Zippo Articles

How Zippo Started

By Carl Wall

The Zippo company originated in a small Pennsylvania town during the depression, at a time when the United States was indeed struggling. Zippo's success was created through innovation and a lot of hard work, through the creation of a durable yet still very functional product, a very effective marketing campaign that includes a lifetime warranty. What happened was one night in 1932 there was a dinner held at the country club in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Attending the dance was one George G. Blaisdell. George was currently trying to think of a new way to create a bit of income during this rough time in our Nation's history.

Up until this night Mr. Blaisdell had not been able to figure a way of generating more money. During the dinner he took a break to go have a smoke out on the balcony. There he found a friend of his trying to light up a cigarette. His friend had pulled out his lighter to light his cigarette. In doing so Blaisdell noticed his friend's lighter was very tattered and looking a bit worse for wear. Almost in a chuckle, Blaisdell asked his friend why such and horrible looking lighter when he was dressed up so nice. His friends response sparked a great idea. He friend replied, "it works". Those two words sparked on of the greatest ideas of the time. Blaisedell thought about that all night long. He figured that is exactly what people need in this time inexpensive and durable. After more consideration he realized it was just during rough times people would want this. This was something that would always be sought after. He thought to himself this lighter business is sounds promising!

Blaisdell quickly obtained the rights from an Austrian lighter manufacturer to sell their lighters. In an attempt to improve its appearance, Blaisdell chrome-plated the lid of the lighter and raised the price to one dollar. However, he still could not sell any of these lighters. He discovered that there were far too many defects in the lighter. But that did not deter Blaisdell. He was determined to develop a new lighter that would not fail to light.

He Abandoned the defective Austrian lighter and began work on the soon to be"zippo lighter". Blaisdell rented an office space that he paid $10 a month in rent, hired three people, and began trying to develop his own lighter. He and his team used an electric hot plate for soldering. As money was tight during this time he could not afford new equipment. The total cost of his equipment was $260 at the time. The first thing Blaisdell did was to make the zippo lighter smaller to be able to fit in the palm of the hand, and he incorporated a hinge to hold the lid to the bottom, making it part of the lighter. This enabled the user to be able to open the lighter with just one hand. Blaisdell then utilized the hood design of the previous Austrian lighter and placed a wind hood around the wick.

This new lighter he had created was named "Zippo".

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