Toilet Paper Dispensers Are Awful

The wheel and axle is the most ubiquitous and simplest technology available to human civilization. It consists of only two, incredibly basic parts and performs one incredibly basic function; to roll smoothly. The wheel is likely over six thousand years old now and even though the phrase "don't reinvent the wheel" has come to mean don't make things more difficult than they have to be, one incredibly infuriating industry refuses to acknowledge the numerous technological advancements science has made in the field of rolling things. The industry? The designers of toilet paper dispensers.

On its face, it seems like such an easy concept. The toilet paper already has a hole through it; their sole job is to supply a removable rod and mounting apparatus.

Yet, this challenge continues to confound the engineers who design toilet paper dispensers, as can be seen in their designs which seem to have only a passing familiarity with concepts such as weight, friction, and common sense. Though there are many out there, I have chosen the worst three designs for review.


The Kung-Fu Grip
Toilet paper roll thickness is not a consistent dimension. It ranges from the svelte, gas station-grade, 80-grit sandpaper rolls to the pillow-like, fake breast cushion of Angel Soft or Charmin. Toilet paper dispensers, however, do not care. They have decided that all people shall use incomprehensibly thin rolls of toilet paper, which results in travesties such as this:

Stuff like this is why men leave the new roll on top of the tank, ladies.

The pathetic T-Rex arms of the dispenser here are too short to allow the roll to spin freely, instead wedging it against the wall and causing the paper to tear with the slightest tug, simultaneously spiking my blood pressure to Kirstie Alley levels. Recessed dispensers are particularly guilty of this.

Similarly, there are designs that have some sort of flared end to make the wall joint more aesthetically pleasing. Here is the appalling flaw with this concept:

But it's cute!

The flare squeezes the edge of the roll and makes it impossible to move. I don't need my toilet paper dispenser to be visually appealing, I need it to be able to dispense the goddamn toilet paper.


The Jumbo Drum Brake
The jumbo size roll is the favorite of public restrooms and many of us feel relief at the knowledge that our trusty 2,000 foot friend can sustain even the mightiest of poopers. However, that endurance comes at a price, namely single-ply paper that you can tear just by giving it a stern look. This makes it all the more frustrating when jumbo roll dispensers either make the space between spindle and the roll so tight the roll is wedged on there like some sort of sadistic interference fit, or else make the spindle out of some hitherto unknown material which generates so much friction that it technically qualifies as Velcro:

Pull. Rip. Scream. Pull. Rip. Scream.

As a result, you have to slowly and patiently pull the roll to avoid tearing it (if you're lucky, you might get three squares using this method) and each time it does, you get to scrape your hand on the jagged teeth of the dispenser as you reach into the device like some sort of mechanical proctologist in order to retrieve the roll's bitter end.


The Leaning Tower of Pissing Me The Hell Off
I'm not sure if this design was spawned out of desire to not to punch holes in bathroom walls or if there really is a market out there for portable TP dispensers, but whatever the case, many makers of freestanding dispensers seem to forget that when you pull on tall objects, they have a nasty tendency to tip over:

It weebles and it wobbles, but then it falls the fuck down.

This flaw could be easily corrected in so many ways, such as making the base wider and heavier. These are all fixes that anyone who wasn't born with an umbilical cord around their neck could easily supply. Doesn't anyone field test this stuff before they try to sell it?


To any dispenser designers out there: I'm available for consulting work to help improve your irredeemably crappy products.


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Copyright 2011-2014 Chris Radomile