Empty Toilet Paper Roll

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 1973

For those of us who are fans of late night TV and are old enough to remember our favorite host Johnny Carson. You probably remember the King of late night for his hilarious antics and sarcastic comments on anything from politics to sports. What you may not remember is how he caused “The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 1973.”

Times were tough in 1973 with the crash of the stock market and an Arab oil embargo that led to inflated oil and gas prices. The shortage of electricity, gasoline, and even onions, was the beginning of a crisis for the American public. For some of us, Johnny Carson lifted our spirits in these trying times with his playful pranks and his signature late night monologue.

However, things only got worse when Carson joked that there was a toilet paper shortage in the country. Inspired by a government press release stating they had failed to secure bids for toilet paper for the American troops, Carson’s writers included the toilet paper topic in his monologue. The infamous line in his December 1973 monologue was “There is an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States.”

Unfortunately, the 20 million views took Carson very seriously. By noon the following day most supermarkets across the county were completely out of toilet paper; their shelves were bare. While many of the supermarkets tried to ration their supply of toilet paper, it was too, late the damage was done. What started off as a harmless joke, evolved into the great toilet paper shortage of 1973! So in the end, there really was a toilet paper shortage.

Carson apologized to the Nation hoping to squelch the panic, to no avail. He tried to calm the county but the chaos was too great. The panic and subsequent shortage continued for a full three months. In an effort to squash the rumor, manufactures of toilet paper aired footage of their facilities in full production. But the shelves remained bare and the frenzy continued for several months, as the public wouldn’t believe that the whole thing was simply a joke. The turmoil finally subsided in February of 1974 when toilet paper was readily available once again.

The moral of the story is you better prepare for the next comedic crisis. You have two choices either stockpile toilet paper in your pantry or install a Spaloo Bidet so you won’t be caught short when the next Great Toilet Paper Shortage hits America.