paper industry has been content to stagnate.

Surely, the idea of a third ply is not entirely novel. Indeed, it’s occurred to me on more than one occasion when, for example, adapting to new razor technology, I’ve needed the product as a patch for nicked skin (one of its many alternative uses).

So what, exactly, is it that ” toilet-paper researchers” have been doing since 1942?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. RW Rogers says:

    Sitting on their …?

  2. Grewgills says:

    Once again we are beaten out by the Finns. A friend in Helsinki was recently working on ads for a new brand of tp that has an 8-ply center they named the comfort zone. Many, many comfort zone jokes around the office.

  3. Bithead says:

    Oh, great. Two ply clogs the john every damn time. 3 ply, and I’ll have to put new pipes in.

    So what, exactly, is it that ” toilet-paper researchers” have been doing since 1942?

    Trying to figure out how that springy thing in the middle of the roll works.

  4. Floyd says:

    Why not? remember John Belushi’s “tripletrack razor commercial on SNL?
    “Because America…You’ll believe anything!!”

    Well they now have four blades for real!!

  5. John Burgess says:

    Those unwilling to wrestle with that springy thing have options without springs, you know.

    I think the TP researchers were afraid of getting sideways with tree huggers: Three-play = more dead trees. Who wants ELF storming your house when you’re simply trying to wipe your butt?

    I started shaving with a cut-throat razor. I’m now very happy with my 5-blade from Gillette.

  6. Tad says:

    So what, exactly, is it that ” toilet-paper researchers” have been doing since 1942?

    That must be the single most question that I don’t want to hear the answer to. But then I am fairly young yet…

  7. DL says:

    What have toilet paper researchers been doing? I suspect they have been sitting around a lot, folding things, you know. That is when they’re not doing their daytime jobs working at the State Dept.

  8. sam says:

    3-Play Toilet Paper

    That conjures up images that I’d just as soon not be conjured up.

  9. Bithead says:

    3 play?

    I see markets springing up for used toilet paper.
    VEry environmentally friendly, ya know…

  10. hln says:

    This is a real hassle for Sheryl Crow. She’ll have to split the sheets. And maybe President Obama will make the rest of us do it, too.

  11. Mithras says:

    So what, exactly, is it that ”toilet-paper researchers” have been doing since 1942?

    Just guessing, but probably running up against the fact that Americans are very slow to change the kind of toilet paper they use.

    The number of political comments in this thread is pretty interesting. ELF storming your house? Obama splitting sheets? Just shows where the conservative mind is.

  12. Dyre42 says:

    “So what, exactly, is it that toilet-paper researchers” have been doing since 1942?”

    Licking their wounds after the public refused to adopt their last invention; diaper wipes on a roll.

  13. Mark Jaquith says:

    So what, exactly, is it that ” toilet-paper researchers” have been doing since 1942?

    Adding “ripples” and “quilting.”

  14. Potty Mouth says:

    Well, they did calculate that the average use per potty visit is 5 sheets.