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You’ve likely seen the news that people are panic buying toilet paper at the moment. Is it dumb? Probably. Is it the first time it’s ever happened? Definitely not.

Back in the 70s in the US, amid an oil price war, lots of stuff was in short supply. Americans were used to seeing limits on petrol and other essentials. So, when a mild rumour about a possible shortage in loo roll started to circulate people began to worry. In actual fact, there was pretty much zero risk of a shortage, but some papers started to run stories advising people to stock up. Then, late night TV host Johnny Carson made an off the cuff joke about it during his opening monologue. After that, everything went crazy…

This Atlantic Documentary Explores The 1973 Toilet Paper Panic image of Toilet Paper

People believed the rumours and started to buy huge quantities of toilet paper. This meant that manufacturers couldn’t keep up, which actually did mean that there were real shortages. The vicious cycle continued for months. It was a big crisis that never needed to happen. Such a silly thing, that could never happen again… right?

Toilet Paper Panic|The Atlantic|Documentary

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