Remember When Johnny Carson Caused A National Toilet Paper Shortage?

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
Tonight Show host Johnny Carson on August 3rd, 1971-- (Photo by: Fred Sabine/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

It was the toilet paper shortage of '73 -- Johnny Carson, Tonight Show host, helped spark a run on bath tissue when he joked about a shortage on the air, and Americans reacted with hysteria over possible disruption of their bathroom ritual. There are many ways everyday life might be disrupted by scarcity, but not being able to clean ourselves seems to be America's worst nightmare, as we have seen in 2020 with the TP shortage caused by coronavirus. Toilet paper and the virus have little to do with each other, but shoppers began to hoard their Charmin and Cottonelle as the news became more and more serious. In 1973, the pattern was different in the details but the result was the same -- bare shelves in stores, and national angst over just what we were going to do if the supply actually ran out.