How does a town in the land of cheese, bratwursts, and beer get named the toilet paper capital of the world? Not for the reason you might guess.

A lot of places have interesting claims to fame. Hometown to an obscure professional athlete from decades ago? Sure. Birthplace of a regional food invention? Why not. Home to a quirky roadside attraction? Of course.

But how does a town become the "toilet paper capital of the world"? It's a story many don't know, but everyone can be thankful for.

What Wisconsin town is the toilet paper capital of the world?

Photo by Nik on Unsplash
Photo by Nik on Unsplash

While it isn't the first thing that comes to mind when people think of this town, it's kind of a big deal.

Known to most around the country as the home of the Green Bay Packers, this blue-collar Wisconsin town and county seat of Brown County (I'm not making that up) also has the title of toilet paper capital of the world.

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Green Bay, Wisconsin - or "Titletown USA" - doesn't have this other title due to some weird quirk like having high usage per capita or something like that. Rather, some interesting history and an innovation the world can be very happy about.

Why is Green Bay the toilet paper capital of the world?

Photo by visuals on Unsplash
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

There are a couple of pieces to that title.

As Atlas Obscura explains, the first major piece to this puzzle came as Northern Paper Mills in Green Bay introduced a sanitary tissue product called "Northern Tissue". The initial release of this product in 1901 came in an era when indoor plumbing started to become more common and a need for something more flushable than things like catalog pages.

Northern Tissue became a popular product over the next 20 years, and Northern Paper Mills rode that success to becoming the world's largest producer of this type of product. The story doesn't stop there, though (thankfully).

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As the industry continued to grow, Green Bay's Northern Paper Mills came up with an innovation that would change the course of toilet paper history as we know it.

As the Green Bay Press-Gazette shares, Northern Paper introduced a revolutionary new version of their product in 1935: splinter-free toilet paper. THANK GOODNESS! Most paper products of the era were made from wood chips, and even toilet paper had some splinters and, uh, rough fibers in it.

The publication shares that in 1935, only s small percentage of toilet paper was completely splinter-free. Northern's introduction of their product revolutionized the industry, eventually bringing about the de-splintering of the remaining toilet paper products being made by manufacturers.

Northern Tissue would eventually become Quilted Northern, now being produced by Georgia-Pacific, which still makes toilet paper and other paper products in Green Bay.

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Gallery Credit: Lauren Wells