A contemporary cultural look at hot tub history


For health and happiness, people have been bathing in hot water for thousands of years. In fact, the very first hot tub was said to have been manually chiselled out of solid granite in around 600BC for King Phraortes of ancient Persia.

Following on from him, the ancient Greeks and Romans continued to champion the therapeutic qualities of water. Their skills led to elaborate and extravagant structures being built around natural water springs, sometimes even creating thermal bath’s and the world’s earliest health-spa’s in the process.

But in terms of the modern hot tub, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that spas were designed and developed en masse for domestic use. Most credit goes to a brother of the Jacuzzi family, who made a pump that could submerge in a bathtub to provide pain-relieving hydrotherapy treatments for his ailing son.

The whole spa idea soon snowballed and before long, hot tubs were being manufactured with in-built jets and pumps as well as dedicated control and cleaning systems.

Hot Spring-Highlife-2012-Detail-Quarter Jet


But what part did contemporary culture play in the timeline of hot tub history?

Saturday Night Live (1983)

Even though US TV show Saturday Night Live has helped launch the careers of many famous celebrities, the worldwide fame of Eddie Murphy is perhaps its single biggest success story. Just when this comedian-come-actor was entering the mainstream, he appeared on the prime time show impersonating James Brown and his apparent love of hot tubs.

Along with an almost uncannily identical voice to the Godfather of Soul, Murphy also delivered a comedic performance that promoted hot tubs in an entertaining and enjoyable light. It might not have increased sales overnight, but the fact hot tubs were being associated with pre-eminent stars certainly did the industry no harm, even if the sketch was rather tongue-in-cheek! Good enough for the Godfather of Soul? Good enough for you and me!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, we see a teenage upstart skipping school in order to make the most of his time as a carefree adolescent. Throughout the film, Bueller wants to experience the finer things in life, such as dining in fancy restaurants and driving the Ferrari owned by his best friend Cameron’s dad.

In one scene, we see Bueller relaxing in an outdoor hot tub of a suburban home before saving Cameron from pretending to drown. It might have gone unnoticed at the time by many viewers, but this kind of luxury household feature was quickly becoming an easily attainable dream for many Americans and Europeans.

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

Fast forward a quarter of a century and the hot tub now takes centre-stage at the very heart of a Hollywood Blockbuster film. Although perhaps somewhat far-fetched, Hot Tub Time Machine follows a group of friends who accidently spill a drink on the console of a hot tub, which inadvertently turns it into a time machine.

Strangely enough they all went back in time to 1986 with hilarious consequences. It was judged good enough to spawn a sequel movie, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 released just last year, in 2015!

It would be quite a stretch to assume that new owners have bought their hot tub in the hope of travelling back in time. However, it does prove that hot tubs are now an accepted part of society, which possess the potential to provide a great deal of happiness to people, as well as bringing various wonderful health benefits into their lives too!

No doubt it has all turned out just as the forefathers of hydrotherapy would have wanted.