What Is This? A Close Look at Pocket Lint?

Hint: It dates back to 6th-century China but never really caught on until the mid-1800s, when it was introduced in its packaged, modern form.

By Andrew Grant|Friday, June 19, 2009
Steve Gshmeissner/Photo Researchers

Answer: Toilet Paper (Unused)

The Chinese first used toilet paper made of rice straw more than 1,400 years ago. Finally, in 1857, Joseph Gayetty introduced the first packaged toilet tissue, which proved to be more convenient than the previously common practice of using The Old Farmer’s Almanac. (In the almanac’s defense, it did have a hole in it for easy toilet-side hanging.) Nowadays, a roll made up of all the TP Americans use in a year would stretch about 300 million miles—more than three times the distance between Earth and the sun.

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