What Ever Happened to Colored Toilet Paper?

What Ever Happened to Colored Toilet Paper?

Nancy Mitchell
Mar 24, 2018
A 1982 Cottonelle ad, from Branded in the '80s, features five different colors of toilet paper.
(Image credit: Branded in the '80s)

If you're old enough, you might remember a time when toilet paper came in a glorious cornucopia of soft pastel colors, from lavender to pink to beige. But these days, when you walk the toilet paper aisle, everything is the same color: white. So, we need to know: Whatever happened to all the colored toilet paper?

A 1953 American Standard bathroom, spotted on Midcentury Home Style. Clearly white toilet paper has no place in a space like this.
(Image credit: Midcentury Home Style)

According to Toilet Paper World (yes, that is a real publication, although it hasn't been updated since 2014), colored toilet paper first appeared in the '50s. This was the heyday of the colorful bathroom: spaces with toilets and tubs and sinks and tile and maybe even towels carefully color coordinated. To have only one option for toilet paper would've been a real travesty, because who could bear to bring mismatching TP into such a carefully crafted space?

In this 1958 Scott ad spotted on Retro Planet, matching your TP to your bathroom (and your dress) was a very, very big deal.
(Image credit: Retro Planet)

Sometime around the '80s, colored toilet paper began to disappear from the shelves. Toilet Paper World quotes someone called the Toilet Paper King on a few potential reasons for its decline. (The Toilet Paper King, apparently, is Kenn Fischburg, president of Toilet Paper World. It is unclear where the authority for this toilet paper monarchy derives from, or whether the title is self-assigned.) Apparently doctors began warning people that the dyes in colored toilet paper could be harmful to their skin. And there were environmental concerns about the dyes, too.

Toilet paper wasn't the only thing that came in colors: you could also match your facial tissues to your bathroom. This 1962 Scotties ad featured tissues in yellow, pink and lavender.
(Image credit: clotho98/Flickr under CC BY-NC 2.0)

These two things might've been a blow to those brightly colored rolls, but I think the real reason for the demise of colored toilet paper was a change in bathroom design. You do occasionally see a colorful space, but if you look at modern bathrooms they are, for the most part, all white. And the matchy-matchy aesthetic that predominated in the '60s and '70s isn't nearly so popular now. Scott still made colored toilet paper as recently as 2004, but today all their offerings come in a single color: white. (Interestingly enough, pink toilet paper is still a very big thing in France.)

(Image credit: Renova)

The pastel toilet paper of the '60s and '70s may be lost to time, but if you really long to wipe your bottom with something colorful, Renova offers a line of colored toilet paper, in rather startlingingly bright hues (and also in brown and black). It's not cheap, though: a six-pack of the blue will set you back $16.20.

While reading reviews for Renova's pink toilet paper (yes, I read toilet paper reviews, I'm a weirdo), I noticed a charming comment. Someone calling themselves BKB left a five-star review and said:

The color matches perfectly with my 1960 bathroom, will repurchase.

For some reason, knowing that somewhere out there one person is still carefully matching the shade of their toilet paper to their bathroom warmed my heart. Carry on, BKB. Never settle for less than the perfect match.

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