It boggles the mind to think about the improvements that innovative individuals have managed to implement with the simple toilet paper roll. There is one such innovation I found particularly intriguing.
At first I thought it was an anti-theft device, somewhat like the protection on some paper towel dispensers.
Certain towel dispensers store paper towels in a stack where the trailing edge of each one is folded within the next one. You pull out a towel through an opening in the bottom of the dispenser, and because of the interfolding technique, the edge of the next towel automatically gets pulled out for the next person to conveniently grab.
These particular paper towel dispensers have a lock on the top. Clearly this is an important security precaution. Without the lock, someone could just grab a stack of paper towels en masse in just a few seconds. With the lock, someone can still steal lots of paper towels, but they really have to work at it, taking them one towel at a time. I can easily imagine this thwarting many potential bathroom criminals. It would be tedious to have to acquire their loot one towel at a time. I’m sure they simply don’t have the patience for that sort of thing.
But I digress. The amazing invention I’d like to talk about has two rolls of toilet paper in a single dispenser. But wait, there’s more. There’s a clever interlock mechanism. The cutaway view below attempts to depict this mechanism:
The picture shows a top view cutaway with the bottom of the picture being the front of the device. The enclosure containing the two rolls is open in the front. Suppose that the sideways-L gray piece were not there. Then our sinister bathroom criminal could just swipe the two rolls of toilet paper out the front of the contraption in one fell swoop. But the gray piece is actually a sliding door. As shown, it covers the left-hand part of the front opening, so that only the right-hand roll is accessible. But the part of the gray piece between the rolls is the clever part. As long as there is paper on the right-hand roll, the door can’t be slid to the right, because the paper is in the way. But once the roll is used up, then, presto, just like magic, the interlock mechanism now allows the door to be slid to the right to access the left-hand roll!
Now our devious bathroom criminal is foiled. In order to steal the two rolls of toilet paper, he’d have to take one, and then slide a door to the other side, and then take the second roll, rather than being able to take the two rolls en masse. I’m sure most bathroom criminals don’t have the patience for that sort of thing.
As if its anti-crime protection weren’t enough, I suspect there is also an anti-germ purpose behind this contraption. These days people are much more germ-aware, and protection against stray germs could be an additional motivation to keep the second roll enclosed until it is needed.