NAPKINS ARE THE MUTTS OF THE PAPER GOODS INDUSTRY

If given the choice between a paper towel, or a napkin, which would you choose? Because it’s not really a choice. There is a correct answer and an answer that will get you a confused Nick Young look. According to Google, millennials have been killing the paper napkin industry over the past few years and I find this interesting. One, because I identify as a millennial (it is, after all, truly just a mindset and ANYONE COULD BE A MILLENNIAL) and two, because I didn’t realize paper napkins were still a thing, to be honest. Who is still using paper napkins? Who is upset that the paper napkin industry is supposedly being killed? Who is unable to find an acceptable alternative to the paper napkin? So many questions for literally zero concerns.

In my mind, the napkin is merely a mixed breed in the paper goods industry. A cross between a paper towel and a tissue. Made in a neat square that is never enough real estate when eating, especially when eating something with your hands, and fragile enough to not hold up for those of us who like to clean our fingers as we eat to maintain some semblance of social expectations. Where did these even come from? I think the only useful thing about the napkin is it’s unique square shape since it folds perfectly in half to either be two rectangles, or two triangles. And that is paper folding asmr right there! But when it comes to practicality, my euphoria can’t overshadow the amount of napkins it takes to stay clean during a meal.

To be fair, though, there is a range of even napkins. As there are with paper towels and tissues as well. You get what you pay for. Are there different thicknesses to napkins depending on what quality you buy? Sure. But think about even a low quality paper towel and it’s comparable to an overpriced napkin. Are there more absorbent napkins depending on what quality you buy? Definitely. But think about how much more absorbent a low quality paper towel is just by sheer absorbency space over that of a napkin. 

The moral here, of course, being that paper towels are superior to napkins. They’re bigger for starters – rectangle v square and we all know it’s not a tissue rectangle here. They tend to be thicker – probably since they’re modeled after towels which are known for absorbency. They’re easier to obtain – it’s way too hard to pick up one napkin, but a paper towel pulls nicely off the roll. They’re much more versatile – paper towels can be used at dinner, for cleaning, or really anytime you need a paper product whereas napkins really only shine with food. Should I keep going?

On the flip side, tissues are also superior to napkins. They both have one job, but the tissue does it well. The napkin on the other hand is a 50 / 50 shot at best and even then the frustration when you hit the wrong side of that bet isn’t worth the gamble. Tissues can also successfully be a one and done type of deal. Napkins, again, rarely let you get away without adding a whole bunch of friends to your plate. 

I think we all know where I stand on this debate. My next main concern is that the Internet seems to be spreading a message that we are “killing” the napkin industry. And that’s a strong word choice. People go to prison for stuff like that. Seems a bit aggressive considering most companies who make napkins also make other products … meaning they would only be shutting down one portion, and hopefully being innovative enough to jump on the paper towel train or go rogue and pick up a really random product to replace them. Like dog collars. You never know. In other words, we’re simply opening up opportunities for new business ventures.

My real question from this post, though, is who is actively purchasing paper napkins in stores? I couldn’t tell you the last time I spent money on a pack of napkins. Or the last time I went to a friend’s house and saw / used napkins. Or seen a pack of napkins in anyone’s cart at the grocery store. Or even seen napkins in an aisle. Where are they? I know where the paper towels are, but napkins? We don’t know. 

Alright, jumping off my pedestal for now. If you know someone who would enjoy this post and want to share it with them, that would be awesome. Sharing is caring, after all. Don’t forget to subscribe to get these in your inbox twice weekly and follow TRP on Twitter for frequent musings. Thanks for reading!


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