I thought I'd seen every infomercial on the airwaves until Slate's Seth Stevenson set me straight with his Brow Beat blog post "Don't Believe the Wipe." His reportage concerns Comfort Wipe, "an 18-inch plastic stick to which you may attach a clump of toilet paper, thus easing the arduous task of wiping your bottom."
Before picking out the "performances" displayed in the ad, Stevenson questions the claim that the product represents "the first improvement to toilet paper as we know it since the 1880s." That sounded dubious, so he consulted the "invaluable" Toilet Paper Encyclopedia, which tells how the first packaged bathroom tissue was introduced in the U.S. by Joseph Gayetty in 1857. Scott Paper Co. introduced the next major breakthrough by putting toilet paper on a roll in 1890.
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Not only is it unclear what kind of shit happened in the 1880s to spur the Comfort Wipe claim, but the ad totally ignores the turn-of-the-millennium advent of wet toilet paper. As Stevenson matter-of-factly puts it, "Pre-dampened bumwad was a brilliant innovation, as these things go." That deserves an "amen" from painful rectal itch sufferers everywhere.