February 9, 2007


And the men behind the brand are...
E. Irvin Scott and Clarence Scott

As America charged into the 20th century the standard of living was rising rapidly. Indoor plumbing, for over a hundred years reserved for royalty and the rich, was becoming within the reach of home owners and hotels. As outhouses gave way to “the smallest room in the house” the Scott Paper Company saw an obvious need to produce a product known as “toilet tissue.”

Toilet paper had been around since pre-Civil War times in packages of individual sheets. The product never caught on. People couldn’t understand why they would want to waste scarce clean paper when out-of-date catalogues and yesterday’s newspapers could get the job done. And supply ample reading material.

Scotts’ tissue paper came in small rolls, wrapped in plain brown paper. It was the ideal product at the right time. But there was a problem. The strict Victorian mores of the day proscribed overt advertising of such an unmentionable product as toilet tissue.

The fledgling business took a different tack. They purchased “parent rolls” of paper, which they converted into perforated rolls of toilet paper, and sold to independent merchants under private labels. At the peak of its private label venture Scott produced more than 2,000 different brands for its customers.
Still nobody knew the Scott name.

E. Irvin and Clarence Scott had come from Saratoga County, New York to Philadelphia where they pooled their meager resources in Philadelphia to form the Scott Paper Company in 1879. The original business of Scott was “coarse” paper goods, including such items as bags and wrapping paper.

Anonymously, they built their business until Arthur Hoyt Scott, Irvin’s son,
urged the senior partners to concentrate on a few of its own name brands.
His philosophy was to make only a few high quality products, sell them at as low a cost as possible and keep a high profile with advertising. In 1902, Scott Paper made its first acquisition, buying the Waldorf trademark from one of its customers. Waldorf is still in distribution today, the nation’s oldest name-brand toilet tissue.

Legend has it that the paper towel joined the Scott Paper team in 1907 from the desire of a Philadelphia schoolteacher to replace an unsanitary cloth towel used daily by her students. One roll of paper arrived from their supplier excessively heavy and wrinkled. The roll was rejected for toilet tissue and scheduled to be sent back to the mill. A member of the Scott family rescued the roll, suggesting it be perforated into small towel-sized sheets.

Sani-Towel debuted in 1907 as the first disposable “paper towel.”
Hotels, restaurants and railroad stations were the only customers for years. Housewives were more interested in economics than convenience and continued to wash their cloth towels. In 1931 Sani-Towel became ScotTowels; a roll of two hundred sheets retailed for a quarter. The paper towel was on its way to becoming an American household staple.

By that time the Scott brothers had faded from their leadership positions. Rising demand for their disposable paper products had forced the innovation of new paper-making methods. The Scotts had built the largest and most efficient tissue manufacturer in the world.


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