Toilet Tissue Illness

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Scott Tissues ran an advertising campaign that sought to convince the American public that there was such a thing as 'Toilet Tissue Illness,' and that it was one of the great public health crises of the time. Toilet Tissue Illness was caused by using cheap toilet paper. It could lead to serious complications, possibly requiring rectal surgery to fix. So the ads suggested.

The most notorious ad in the campaign was the 'black glove' ad below.

Here's some background info about the Scott Tissue campaign from Richard Smyth's Bum Fodder: An Absorbing History of Toilet Paper:

The image is stark: a clinically white sheet, an array of gleaming surgical instruments, and a hand, clad in a glove of thick black rubber. 'Often the only relief from toilet tissue illness,' the slogan reads (managing to suggest that 'toilet tissue illness' is a recognised medical condition). Consumers who managed to get past the photo and slogan without dropping everything and running for the high hills were then subjected to another lecture from the haemorrhoid-fixated Scott ad-men. It's the usual litany: 'Astonishing percentage of rectal cases ... traceable to inferior toilet paper ... protect your family's health ... eliminate a needless risk.' The words are so much prattle — but the image of the black rubber glove lingers in the mind. Following criticism from the American Medical Association, Scott eventually back-tracked on its doom-laden claims — but pledged to undertake trials in order to prove beyond dispute that 'improperly made toilet tissue is a menace to health'.

And a few of the other ads featured in the campaign:

     Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 20, 2017
     Category: Health | Advertising | 1920s | 1930s

The big selling point at one time was 'Splinter Free\ tissue!
Posted by BMN on 07/20/17 at 07:41 AM
It could be worse. You could be out hiking in the California Sierra Nevada mountains and mistakenly use a few leaves of Toxicodendron diversilobum to take care of your post-elimination needs. You would only do it once, though.
Posted by KDP on 07/20/17 at 07:59 AM
For many consumers, toilet paper was still a new innovation. Some folks used whatever paper they had on hand to "clean up," including pages from old catalogs and phone books. So for many people, "toilet tissue illness" was probably very real.
Posted by Brian on 07/20/17 at 02:18 PM
@KDP, we once hosted a couple from Germany as part of a local Firefighter Exchange program. Some of the activities included hikes in the Shasta-Trinity forests. We had to make doubly sure that all of our visitors were given very complete instruction on avoiding that plant should the need arise, or even just while walking about.
As far as advertising goes, this campaign is only another one taking the "snake oil" medicine claims of curing anything and everything. Just maybe a little darker.
Posted by Steve E. on 07/20/17 at 05:51 PM
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