If you ended up here reading this, we’re sure the thought and wonder “how can a toilet be famous” crossed your mind, and we’re here to tell you how. In the same sense as, say, a car or a boat can be famous for being the first one to cross a sea or be driven by a celebrity; toilets also enjoy this same level of whimsy and allure. In fact, since almost every human over the last century has used a toilet at least a few times, it could be argued that famous toilets can be found across the globe, and even in outer space!
Here’s a rundown of some of the most famous toilets around the world, and what makes the porcelain throne of which we each spend an estimated year and a half of our lives sitting on, a vessel worthy of celebrating.
The Ajax Toilet
Touted by historians as the first official toilet, the Ajax toilet was created by Sir John Harrington, an English poet and the godson of Queen Elizabeth. Legend has it that Harrington had a habit of telling risqué stores in his writing, and was sent into exile for 7 years, from 1584 to 1591. During that time, he built himself a house and developed a flushing toilet that he installed into the floor of the home. After his exile ended, the Queen herself visited his home he built and tried out the Ajax toilet herself. She loved it so much that she ordered Sir John to install one in one of her palaces.
It wouldn’t be for another 200 years until Alexander Cummings, a British inventor, patented the first flushable toilet. While Sir John Harrington was long gone by that time, the newly patented toilet shared many similarities to Harrington’s Ajax.
Jumping ahead from the primitive days of the toilet to the technology-packed toilets of the 21st century, the Neorest 550 from Japanese bathroom fixture manufacturer Toto. Unveiled to the public in 2008 at an event in New York City that could have easily been confused for a Fashion Week party, the Neorest 550 is quite possibly the ultimate toilet.
For starters, you don’t need toilet paper when you own a Neorest 550. The toilet comes equipped with 3 different water jets designed to clean your bottom. The jets are fully adjustable, and once you’re clean, you can flip on the built-in blower to dry off your rear. The toilet can also detect when you are nearby and automatically open the lid and turn on an ambient light, and will close the lid for you when you’re done. Its built-in catalytic deodorizer can handle the foulest smells, neutralizing them through a series of filters. The crown jewel of this throne is the built-in sound system, designed to provide “cover” for sounds that may come from bathroom use, as well as to promote meditation and relaxation during your time using the Neorest550. With a price tag upwards of $5,000, Toto’s toilet of the future isn’t for everyone, but is readily available on the consumer market.
Thomas Crapper’s Toilet
A legend of English lore, Thomas Crapper was a plumber in Victorian England who held nine different patents for toilet parts. Unfortunately, despite his perfect name for a toilet joke or two, he was not the inventor of the flushable toilet, but he was in the industry! His plumbing business did install toilets through London and England, and also manufactured parts of toilets and drains, so it was fairly common to find a toilet with branding on it that said “T. Crapper-Chelsea” in the metal. Because Thomas Crapper’s plumbing company was hired to install a number of lavatories in British royal properties and government buildings, his name became synonymous with toilets in England, similar to how “Port-a-Johns” have become synonymous with any temporary toilets in the United States. While there are very few toilets left in use that Thomas Crapper or his company worked on, his legend lives on.
The NASA Toilet
You thought the Neorest 550 was expensive? How about paying $19 million dollars for a toilet?! That’s exactly what NASA purchased for the International Space Station. The Russian-designed toilet was engineered for use in zero gravity, a feat that could get quite messy if it didn’t work as designed. The toilet features leg restraints and thigh bars to hold the space station residents in place, and separates solid waste from urine. The solid waste gets frozen to eliminate odor and bacteria, while the urine gets collected and filtered to be used as drinking water.
Many people cringe at the thought of having to use a public bathroom, but eventually it’s a necessary evil that we all must face. Enter the Chongqing Bathroom. This major city in Southwest China is home to the world’s largest public bathroom, touting over 1,000 toilets and urinals that spread over 32,000 square feet. Not only does this sprawling bathroom complex have music, TV and Wi-Fi throughout the grounds, but it also has uniquely designed urinals in some sections, shaped like crocodile mouths, or urinals topped with the busts of women.
Mount McKinley Toilet
On your way up Mount McKinley, the United State’s tallest peak, any chance to sit and rest is a welcome reprieve. With subzero temperatures being the norm that climbers experience during their summit attempts, using the toilet is usually limited to digging a hole in the snow. But at 14,200 ft., roughly ⅔ of the way up the mountain, trekkers will find a single outdoor bio-toilet, surrounded by 3 pieces of wood. While it is about as far as you can get from the comforts of your home toilet, there are few places on the planet where you can take a number 2 with a view like this.