10 Amazing Facts About the World’s Most Famous Lighter

A Zippo lighter alight at Havana House

Cigars can’t be smoked without being lit, and one of the best options for lighting a stogie is with a lighter. Before you head over and have a look at some of the best cigar lighters you could want to accompany your cigar collection, we thought we would offer up 10 amazing facts about the famous lighter brand Zippo for you. 

The chances are that you probably either own one or know somebody that does because these lighters are iconic; they work fantastically and haven’t changed over decades since their invention in 1932. People love their dependability and durability, and they just embody a very classic and classy design to suit anyone’s pocket.

Unlike articles found on many forums regarding Zippo lighters and cigars, the Zippo lighter does not taint the flavour of the cigar or pipe tobacco; this only occurs if you overfill the lighter; if you stick to the right amount of fuel you can enjoy your favourite stogie or pipe with this classic piece of kit.

Below are 10 top facts about the iconic Zippo we thought we would share with you:

1. The Zippo Was Originally Inspired By a Clunky Austrian Lighter

The windproof lighter emerged from Bradford, Pennsylvania, in 1932. George Blaisdell was smoking a cigarette on the porch of the Bradford Country Club when a local businessman walked past lighting his cigarette with a bizarre looking lighter, complete with a protective lid. Blaisdell inquired as to why the man was so mad to use such a device, and he simply replied: “well, it works”. So, Blaisdell took the idea upon himself to create what we now know as the Zippo. He named it the Zippo because he liked the word ‘Zipper’, and his first models sold for $1.95 (£1.37) which is around $35 (£24.60) today.

2. Getting Going Took a While

Even though his invention was spectacular, the lighter still needed help to gain monetary momentum during the years of the Great Depression. In 1936, Zippo created an ad for Esquire, but the advisement didn’t work. In fact, the company didn’t see any evidence of increased sales from the ad whatsoever!

3. Fan Test

The fantastic design of the Zippo’s chimney is one of the contributing factures that keeps it alight in the windiest of conditions. Zippo boasted about this by offering up the “the fan test”. They asked consumers to hold the Zippo up to a fan to see if its flame would blow out. Of course, it did not!

4. WWII

The first decade the company struggled with sales, but Zippo still persevered against the odds until a big break happened. Zippo gained a contract with the American Army in WWII; it allowed American troops to purchase the lighters in Army Exchanges and Ship Stores. Soldiers from Zippo’s hometown in McKean County, Pennsylvania were offered the lighters for free. The soldiers took their lighters to the front lines and discovered that the Zippos rugged design, ability to take almost any fuel and windproof ability was well suited in combat situations.

5. The One About the Fish

The Zippo lighters durable design made it a clear favourite amongst soldiers, but post-war, Zippo needed a better scoop to help push sales.

In 1960, a printed ad from Zippo recounted a story about an old retired game keep and fisherman who caught an 18-pound pike; a great feat on its own. However, upon gutting the fish he found a Zippo lodged in the pike’s belly, and to the fisherman’s surprise the lighter lit on the first strike. Fact or fiction? We’re not sure, but we’d love for it to be true!

6. U.S. Made

Every single Zippo lighter is still, to this day, made in a single factory in Pennsylvania employing around 1,000 members of staff. In an age where a lot of production is outsourced to China, it is great to be able to own an item made with such quality still in its hometown.

7. Lifetime Friend

One of the reasons we love Zippo lighters is because of its lifetime warranty. The people at Zippo don’t care whether you bought it in 1937 or 2017, whether you snap the lid off just to test its strength or drop the insert overboard on your boat (we don’t recommend either of these); Zippo will always repair it free of charge. Buyers have taken Zippo up on this offer, and the company has made over eight million repairs to this day.

8. Lifesavers

A Vietnamese war veteran told Zippo that the Zippo his wife gave to him before deployment took a bullet during combat and saved his life. It’s also a fact that in 2010 a man survived being shot by a burglar because the bullet hit the Zippo in his pocket.

9. Frank Sinatra

Ol’ Blue Eyes himself was buried with his beloved Zippo! Not only this, he was also buried with a bottle of Jack Daniels, a packet of cigarettes and some dimes, in case he needs to make a payphone call.

10. Standing the Test of Time

The fantastic piece of kit has been concluded in TIME Magazine as one of the 100 greatest gadgets of all time.

We agree that the Zippo is a fantastic piece of simple engineering that will quite literally last a lifetime. Why not check out our range of Zippos here?

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