This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.
No, Thomas Crapper didn’t invent the modern flushing toilet. Airplanes don’t directly dump “blue ice” and human waste from 30,000 feet. And alligators can’t thrive in a New York City sewer.
These are some of the abundant toilet myths that have circulated across the internet and beyond.
All that said, some of the stories originated from a kernel of truth: sometimes, unlucky bathroom users can find rats floating in the bowl, but “not nearly as much as is claimed,” says Snopes.com founder David Mikkelson. And, he acknowledges, there’s at least one report from the 1920s about a single alligator in a sewer.
Mikkelson talks with Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer about the many myths he’s helped bust, as well as the possible origins of these seemingly far-fetched stories. Listen to their full conversation.