Do you remember the time when one man from Iowa created America’s first toilet paper shortage?

It happened on December 19, 1973 when Iowa’s most famous TV Talk show host Johnny Carson joked on the Tonight Show that toilet paper was “disappearing from supermarket shelves”.

According to Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, Carson had been telling a story that claimed the U.S. government was possibly facing a short supply of securing toilet tissue.

The very next day, millions of shoppers began storming local stores, buying out all the toilet paper they could hoard.

Carson had literally created a toilet paper shortage by simply joking about it on late night TV!

Keystone Features, Getty Images
Keystone Features, Getty Images

It was at a time when the USA was facing several shortages. Stores began limiting shoppers’ purchases to just a few precious rolls. At the time four packs were about as large as retail packs were sold. It didn’t matter. Within days the shelves were bare.

Carson felt terrible. He went back on the air and explained there really was no shortage, that it was all a joke. But it did little to stop the immediate hoarding.

It was only after weeks and weeks of panic buying and consumer hysteria that things slowly returned to normal.

America had survived its first toilet paper panic. And it all started in part as the result of a joke by a guy who was born and raised in Corning, Iowa.

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