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TP Shortage of 1973

The following story was taken from the web site:

Tuesday, April 07, 2009
The Toilet Paper Shortage of 1973
Sometime in 1975 or so, I remember going to my grandparents house and seeing so much toilet paper in a closet in the spare bedroom. There were rolls and rolls of one type of toilet paper. Years later, I saw less and less of the toilet paper, and I just assumed they got a great deal on TP.

Until today.

I was fairly young in the early 70s, so I don't know what was going on politically. Nixon tapes? Had not a clue? The stock market stagnation? Had nothing to do with my drowsy doll.

I sort of remember the gas crunch in the late 70s, when we would all pile in the car on different days and sit in line for gasoline. But I did not really understand what was going on.

There was a toilet paper shortage in the United States in 1973. No, I did not say Russia. The good old U S of A.

This toiler paper shortage started with a Johnny Carson Tonight Show monologue. On December 19, 1973, the writers for the show had heard earlier the federal government was falling behind in getting bids to supply toilet paper and that it might be possible that in a few months the United States could face a shortage of toilet tissue. They took the words of this Wisconsin congressional representative, Harold Froehlich and decided to add a joke for Carson for the evening show.

Carson did in fact use the joke in a monologue stating, "You know what's disappearing from the supermarket shelves? Toilet paper. There's an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States."

Twenty million people that watched the Carson show that evening ran out in the morning and bought as much toilet paper as they could carry. My grandparents must have been among those who started hoarding the stuff (thus their very large supply of toilet paper for many years). By noon on December 20, 1973, practically every store in America was out of stock. Many of the stores tried to ration this valuable paper but they could not keep up with the demand no matter what they did.

A few nights later, Johnny Carson explained there was no shortage and he apologized to his viewers. However, this did not help with the scare. As soon as people noticed the empty shelves, they wanted this paper even more. It took three weeks to get the shelves stocked again, ending the shortage caused by a joke in Johnny Carson's monologue.

Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center, Inc.

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