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Corn Cob

From Usenet Archives:

I've heard that the use of dry corn cobs was a fairly popular choice before the advent of toilet paper. It may not have been used by the Natives but it was apparently practiced by early settlers in North America. Once the kernels have been taken off and the cob allowed to dry, the remaining kernel husk, or what ever it's called, on the cob is fairly soft. I don't know how comfortable it would have been, but it sounds a lot more pleasant to use than a rock, smooth stick, or snow!
Michael Teal
I think old timers soaked them in wood ash and water which caused them to swell. They then dried them and they would be soft and fluffy.
Benjamin Pressley
Heh, now this brought up memories that made me laugh! Although pretty much raised a city boy myself, my grandparents lived in the country and used kerosene lamps, a wood burning stove in the kitchen, outside water pump, and yes, the little shack out back for making water and steamers (did I get the turd, er, term, correct for that? ;^) There was never any toilet paper out there, but that's where I learned the meaning of "too hard and too slick", by personal experimentation with the occasional Sears and Roebuck catalog that was in there. It has to do with why the plain white pages were all getting ripped out and the glossy colored pages were left!
But, to the point, when the catalogs were all gone, there was always a couple of buckets of cobs. Most of the cobs were a reddish-brown color, but some were a creamy white. I asked my grandpa what the difference was and with a wink he told me, "First you use a brown one and then you use a white one to see if you need to use another brown one." I was mortified at the time, but have since seen packages of 2 brown and 1 white cob packaged with that saying, for sale in some cheesy tourist shops. Anyway, I'd pick an old cob over a pine cone any day!
Glen Monaghan