Ornery baby pulling toilet paper off the roll

Which Way Do You Roll?

How you roll your toilet paper from the dispenser, over or under, may not seem like a controversial issue. Many people may not even think about how the paper rolls. They just put a new roll on the dispenser automatically.

But, when the popular advice columnist Ann Landers offered her rationale for toilet paper rolling direction in 1986, that column generated a record 15,000 letters. It was the largest and most heated response she had to any of the topics she wrote about in her 31 years of the column.

This was in the days before the Internet. The Landers advice column was circulated in print in newspapers across the country, so readers had to have a strong enough feeling about the issue to go to the trouble of writing a letter, buying a stamp, and mailing it.

In her first column on the topic, Landers advocated rolling under. Then after thousands of letters complaining, she wrote another column giving some of their arguments for over. More thousands of letters followed.

The Tissue Issue

Toilet tissue rolling orientation remains a controversial debate topic. Since the 1986 Landers column, there have been dozens of social studies and polls of Americans to determine whether there is a difference between the overs and the unders. The poll numbers vary but all agree that the overs win. In a 2010 online poll by Kimberley-Clark, for example, 72 percent of respondents voted “over.”

Studies have tried to assess whether sex or income or age or political orientation made a difference, with varying results. It is reportedly a contentious issue for newlyweds.

Arguments for over include: It’s easier, it shows off a pattern, it keeps germs away from the wall. Arguments for under are: It’s easier, it looks neater, and (for me, a cat owner, the most important) it makes it harder for a cat to paw to unroll the paper.

In Ann Landers’s final printed column in 2002, she reignited her most controversial topic, with this last word: “P.S. The toilet paper hangs over the top.”

Drain Pro Plumbing doesn’t have an official rule on the topic. We are more concerned with the mechanics of flushing, regardless of how the toilet paper came off the dispenser. We are experts at keeping the flushing process smooth.

So, now that we have your attention, which way do you roll? Over or under, and why?