Skip to Content
About the Gridiron

Why is a Football Called a “Pigskin”?

Have you ever wondered where the term “pigskin” originated? Out of all the nicknames for a football, pigskin is probably the most popular. But when did the moniker arise? And more importantly, why?

Read on to get answers to these questions and more

History of the Pigskin

It may surprise you to learn that footballs were originally inflated with the bladders of animals, including those from swine. In later years, these animal bladders were placed inside a leather cover, giving rise to the term “pigskin.” The bladder of pig (or another animal) was inflated into more of an oval shape than the familiar pointed tips of today’s game balls.

The process of inflating these early pigskins was fairly distasteful as you might imagine. Straw and other material would oftentimes be stuffed in the pig bladder instead, but this tended to create balls with lumps and strange shapes that made official game play difficult.

Fortunately, blowing up pig bladders fell out of fashion for both pro and recreational football players with the invention of vulcanized rubber in the 1860s.

Invention of Vulcanized Rubber

In 1844, an American engineer and chemist by the name of Charles Goodyear patented his invention of vulcanized rubber – fire-cured natural rubber made more durable with the addition of sulfur. Goodyear’s legacy is still seen today through the popular car tires manufactured by the company named after him.

Shortly after, football aficionados began ditching unpleasant pig bladders for Goodyear’s vulcanized rubber as the preferred material. However, the nickname “pigskin” stuck.

The Modern Football

Ironically, though they are still called “pigskins,” nowadays all pro and collegiate footballs are actually made with cowhide leather. Recreational and youth footballs, on the other hand, are often made with synthetic material or vulcanized rubber.

All Big Game footballs are made of handcrafted cowhide leather. Whether you play on a college, high school, youth, junior or pee wee team, or you’re just interested in tossing the pigskin around in the yard, buying directly from America’s #1 manufacturer of FBS College footballs is the way to go!

The footballs you’ll receive are the same quality used by top college programs all over the country, including LSU, Texas A&M, SMU, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and others.

Browse our website to find out how our leather footballs are made. Also, be sure to check out The Playbook to learn more about this great American sport!

Comments are closed.

Back to top