Deep thoughts (and photos) by M. Scott Smith

From the Less Mature Files: Toilet Paper Prices Skyrocket 🔗

As an undergraduate at Drexel University in the mid-90's, I served as a columnist, contributing weekly bits of satire in an effort to amuse others or at least myself. I'm dusting off some of those columns and reprinting them here, in raw, unedited form.

This entry was written in 1996, in the midst of a Presidential election while gas prices began to shoot upwards. (Hmm.. This is starting to sound familiar.) I decided to poke some fun at the situation. Some readers did not "get" the parallel between toilet paper and gas -- at least one person genuinely expressed surprise that toilet paper prices were rising and did not understand why. (This person is now designing buildings. Just so you know.)

The spoof article quotes Brian and Neil -- both are good friends of mine from college. Brian was my roommate at one point, and became a regular fountain of quotes in my (serious) articles and (not-so-serious) columns. "I think that would be a good idea," became a regular quote from Brian for many years, until the Editors finally caught on.

One other note about this column. Around the time that it was published, AOL was launching a new on-line comedy section to their service to showcase satire. I was encouraged to submit the column for some possible freelance money, as it was topical satire. I did, and eventually heard back from one of AOL's editors. They said that they felt the column was too "dirty" to publish on their family-oriented site. This took me by surprise as I thought the column was good, clean satire, and I concluded their humor editor lacked a sense of humor.

For some really, really bad puns, continue reading below..

Over the past couple months, the average price of toilet paper has risen 30 cents per roll. Citizens across the United States are distressed by the sudden price increase, and politicians have begun to center their campaigns on the high price.

Toilet paper is at its highest price since the Desert Storm war, when it was used by the military to camoflauge tanks.

The government is now trying to determine what caused toilet paper prices to rise so dramatically in such a short time.

A Charmin representative stated that prices have risen due to a marked increase in demand, along with increased government regulations on the quality of toilet paper.

"New government regulations require us to ensure that pieces of barbed wire aren't inadvertently placed in our toilet paper," said the representative. "We've had to retrofit our equipment in order to comply with these new regulations," she added.

Many people are wondering how the increased price in toilet paper will affect the summer travel season, which generally peaks as a time of high toilet paper usage.

"So far, people still seem to be using toilet paper," said one market analyst. "It's interesting, because unlike the big toilet paper scare in the 70's, you don't see people sharing toilet paper yet," said the analyst.

It's not clear yet whether it will be necessary to place limitations on the number of rolls of toilet paper that can be bought.

Some Drexel students, discouraged by the price increase, have cut down on their toilet paper usage.

"I haven't used toilet paper in over a week," said computer science major Neil Shah. "It got so expensive I had to wipe it out of my budget."

Presidential candidate Bob Dole has been aggressively campaigning to have the "Clinton toilet paper tax" repealed in an effort to decrease prices somewhat.

"No more T.P. Tax!" yelled a visibly-upset Dole to supporters at a rally in the toilet paper aisle of a suburban grocery store before becoming disoriented and being led away by Secret Service agents.

"I think it would be a good idea," said architectural engineering major Brian Preston, when asked about the prospects of removing the 6-cent-per-roll tax currently levied on toilet paper.

But President Clinton was quick to point out that Bob Dole has supported several toilet paper taxes throughout his tenure in Congress.

"He can't flush that undeniable fact away," said Clinton.

In hopes of lowering prices, Clinton has decided to release several million rolls of toilet paper that have been stockpiled by the government. Unfortunately, these rolls were stockpiled too high, and the whole thing collapsed when someone tried removing a few rolls, critically injuring several civil servants.

In a related story, unemployment figures for the month of May are expected to reach an all-time low as a result of the government hiring several thousand workers to re-stack the toilet paper stockpile.

The increased cost of toilet paper has had a rippling effect throughout the economy. For example, several Mexican restaurants have reported seeing a marked decrease in visitors, as customers try to avoid situations that would put them in a position of using a lot of toilet paper.

"Sales of burritos are way down," reflected a somber Ricardo Rivera, a part-owner of a Mexican restaurant chain in the southwest. "I can't remember sales ever stinking this bad. We've got a huge surplus of enchiladas."

- By M. Scott Smith, May 5, 1996. All rights reserved.

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