Don't Believe the Wipe

Don't Believe the Wipe

Don't Believe the Wipe

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
June 12 2009 2:00 PM

Don't Believe the Wipe

Behold the 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. I'm sure this product serves a vital purpose for some, and, hey, that's wonderful. I'd just like to make a couple of comments about the ad:

First, I think we could have done without the testimonials. Anyone who would actually benefit from use of this product will immediately recognize its utility. No need for a series of fecal narratives from "ordinary" people. And I'd prefer not to ponder the precise physics implied by the fat dude when he says, "Being a big guy certainly has its advantages and disadvantages. This is a great product." (Likewise, the older woman seems disproportionately jazzed about her newfound wiping freedom. I swear she's on the precipice of winking at us.)

Second, the ad claims that the Comfort Wipe is "the first improvement to toilet paper as we know it since the 1880s." I'm not sure what they mean by this. According to the invaluable Toilet Paper Encyclopedia , packaged bathroom tissue was introduced in the United States by Joseph Gayetty in 1857. The next major breakthrough came in 1890, when the Scott Paper Company put TP in roll form.

Anyway, and more distressingly: Comfort Wipe's assertion completely ignores the advent of " wet toilet paper " around the turn of the millennium. Have we already forgotten Charmin Fresh Mates and Cottonelle Fresh Flushable Moist Wipes ? Pre-dampened bumwad was a brilliant innovation, as these things go—even if consumers have been slow to catch on .