The Amazing, Mystical, Magical, Disappearing Toilet Paper

When Sandy and I shop at the grocery store, I tend to pay attention to price and package size.  Buy one, get one free doesn’t get my attention unless it’s for something we normally use a lot, like breakfast cereal, for example.  I notice that BOGOs don’t usually show up in departments like meat, dairy, eggs, and produce.  Cereal, cookies, and sometimes coffee, can save us cash if they are BOGO.  But I don’t see taking home two of something when I only wanted one.

Of course, prices on everything are constantly changing.  I look at the price on a can of vegetables and say, “Geez, wasn’t that a dollar cheaper last time we were here?”  But the most aggravating thing companies do is to shrink the size of their products.

I remember, several years ago, I picked up a can of spinach, that was normally fifteen ounces and change, and thought, “This feels small.  What did they do to the can?”  I looked and discovered that the can now contained thirteen and a half ounces.  But the price didn’t fall to match the shrinkage in the contents.  It’s just their way of getting more money for their product without our realizing it.  It was that way all across the board, as far as canned vegetables were concerned.

It hasn’t stopped in these days, either.  Sandy and I go through a lot of orange juice.  We normally buy a premium brand because it tastes better than the grocery store generic.  But a year or so ago they started putting the juice into bottles that looked like pitchers, and–surprise! surprise!–they don’t hold a gallon of OJ.  They only hold three and a fraction quarts.  And they keep getting smaller.  To get around the shrinking gallon bottle, we buy cardboard cartons that used to be half a gallon.  But the last time I looked, they were 1.8 quarts, or 1.75 liters.  And of course they still cost as much as, or more than, before.  So the companies are trying to make more money from us while hoping we won’t notice.

Ha!

But the thing that has irked me the most about package size is that of toilet paper.  The brand we use that started out as White Cloud many years ago advertises that it is the softest there is.  It used to come on single rolls of around 140 double-ply sheets.  Then the company, like other TP companies, introduced the double-size roll.  Adustments in roll length came and went; the company introduced other sizes, and finally things stabilized thus:

  • Single rolls at 100 sheets
  • Double rolls at 200 sheets
  • Giant rolls at 250 sheets
  • Mega rolls at 400 sheets.

Even so, you can see what is happening.  The mega-sized rolls required an adaptor, because they were so big they wouldn’t fit a standard toilet paper dispenser.  This state of affairs continued for a number of years, until. . .

The package for the mega size rolls trumpeted, “Roll-Fit Guarantee!  Mega rolls are guaranteed to fit standard dispensers!”  We bought a package sometime after that to try out, and–son of a gun!–they did fit.  Now, there are only three ways the manufacturer could have used to make the oversized mega roll fit a standard dispenser.  First, they could have made the paper thinner.  But then it would no longer be “ultra soft.”  Second, they could have used a smaller core; but obviously the cores were the same size as before, and I doubt that it would have made enough difference.  And third, they could have made the roll shorter.  In fact, that is just what they did.  The new mega roll size was 328 sheets, 18% shorter than before.  The new double size roll was 164 sheets, again 18% shorter than before.  This made the double size roll not very much bigger than the original single size.  Now, of course, the single sizes were not available, 84 sheets being obviously small, and the giant size had also vanished from store shelves, although I have seen a “family size” that had a strange sheet count.  And the price keeps going up.  In fact, it’s gone up a lot since then.  With the cost of energy down a lot since last year, I wonder why?  What excuse, other than trying to make as much money as possible from their customers, would this company, and others in like situations, give?  Our incomes haven’t gone up nearly as much as the cost of toilet paper.  I, for one, am tired of being picked up and shaken to see what will fall out of my pockets.  People will decide they can’t afford to buy such expensive stuff and will stop buying it

Then what?

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