At one point or another, we’ve all had this discussion: how are we supposed to put toilet paper on a roll? Which way is it supposed to hang, over or under? Well look no further, because we have your answer!
There is actually a technical, documented, correct way that one should hang their toilet paper on the roll: by using the “over” position. A debate as old as time (well, maybe not that long, but still well over one hundred year old) can finally be classified as ‘solved.’ The answer lies in a patent from 1891.
On September 15, 1891, Seth Wheeler officially became the ‘father’ of modern toilet paper, thanks to identifying the correct method in which to orient it. His patent no. 459,516 classifies that the “over” method is technically the correct way that toilet paper should be hung on a roll. Each of the six associated figures demonstrates this process.
An earlier version of his toilet paper design dates back to his 1887 patent, when toilet paper improvements were on the rise. The patent reads, “This improvement relates to a new article of manufacture, consisting of a roll of wrapping or toilet paper with parallel ends composed of polygonal or curved sheets, the sides of each sheet having edges of broken or curved lines.”
Needless to say, Seth Wheeler had a lot of time on his hands in the late 1800s. Aside from perfecting the orientation of toilet paper rolls, he also created patents and designs to help with their overall shape and design, the automation of dispensing new sheets, a flattened roll design, multi-roll holder, and even a device to perforate and create ornamental paper with diamond patterns for aesthetics.
Check out this link to the Google Patent page where you can see the full patent from 1891, complete with original figures and the actual patent proposal. And next time this debate comes up, you can argue your point with solid evidence; not to mention that it’s a great fun fact for dinner party conversation!