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The Story Behind Zippo Lighters

By James Hunt

It’s the king of lighters. No one can deny the allure of Zippo lighters. The distinctive design is instantly recognizable, even as the lighters sport individual and even customized finishes and cases. But where did Zippo lighters begin?

In 1932, George G. Blaisdell founded the Zippo company by manufacturing the famous lighters. He bought the rights to an Austrian lighter, which happened to be windproof. Blaisdell didn’t just want to make windproof lighters; he wanted his lighters to look good as well. And today, Zippo lighters are renowned for their looks.

In order to manufacture good looking lighters, the Austrian design needed to be modified. Blaisdell gave the Zippo its shape, as well as the flip-top cover. Lovers and collectors of Zippo lighters have perfected the art of opening the Zippo with a snazzy flick of the wrist. Some of them even can even light a Zippo while opening it, reducing the process to a single, graceful motion.

A name was needed for the lighters. Blaisdell called his lighter a "Zippo." If it sounds suspiciously similar to the word ‘zipper,’ there’s a reason. The zipper was a relatively new invention at the time, and undeniably cool.

Today there are collectors’ clubs all over the world. People meet to share their love of Zippo lighters and show off their collections. Rare lighters, as well as Zippo lighters customized for celebrities, are routinely auctioned off on the Internet. They are popular even with people who don’t smoke. Zippo lighters are so cool that they are a fashion statement.

From humble beginnings in Bradford, PA, Zippo lighters have grown into the world’s premier and preferred lighter. Millions of people own at least one, and thousands of people collect them. Just owning a Zippo lighter feels good. Windproof and classy. You can’t beat that.

James Hunt has spent 15 years as a professional writer and researcher covering stories that cover a whole spectrum of interest. Read more at

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