History of the Toilet

The toilet is a relatively modern invention that developed during the Industrial Revolution. Credit for the invention of the toilet is usually bestowed on Sir John Harington as far back as 1596. His toilet had a flush valve to let water out of the tank, and a wash-down design to empty the bowl. However, Harington’s model was way ahead of its time and would be mocked, causing Harington to give up on the idea.

It wasn’t until two hundred years later that Alexander Cummings would reinvent Harington’s toilet. Cummings invented the strap, a sliding valve between the bowl and the trap. It was the first of its kind.

It didn’t take long for others to follow Cummings lead. From the late 1850 to the mid-1890s the number of patents granted for toilet designs grew as more and more inventors realized the potential market for an improved model. By the turn of the century, toilet innovations were occurring on a nearly daily basis. The U.S. Patent Office received applications for 350 new toilet designs between 1900 and 1032.

Much credit can be given to multiple inventors for the toilet as we know it today. While scientists in our day still work on perfecting the toilet by creating the “jet flush”, it seems the toilet is a constantly developing necessity.

Toilette History

The word “ toilet came to be used in English along with other French fashions. It originally referred to the toile, French for “cloth”, draped over a lady or gentleman’s shoulders whilst their hair was being dressed, and then (in both French& English) by extension to the various elements, and also the whole complex of operations of hairdressing and body care that centered at a dressing table, also covered by a cloth, on which stood a mirror and various brushes and containers for powder and make-up: this ensemble was also a toilette.

As the years went by, the word evolved into actually being the room or facility in which one arranges their toilet, perhaps following the French usage cabinet de toilette, meaning powder-room. In modern days, the toilet refers to the plumbing fixture that one might use in the “bathroom”, with “bathroom” now describing the facility one would go to for the purpose of using the toilet or lavatory.

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History of the Portable Toilet

Along with the development of the toilet, came the development of the portable toilet. The first portable toilets were made of wood and metal. This design made the portable toilet heavy, difficult to transport, absorbed odors, and was difficult to keep sanitary. In the early 1970s, portable toilets made of fiberglass were introduced. They were lighter than wood and easier to transport. However, the fiberglass toilets required more maintenance and absorbed odors as well. In the mid-1970s, polyethylene portable toilets were introduced. Polyethylene made portable toilets lightweight and more durable, as well as being easier to clean and did not absorb odor. Polyethylene is the most popular material for portable toilets today.

Much like the toilet, the portable toilet is also constantly developing and evolving. Today, CALLAHEAD has invented & created more for the portable toilet industry than any other company in America.

Head History

The use of the term “head” often refers to a ship’s toilet. This reference dates back to as early as 1708 when Woodes Rogers (English privateer and Governor of the Bahamas) used the word in his book, A Cruising Voyage Around the World. Another early usage is in Thomas Smollett’s novel of travel and adventure, Roderick Random, published in 1748. The ships’ toilet was typically placed at the head or bow of the ship. In sailing ships, this position is sensible for two reasons: first, since most vessels of the era could not go to weather particularly well, the winds came mostly from the side of the ship, placing the head essentially downwind. This allowed for any residual odors to naturally get blown away rather than be carried across the whole ship. Secondly, if placed somewhat above the water line, vents or slots cut near the floor level would allow normal wave action to wash out the facility.

Centuries later this definition would serve in naming New York’s largest sanitation comp[any, CALLAHEAD. With that much thought and concern put into the name alone, it’s no wonder each and every one of CALLAHEAD’s products has its own unique & clever qualities!

Toilet Facts:

Toilet Terms:

Head, powder room, lavatory, outhouse, ladies, convenience, washroom, men’s room, bathroom, dunny, bog, khazi, gents, latrine, commode, garderobe, necessary, women’s room, restroom, potty, privy, the smallest room, cloakroom, latrine, place of easement, water closert)WC, john, can, little girls’ room, little boys’ room, throne room, facilities

History of the Toilet Paper

Toilet paper has a relatively short history in the world of modern conveniences.

The earliest form of toilet paper ranged from sticks to corncobs to linen to leaves. Toilet paper, as we know it today, actually had its start in 14th Century China. It was produced for the Chinese emperors in 2 by 3-foot sheets.

The first commercially packaged toilet paper in the United States was produced by New Yorker, Joseph C. Gayetty in 1857. He packaged the first toilet paper in flat sheets that were medicated with aloe, naming it “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper” and even printed his name on each sheet.

The rolled and perforated toilet paper that we are familiar with was invented in the late 1870s. The Albany Perforated Wrapping Company developed a perforated, medicated rolled toilet paper in 1877 that was marketed to the general public.

A couple of years later the Scott Paper Company also produced rolled toilet paper. The company was founded in Philadelphia in 1879 by brothers E. Irvin and Clarence Scott. At that time Scott didn’t put its name on the toilet paper rolls, because it was considered an “unmentionable” product during the Victorian era and, hence, there was a large amount of public resistance to buying such a commodity. To solve that problem, Scott began customizing toilet paper for each merchant-customer.

As toilet paper gained more public acceptance, the Scott Company began producing toilet paper under its own brand name in 1896. By 1925 Scott had become the world’s leading producer of toilet paper. The Scott Company was eventually acquired by Kimberly Clark in 1995.

In 1935, Northern Tissue manufactured the first “splinter-free” toilet paper. It seems the manufacturing process of early toilet paper occasionally left wood splinters in the paper. The world’s first soft, two-ply toilet paper was manufactured in 1942 by the St. Andrews Paper Mill in Walthamstow, London, England.

Kimberly Clark, Georgia Pacific, Fort James, and Proctor and Gamble are the major manufacturers of toilet paper in the United States. There are approximately 86,000,000 rolls of toilet paper produced each day worldwide. That’s about 30 billion rolls of toilet paper per year which equal about 3 rolls produced per second, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The Toilet Paper Shortage of 1973

In the early 1970s, everything was in short supply, especially oil. When Americans heard the word shortage, they would rush out and purchase these items in mass amounts.

On December 19, 1973, the writes for the Johnny Carson Tonight Show had heard earlier in the day about a Wisconsin congressman named Harold Froehlich who claimed that the federal government was falling behind in getting bids to supply toilet paper and that “The United States may face a serious shortage of toilet tissue within a few months”.

The writers decided to include a joke based on this quote in Carson’s monologue. He said You know what’s disappearing from the supermarket shelves? Toilet Paper. There’s an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States”.

The next morning, many of the 20 million television viewers ran to the supermarket and bought all the toilet paper they could find. By noon, most of the stores were out of stock! The store tried to ration the stuff, but they couldn’t keep up with demand.

Johnny Carson went on air several nights later and explained that there was no shortage and apologized for scaring the public. Unfortunately, people saw all the empty shelves in the stores, so the stampede continued.

Scott Paper showed a video of their plants in full production to the public and asked them to stay calm – there was no shortage. The video was a little help, the panic fed itself & continued.

The shelves were finally fully restocked three weeks later and the shortage was over. It is the only time in American history that the consumer actually created a major shortage.