How Zambonis Work

By: Kate Kershner  | 

King of the Rink – and Pop Culture

Want to try sitting behind the wheel of an ice resurfacing machine, too? Click on the text at the top to play.
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There's no getting around it: The Zamboni brand is the King of the Rink. Much like Kleenex, Xerox, Frisbee and Photoshop, Zamboni is now the ubiquitous (if incorrect) term that most of us shout in a gleeful passion when the ice-resurfacing machine lumbers onto the rink mid-game. While newer brands try to claw their way into some market share, the Zamboni name seems to be stuck in the collective psyche.

Although that may seem like a slam-dunk promotional tool for the Zamboni Company, you might be surprised to learn that notoriety is a two-way street.


When the Resurfice Corp. landed the contract to bring its electric resurfacers to the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, Zamboni couldn't have been too pleased to be shunned for the Canadian Resurfice's Olympia brand. But when the Olympia machines malfunctioned (the company cited maintenance issues, not manufacturing flaws), all everyone could talk about was the failure of the ... Zambonis. Oops. (They later trucked in Zamboni-brand machines from Calgary to get the job done.)

The Zamboni Company was quick to send out a release that made sure to note that these were not Zamboni brand machines, but it's easy to see why the company would have a love/hate relationship with being the common term for the product.

But you can't deny that there are some pretty cool references to the Zamboni brand in pop culture. "Peanuts" artist Charles M. Schulz was a hockey enthusiast and owned his own rink in Santa Rosa, Calif. He often name-checked Zambonis (or showed ice resurfacers in general) in the beloved strip featuring Charlie Brown and friends.

A crowning achievement for Frank J. Zamboni no doubt came in 2013 when Google paid tribute to the man and his invention in a Google Doodle. (The Google Doodles are artistic interpretations of Google's logo seen on its web pages.) This doodle was a playable game, where hockey players come out of the graphic to scratch the ice with frantic skating. Using the keyboard to direct the machine, you become the Zamboni driver who must resurface all the ice to a clean polish. The doodle came in honor of what would've been Zamboni's 112th birthday, on Jan. 16, 2013.

Author's Note: How Zambonis Work

Although vaguely aware that Zamboni was a person, I found myself charmed by the can-do legend of Frank J. Zamboni. It's rare to find an inventor, manufacturer and businessman who is successful in all ventures, and you can't help appreciating his determination to create the right machine for his own rink. A man who is well-deserving of his doodle.

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