It started with an unsubstantiated rumor. “You can laugh now,” said Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1973, “but there is an acute shortage of toilet paper.” There wasn’t— but it didn’t matter. The broadcast sent America into a mass panic. Millions of shoppers swarmed into grocery stores to begin hoarding toilet paper. The Scott Paper Company insisted that the shortage was being artificially induced, and urged people to stop panic-buying the product. Nevertheless, for four months, toilet paper—absent from the selves—was bartered, traded, and even sold on the black market. Out of nowhere, a shortage was born. Read more: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/608209/toilet-paper-shortage/

“The Great Toilet Paper Scare” was directed by Brian Gersten (https://www.briangersten.org). It is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent filmmakers, curated by The Atlantic.

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