Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Paper Towel Theory

I'm just going to come out and say it. American paper products are superior to Indian paper products.

Prior to leaving for India we made a stop at Costco and purchased a cache of paper towels, toilet paper, and Kleenex. We had no idea if the supply would last the entire two years but bought an amount that was excessive yet didn't have people looking at us like we were stocking up to tee-pee our neighbors. While the Kleenex and toilet paper are going strong (the reality is that the toilet paper isn't all that bad so we still have quite the supply of Charmin for any guests headed this direction), we recently opened up the last roll of Bounty paper towels. This may become an issue.

I believe in this American superiority for all three varieties of products mentioned above; however, it's especially true when it comes to paper towels. The reason? Bounty paper towels actually, you know, absorb.

I know what you're probably thinking, "John, you have a cook. What could you possibly need a paper towel for? You haven't prepared a full meal in nearly a year and probably haven't cleaned a kitchen in over four" or "John, this is all part of the deal, not everything is available overseas, it's time to man up and recognize this." I guarantee you wouldn't be thinking the same thing if you ever tried to clean up a spill with an Indian paper towel. You'd feel some semblance of sympathy for me. You would.

Not surprisingly, I have a completely unfounded theory on why such a difference exists. My theory is that there's a direct correlation between the type of tree used to make the paper product and its softness and ability to absorb. Or it could just be that Americans are a bunch of wusses that require all kinds of additional crap in their paper products to make them more soft and luxurious. I'd argue that that degree of luxury also adds a degree or two of function. This likely makes me sound like an ignorant fool, but I'm used to that. As a disclaimer, I'm in no way a student of paper science (which believe it or not is an actual thing, it was offered at my university).

Regardless, I'm down to my last roll of American paper towels, which puts me a week or two away from having to slosh liquids around under the tough, non-absorbant fibers of an Indian paper towel any time I spill (which for some unknown reason happens a lot more here than at home).


  1. Did you know it is now somewhat fashionable, politically correct, "green", to utilize very few paper towels in some parts of the US now? They are using cloth towels, rags and launder them. Means all that dirty "yuk" hangs around in laundry for a time.
    When I lived in Germany in 57/58, we LUSTED after American softer more absorbent paper goods too! My mom typed a few letters to send to the US on German Toilet paper to clearly demonstrate it's harshness & stiffness!!
    Also, the whole Indian paper topic is quite interesting as "handmade" paper is considered a special product amongst Indians. It is sold as a lovely wrapping paper, note cards, etc. Never heard any boasting about their paper towels though. Understand your upcoming pain....

  2. Washcloths, hand towels, and rags are pretty soft and absorbent! You were after an adventure, remember? ;)

  3. Get some more dish rags and laundry?

    How much are you spilling?!?

  4. In my defense, I just told Lindsay that we were on the last roll. Her response, "Oh no....that's sad."

  5. Nice blog...Thanks for post this information....https://goo.gl/gH9JVP

  6. https://johnluth.blogspot.in/2011/01/paper-towel-theory.html?showComment=1511004213262#c1999529513143484047