Toilet paper is flying off the shelves. So in loo of those quilted rolls, Americans are turning to their next-best option for posterior hygiene.
In the midst of the pandemic, sales of bidets — basins and toilet add-ons that clean your delicate bits with a jet stream of water — have been out the wazoo.
Bidet brands like the startup Tushy told Business Insider that they’re flush with demand: they’ve witnessed a “huge uptick” in sales — as much as 50% in some cases — since the arrival of COVID-19.
At first, Americans were slow to get off the pot
The first bidets hit the scene in 1600s France — initially, as an upper-class instrument fashioned with wood and a leather cushion. The word “bidet” comes from the French word for “pony,” which hints at an essential engineering feature: you have to straddle it.
Although bidets have since crossed oceans, becoming a mainstay in much of Asia, Europe, and Latin America, Americans have avoided them.
Their reluctance dates back to World War II: American troops stationed in Europe mostly encountered bidets in the context of sex work, cementing them as a symbol of sex — and as the butt of jokes.
But when it comes to TP, hindsight is 20/20
Americans spin through as many as 3 rolls each week, but some rear-facing experts insist that bidets are way more sanitary.
As rectal surgeon Evan Goldstein said during last year’s appropriately named Butt-Con, “Charmin and all these brands have done a great job making us think that toilet paper is hygienic. It’s not.”