I've hoarded toilet paper for as long as I can remember. I've always felt a bit more secure with a couple of extra packages of mega-rolls in my basement, alongside a 12-pack of paper towels and many six-packs of tissues. My family and friends are sometimes puzzled by this behavior, but mostly, they chalk it up to my long career as a brand consultant and a theory they've developed about the pride I have in the products I've helped redesign. I wish it were that simple. While it's true I am loyal to the brands I've redesigned—Kleenex tissues; Viva paper towels; Cottonelle, Andrex, and Scott toilet paper—my penchant for paper products is driven more by psychological needs than physiological ones.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems I am no longer alone in this enthusiastic collection of household staples. In the weeks since coronavirus started spreading across the United States, Americans have rushed to hoard supplies: hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, respirator masks, and disposable rubber gloves.