What the jiggins is an Osokool?

“Do you want milk in your tea?” “Yes please.” “I’ll just get it out of the fridge…hang on there is no such thing as a fridge. Where do we keep the milk!??”
Nowadays we struggle to comprehend how people existed without a smartphone but if you really, really think about it such a life is possible. But how did people cope without a fridge? It seems impossible especially during the summer but until the times when everyone got their hands on a fridge people did just that. It was surprisingly later than you might think even though commercial fridges were available by the First World War. Anyone who was well off enough to have a garage would just store milk and other fresh produce there but what if you didn’t have a garage? There was always the dreaded outside toilet but does anyone really fancy consuming something that’s been sitting in there for a day or two?

One thing people did was shop every day. In them times, there were shops everywhere and people rarely went into town. Instead they would visit the local butcher, dairy or greengrocer every single day. When I say `people` of course I mean wives. Women did all the housework back then because men worked 25 hours a day in smoggy factories apparently or so they claimed. Women on the other hand did not generally have jobs and had to do loads of unnecessary housework like cleaning the outside step. Even shopping daily though you still presumably had to store milk, cheese etc somewhere unless you ate it all in one massive gluttonathon. So allow me to introduce the Osokool.
Yes, this a real thing, I’m not making it up (even though it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page). Yes, the name is just the phrase “Oh so cool” stitched together and spelt wrongly. An Osokool was essentially a fridge without any wires or switches or a little light that comes on when you open the door. So you’re thinking- “well that just sounds like a box to me” and in essence it was albeit a permeable box.
The top was made of chalk and had a sort of indentation into which you poured cold water. The natural evaporative effect of the wet chalk meant that the warmer it was outside the box the more the water on top evaporated leaving the internal temperature the same. Or so a scientist from the past says. Leaving it in a garage or pantry also helped. They became popular in the 1950s and 1960s even when fridges were available because they were much cheaper.
Amazingly you can still buy vintage Osokools online; they seem particularly popular with boat owners. You can get them for around £120- £150. Boats are probably more expensive.
An Osokool, yesterday


  1. Your puny Osokool is no match for our mighty Kraal Refrigeration Unit!

  2. You're on the wrong blog, matey. The Doctor Who stuff is on Time Lines. Unless you're the Hon. Henry Styggron,MP in which case I apologise and `doff` my cap.

  3. At last I have found someone who knows what an OSOKOOL is! My grandparents had one when I was little and until now I had never come across anyone else who knew about them. My Mum inherited the OSOKOOL and used it for storing opened tins of cat food until well into the 1980s.

  4. My gran had one who lived in Buxton Derbyshire