Words For Your Enjoyment: Toilet Paper Packaging

I was here last Friday, here the week before that and here the week before that. And each and every one has contained what the people-behind-the-scenes here at WFME call “Words For Your Enjoyment!”

This weeks column idea comes from Reluctant Writer who said: “For a long time, we’ve had a policy at our house never to buy toilet paper with pictures of babies or puppies on the package. This policy has become impossible to enforce and still have TP at home. All the packages these days have either babies or puppies! Babies kind of fit on TP packages, I suppose, but puppies!?! Why puppies? What do they have to do with TP? Why not photos of green, green grass or flowers or plumbing?”

Well my friend – I will tell you exactly why it is that toilet paper companies include the images that they do on their packaging.

Whether or not you know it, while I was getting clearance to print all the letters in my book Consumer Joe I had to deal with certain toilet paper companies like Charmin and had the opportunity to ask them why they use the images that they do on their products. Many of the toilet-paper companies use images of babies, teddy bears, puppies and daisies (as opposed to paper towel companies who use lumberjacks and scrubbing bubbles with real eyes and retinas).

And so I posed the question, “Why do you use babies and teddy bears and puppies and daisies on your packaging?”

And they answered, “Sir, do you have a real question to ask us, or shall we just hang up now?”

And so I pressed on with my own hypothesis.

Here’s the real breakdown:

Babies: Babies are soft. Babies often crap their pants and require you to pick up something to clean up their mess. Babies are squishy and people love to touch them. Babies are the kind of little human being you love to have around the house. Babies, in general, make you feel like you’re alive. Much in the same way you feel alive while wiping your butt with toilet paper. Really, seriously this makes total sense. While you’re in the bathroom, using Charmin, the company who makes it would like you to say to yourself, “Wow, this Charmin is soft, squishy and I love to touch it.” And if you’ve done that, they’ve done their job.

Teddy Bears: Teddy Bears are cuddly and loveable. They harken back to our beloved childhood. They come in all colors, sizes and squishiness levels. Once again, all great qualities that a toilet paper could have. Although I’ve never heard someone say, “Darling, when you go to the store would you pick up some of that cuddly, loveable Charmin?”, I still think that’s what we’re all unconsciously thinking.

Puppies: Puppies are spontaneously cute. And seriously, what more do humans want in a toilet paper than a brand that is spontaneously cute. Charmin is spontaneously cute. Puppies also are clumsy and sometimes slide into cabinets in the kitchen, and a particular toilet paper company once even used such an image on a commercial to sell their wares.

Daisies: I lied about this being on any packaging so I could have four things to mention above. Sorry about that.

Now, when it comes to the things our Reluctant Writer has suggested that SHOULD be on the packaging like green grass, flowers or plumbing… I have a very adamant thought on that angle.

1. Green grass makes me think of wheat shots which are gross and cause people to have to go to the bathroom. Not good.

2. Flowers make me think of the time my sister came on a strawberry-picking outing but since she was so young she didn’t know the differences between strawberries and flowers and ended up eating a handful of flowers instead of fruit that day and had the worst-upset stomach ever… And that’s not good either.

3. Plumbing makes me thing of toilet clogs which makes me think that if any toilet paper used plumbing as the image on their packaging all the consumers would just think to themselves that uh oh maybe this toilet paper is too thick for my plumbing, maybe I should buy the generic supermarket brand for 3 dollars less and there you go, a company is out a hundred million dollars.

Some ideas for other packaging images that I think would benefit the sales of toilet paper include (but are not limited to): Shirley Temple, Macaulay Culkin, fish and chips (comfort food), the equation E=MC squared (we all think in the bathroom, don’t we?), pomogranites (helps digestion), the smiling face of Yahoo Serious, rice pudding, goldfish and a pile of Legos.

I think this is a great work-in-progress list that can be added to, for sure. WFME welcomes your additions, deletions and suppositories. Uh, I mean, suppositions.

10 comments on “Words For Your Enjoyment: Toilet Paper Packaging

  1. Jaimie - June 9, 2004 at 9:33 am -

    You and my husband would have alot to discuss on the TP issue!!! He claims to be an expert on TP and can tell you which brand is best, softest, and cheapest with double coupons! He is obsessed! It’s fricken hillarious! He does claim Charmin is the softest, and best! I don’t think he cares what the picture is on front, so long as it is easy on the rear!!! (if ya know what I mean)! Why are guys so obsessed with TP and crapping???? I just don’t get it. Must just be a guy thing! (I love your blog)!!! Jaimie

  2. ifer strong - July 4, 2004 at 11:23 am -

    I am a 30 year old ohio chick who is facinated with the babies on the cover of charmin toilet paper and I like them so much that I actually make miniature toilet paper matchbook size and I use pictures of charmin off coupons to do it,and then I cut long thin strips of charmin and wind them around tiny slivers of the actual cardboard. Hot glue the picture on 6 attached rolls and use a sandwich baggie for the plastic packaging. I bought a picture of a little girl and loved it and then found out that it was from an old charmin mail in give away. There are 3 other pictures that I’d love to have, let me know if you find them , i have the little blonde one. Something funny though when I just read your info, I just had a baby and the one thing I said for my baby shower gifts was, NO TEDDY BEARS. I never have liked teddy bears and I found out today on computer that proter and gamble in here in ohio and they make charmin and after 50 years of using babies on the cover they are now using, you guessed it. BEARS. Go ahead laugh.

  3. Dana Colborne - July 23, 2004 at 9:50 am -

    I was just going through some of my belongings the other day and came across 4 framed pictures of Charmin babies that I had in my room when I was a kid. I am in my mid 40’s and probably got them when I was 5. 3 of the pics are girls one scene is a girls with a white soft wool hat on, one is a blonde girl with flowers, one is of a baby holding a teddybear and one is of a girl holding a white cat. I was just wondering if these may be worth anything and when they actually came out. I think my Grandmother ordered them from Charmin way back when. I was just curious.

    Thanks for your time.

  4. Allie - August 9, 2004 at 7:28 am -

    Hello! It is my desire to help with the puppy and baby trouble on paper products…having been blessed by God with a bit of artistic talent I seek information as to how to become an artist for this company.Please notify me with any helpful assistance. Thank You for your time.

  5. charminbabies - November 7, 2004 at 9:53 am -

    I too am in my 40’s and have the same photos of the Charmin girls as ifer strong. What does one do with these photos of the charmin girls? Thanks

  6. charminbabies - November 7, 2004 at 9:55 am -

    Sorry, that was not ifer strong with the pictures of the charmin girls it was Allie.

  7. susb - May 24, 2005 at 5:46 pm -

    I’m 16 and have those pictures but i know there is a fifth and i want to get it any ideas where?

  8. BreAnna - February 25, 2006 at 9:51 pm -

    My grandma has the four picture of the chrmin girls and they are in there original box they came in the mail and she wanted to know if they are or will be worth anything.And how old are they.

  9. Nancy - September 11, 2006 at 8:31 pm -

    Yesterday I purchased two of the Charmin little girl pictures. I paid $18 each for them, plus tax. They are framed and appear to be in good shape. I don’t know whether this is a good indicator of their value; I bought them because my friend mentioned once that her mother had two of the pictues, the blonde and the dark-haired girl. One was hers (she had blonde hair) and the other was her sister’s (she was a brunette). She said she wished she had them now so I’m going to surprise her. I didn’t even realize there are more than just two pictures so I hope I purchased the right ones.

  10. Angela - September 27, 2006 at 10:47 am -

    I, too, have all 4 of the girls. They are so cute! I’ve had them since I was a little girl (I’m now 33). They were my mom’s when she was little. She’s now 56, so imagine how old these are. I’ve oftened wondered if they were worth anything, too. Mine aren’t in great shape anymore, but they’re still cute.

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