Ben stared in dismay at the hundreds of bits of paper scattered around his room. This was going to be a lot of work.
His brother waltzed in and picked up a larger sheet.
"Watchya doin' writin' about toilet paper?" he asked.
"It's not about toilet paper," replied Ben. "It's a puzzle."
Primary puzzle goal: identify the mechanism.
Secondary puzzle goal: complete the following equations by filling in the missing digits.
For the second part (digits), there is an intended/best solution, but other interesting solutions are accepted, as the "math" is not precise. (Personally I only found one good solution for each, but leaving this disclaimer just in case).
- 5122 + 4454 = 4470
- 4847 + 1241 = 2440
- 4192 + 5077 + 4735 = 3912
- 740 + 2475 = 2280
- 614 + 548 + 4550 = 233
- 1562 + 4437 = 4???
- 1932 + 2938 = 2???
- 2404 + 73 = 2???
- 1504 + 5032 = ???
It is perfectly normal for this situation to occur. My room is also sometimes covered in tiny bits of paper. Why? And why is his name Ben?
Ben is number one. He is also an American.
The key to solving this puzzle hinges upon a single word. The word is hidden in some fairly obvious places, though it itself is not so obvious. The word is NOT Ben, Sheet, Paper, or any other word in this puzzle; neither does it contain an 'A'.
The topic is clued by the body and Hint 2. It is simple and well known by everyone, not nearly as esoteric as the two suggestions given in comments.
If you find the topic, you will immediately find yourself looking for something else, something very specific and "mathematical". For that, look to the title (or any or all of the other hints; they are redundant). The title is less useful for non-Americans, thus I offered some alternate hints.
Topic: You wouldn't lick toilet paper, but...
Enumeration: The title refers to a specific American brand name