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I'm sitting in the Hofbräuhaus in Munich and just noticed that the signs for the bathroom are a symbol of a man and woman with a "00".

Hofbräuhaus restroom sign, showing a woman, a man, and '00'

Why is this the case?

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    I'm tempted to say its the noughty room, but that pun only works in English. – Criggie Jun 24 '16 at 0:11
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    It might be worth noting that this is not the most commonly used term/symbol for bathrooms in Germany. I've never actually seen it on a sign (although I've heard people call it that, mostly people one or two generations older than me). Most signs will say "WC" or simply "Toiletten" or will just use the woman/man pictograms. (This may differ across various German regions though.) – Martin Ender Jun 24 '16 at 11:09
  • For some reason many explanations I found tell you that this is used all over Europe but in my experience there are really few such signs. – neo Jun 24 '16 at 13:04
  • It actually says "Pooh" but someone has vandalised the P and H. – Graham Borland Jun 24 '16 at 23:56
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    @GrahamBorland: Pooh is for bears. Poo and Poop are for toilets. – hippietrail Aug 11 '16 at 9:15
66

According to the legend this tradition was started by hotels in the 19th century. Unlike today there was a single bathroom for a whole floor. This room was at the beginning of the hallway and not a real guest room. Hoteliers therefore used the room number "00".

Other common explanations include the shape of an opened toilet seat but as far as I know that question has not been finally settled yet. The hotel explanation seems like the most likely one.

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    If anyone knows a better source than a dictionary, articles by public broadcasters, or web forums I will be grateful to hear. My (not so long) search for some trustworthy books was unsuccessful. – neo Jun 23 '16 at 19:12
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    The urban legend I mostly heard was that it was started by people ordering the same amount of digits for the doors, but since they did not write 1,2,3 as 01, 02, 03 etc. they had too many 0s left, and thus used them for these doors on the floor... – PlasmaHH Jun 24 '16 at 11:44
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    @neo: German Wikipedia also lists the "hotel" story; albeit unsourced. – DevSolar Jun 24 '16 at 12:59
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    @DevSolar Yes that's the story you can find everywhere. However it looks like they all copy each other and I don't know where this originally came from. Maybe I have some time this weekend to try and track this down. – neo Jun 24 '16 at 13:03
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    @neo: Sifting through the talk archive of abovementioned WP article, there is indeed a source: The 1931 movie "Emil and the Detectives" shows a character having room number 9, with the toilet numbered 00 at the same place of the door as the guest room (minutes 42 to 46 into the movie). That looks good enough for me (if true, I don't have the movie at hand). – DevSolar Jun 24 '16 at 13:05
6

The German children’s show die Sendung mit der Maus once talked about that. Their explanation was:

Weil da 0 arbeiten und 0 wohnen.

Because 0 work there and 0 live there.

I am aware that the explanation is a little sketchy but it was broadcasted on national TV so …

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    This sounds more like a memory hook than like an explanation. – O. R. Mapper Jun 25 '16 at 10:49
-8

It's an outhouse

Flushing toilets are marked WC

Non flushing toilets like outhouses, porta pottys and shitholes in general are marked as 00

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    Not likely in a main beer house in the city. Do you have any proof? – Willeke Jun 24 '16 at 18:11
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    WC = Wasserkloset (water closet) – mvw Jun 24 '16 at 19:27
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    Plain wrong. Whether a toilet has a flush or not is irrelevant; it can be pointed to with 00 in either case. (Also, it is very rare to find non-flush toilets in guest places in Germany.) – Jan Jun 24 '16 at 22:00
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    While "WC" does stand for water closet and thus refers to flushed toilets, that doesn't mean that a toilet labelled otherwise is non-flushed. – das-g Jun 24 '16 at 22:09

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