And now the episode I’ve wanted to make since I started the show: we’re celebrating the Zamboni! And we’re meeting its inventor, Frank Zamboni, who was born on this day in 1901. Plus: a company calculates out just how long it would take a Zamboni to resurface the greatest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior.
Making Ice Nice Since 1949: A Brief History of the Zamboni (Mental Floss)
It’d take 693 years to resurface Lake Superior with a Zamboni, study says (Detroit Free Press)
Today we’re celebrating the Zamboni!
The legendary driveable ice resurfacing machine is named for its inventor, Frank Zamboni, who was born on this day in 1901.
As Mental Floss explains, the Zamboni family had a long history with ice and refrigeration.
They’d manufactured refrigeration units for farms, and they’d made and sold blocks of ice.
By 1939, they’d opened an ice rink in Paramount, California.
And back then, it took over an hour to maintain the surface of the rink.
A tractor could scrape the ice, but workers had to do the rest themselves.
Frank Zamboni started working on a better way.
The machine he invented could drive onto the ice, shave a thin layer away and collect the shavings.
It would clean the ice and spray a layer of warm water on top, which it would smooth as the water froze into a new layer of ice.
Zamboni patented the machine in 1949, and he figured it would just speed up the work of cleaning and resurfacing ice.
Surprisingly, people liked to watch the machine do that work!
Now the machines are an attraction at hockey games and ice arenas all over the place.
And for the record, Frank Zamboni gave his machine the family name only because his first choice wasn’t available.
But that’s just as well. The Paramount Engineering Company wouldn’t have had the same ring to it, right?
Zambonis tend to stay in the ice rink, but there’s lots of ice out there in the real world that could need resurfacing.
The U.P. Supply Co. decided to calculate out just what it would take to give the Zamboni treatment to the greatest of the great lakes, Lake Superior.
The surface area of the lake is equal to more than 52 million ice rinks.
A Zamboni takes 7 minutes to resurface one rink, so giving Lake Superior the Zamboni would take about 693 years. Time well spent, I’m sure.