We Used To Have An Ice Rink Made Of Smelly Pig Fat

The world's first artificial rink didn't attract fans for long.
We Used To Have An Ice Rink Made Of Smelly Pig Fat

Humans have been skating on ice for so long, we don't even have records of when we first started. It looks like people were skating in Finland thousands of years ago. It took about 5,000 more years to invent skates with blades, however (we didn't say ancient Finns skated very well), and even then, skating was limited. We could only skate in the winter. No one knew how to freeze water to make ice rinks.

Then in 1844, in the warm month of June, London opened the world's first artificial ice rink. Refrigerators of a sort existed by this point, but they hadn't quite scaled the technology up to freeze an entire floor of water reliably into ice. So this rink, called the Glaciarium, used a substitute for ice: pig fat, mixed with salt. 

It looked very nice. Thanks to decorations, the rink really did look like a frozen lake. But it didn't smell like a lake. It smelled like, well, pig fat. Unrefrigerated pig fat in the month of June. 

Even the opportunity to engage in "the graceful and manly pastime of skating," as ads put it, didn't convince people to put up with the smell for long. The Glaciarium quickly went out of business. 

London's next rink took another 30 years to open and used real ice, made through a then-new process involving glycerine and nitrogen peroxide. This in turn gave way to modern rinks, which don't smell anything like pig fat. They just smell of sweaty hockey pads, cherry chewing gum, and blood, comforting scents that let you know all is well. 

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For more old-fashioned sports, see also:

5 Old-Timey Rules Sports Should Bring Back Immediately

7 Old Pictures That Prove Sports Used To Be Insane

5 Ridiculous Sports You Won't Believe Were Olympic Events

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Top image: Illustrated London News

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