If you could thank anyone, who would you thank and why?
That would be a very long list of family, founding fathers, entrepreneurs, and managers that led me to where I am today. From my German immigrant ancestors, the writers of the Constitution, computer hardware and software pioneers to those people that gave me a chance and trusted I would deliver. But I give the nod to the question posed to Joseph Gayetty of New York and his 1857 introduction of a product I’m so thankful I don’t live without.
The 2020 pandemic caused panic buying of everything from cans of Spam to packets of yeast to lots of paper products. It made everyone step back for a minute and decide what they could not live without. While Spam is not considered by many, except myself and the entire state of Hawai’i, a delicacy, it’s shelf-stable for 3-5 years. I wonder who has hundreds of cans they now regret buying. Why yeast was gone is a mystery; it’s not like most people bake bread all that often. Maybe the thought was you could make your own pizza dough and avoid contact with an infected delivery driver. Paper products make sense, particularly toilet paper, for obvious reasons, and maybe tissues for blowing all the feared COVID snot from your nose. Stocking up on paper towels, while I use them quite a bit, should have been a lower priority, but those were scarce also. Maybe a poorer substitute for TP? Trying to figure out how people think (or don’t) is not terribly useful in the grand scheme of life.
Back to Mr. Gayetty. He is credited with introducing the aforementioned toilet paper to America. You can read up on all the ways we cleansed ourselves before then, but none of them are in any way appealing. Perhaps the best and most common dual-purpose idea was the Farmers’ Almanac, which for over one hundred years, was used for both reading and wiping. Readers would punch holes in the corner of the publication so it could be hung next to the “throne”. In 1919, the publishers began punching a hole in the upper-left-hand corner to help out.
Like many of the world’s greatest inventions, it took time to get it right. Gayetty’s sheets would take thirty-three more years to become the now-familiar perforated rolls and another forty years after that before they were manufactured without any splinters. Yikes!
Thank you, Joseph Garrity, for the most indispensable product in my life.