It was a factory produced error in 1907 that resulted in America’s first commercially packaged, tear-off paper towels.
By that year, the Scott brothers’ paper company was a business success. Their high-quality soft bathroom tissue arrived from a large paper mill in so-called parent rolls. The parent roll was excessively heavy and wrinkled, essentially defective. Unfit for bathroom tissues, the product was scheduled to be returned when a member of the Scott family suggested perforating the thick paper into small towel-sized sheets. The product, he suggested, could be advertised as disposable “paper towels.”