Thu, Apr 11, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Why poo is no longer taboo

By Peter Robinson  /  The Guardian

Human baby poo.

Photo courtesy of THE NATIONAL POO MUSEUM

“I was a little hesitant about setting up the National Poo Museum,” begins Daniel Roberts, co-creator of the Isle of Wight’s most intriguing new tourist destination. “I thought: am I going to be socially contaminated? Are people going to point at me? Am I going to become Mr Poo?”

He needn’t have worried. The museum’s exhibits — encased in balls of resin, like something from a slightly troubling reimagining of Jurassic Park — were a hit. During the year in which the attraction was housed at the Isle of Wight Zoo, the zoo reported its busiest-ever summer.

“People just loved it,” Roberts says. “We were nobodies, but because we mentioned poo, the whole world came running.”

The museum’s arrival couldn’t have been better timed because, as Roberts puts it: “In the two years since we launched, we’ve seen an explosion in poo.”

This is what we might term the sheitgeist. Is there a parent in the land whose child has not arrived home in the last two years clutching a party bag containing some sort of poo-related item: an emoji keyring, a poo-themed eraser, a pot of white or rainbow-colored “unicorn poo” slime or putty? A-list party bags are not exempt: at this year’s Oscars, coveted goodie bags given to nominees included a toilet plunger in the shape of a smiling poo.

The “pile of poop” emoji may have peaked in cultural terms when Patrick Stewart voiced the cheery plop in 2017’s The Emoji Movie, but nothing could stop this movement. Last August, according to Google Trends, poop became bigger than Beyonce; last month the Unko Museum opened in Japan, offering interactive exhibits, a ball pit (maybe give that one a miss), games and art. Its mascot, Umberto, is “a philosopher who recalls the truth of the universe on the toilet seat”.

Bowel-based interests are nothing new — whoopee cushions date back to ancient Rome and a Sumerian one-liner from 1900 BC, cited as the world’s oldest joke, centres on flatulence. But poo merchandise has leapt from the joke shop to the high street. Next year Play-Doh will offer a special Poop Troop set containing four brown pots promising “squishy, poopy fun.” Unicorn excrement tops Asda cupcakes and BBC Good Food offers directions on how to create poop meringues. There’s fun for all the family with board games like Hook-A-Poop, Doggie Poo and Don’t Step In It. Claire’s Accessories has sold poo-themed earrings and lip gloss. For a poo nightlight, find your local branch of The Entertainer. Head to Hamleys for a Poopsie Slime Surprise Assortment. Drones configured as flying dung? Sure, why not: £4 on Amazon.

KIDS LOVE THEIR POO

Last year H Grossman, Scotland’s biggest toy manufacturer, sold half a million pots of unicorn poo. Spokesperson Julie Pittilla says Grossman also offers dog poo (“That one comes with two flies — a classy touch”), unicorn poo, llama poo, mermaid poo (“It brings up all sorts of images, doesn’t it?”), dinosaur poo, flamingo poo and sloth poo.

“Kids have always loved poo,” Pittilla declares. “It’s a bit of defiance — it’s like walking into a room full of vicars and shouting something rude.”

Creating similar products is Tobar, whose sub-brand The Throne Room offers a tightly coiled “poo hat” and something called the Floater.

“We’ve got a pack of two wind-up poos,” adds CEO David Mordecai. “You can put them in the bath so you have poos racing against each other.”

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