The Cult of the Squatty Potty

The $25 stool creating a national bowel movement.

The Squatty Potty is designed to fit right around your toilet for easy storage. How to use it is pretty self-explanatory.

The Squatty Potty is designed to fit right around your toilet for easy storage. How to use it is pretty self-explanatory.

Photographer: Tim Schutsky for Bloomberg Businessweek; Prop Stylist: Priscilla Jeong; Set Design: Heavy Setting

As if modern life wasn’t already full of anxiety, you can add this to your list of worries: You’re going to the bathroom wrong. That’s the claim made by Judy and Robert Edwards, the mother-and-son duo who’ve created the Squatty Potty, a toilet accessory that’s gone from giggly subculture to full-blown phenomenon.

The Squatty Potty is a $25 footstool that promotes a squatting position while you’re on the toilet. “They say necessity is the mother of invention, and, well, my mother was constipated,” Robert says. In 2010 a doctor suggested that squatting—which is how two-thirds of the world relieve themselves, according to the company’s marketing materials, and how three-thirds of humanity did before modernity forced us into a seated position—could improve her situation. When you raise your knees above your hips, the body relaxes certain muscles, turning what many people are familiar with as a debate between body parts into a simple, declarative statement said in unison.

Finding success with squatting, the Edwardses wanted to spread the good news. In 2011 they designed a wooden stool to give to friends as a Christmas gift. “People thought we were crazy at first,” Robert says, “but then they’d come back and say we’d changed their lives.”

Since turning Squatty Potty into a business in 2012, the pair has sold more than 2 million of them, mostly online. Those sales have been boosted by appearances on Shark Tank and The Dr. Oz Show. The company also released a joke-filled video of a unicorn on a toilet. Viewed almost 11 million times on YouTube, it’s led to a 400 percent increase in sales at their primary retailer, Bed Bath & Beyond.

The Edwardses have found their greatest friend in Howard Stern, who’s been evangelizing the benefits of the Squatty Potty—often in vivid, graphic detail—on his show for several years. For Stern, the Squatty Potty has been nothing short of a revelation. “When I hear an angel flying too close to the ground,” he said on-air, “I’m thinking of Squatty.”

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