The inspiration behind one of America’s modern icons – the Zippo – was an Austrian cigarette lighter. One day, George Blaisdell encountered a friend attempting to use an awkward-looking cigarette lighter. Although the lighter was difficult to use, it worked well in windy conditions.
Blaisdell obtained US distribution rights to the windproof lighter, but the design proved to be to difficult to use. Frustrated, Blaisdell redesigned the lighter – founding the Zippo company soon afterward, in 1932.
Over 325 million windproof lighters later, the design remains almost unchanged. The Zippo has remained useful over many years, and in many countries around the globe.
Each Zippo is backed by a lifetime guarantee. Since the 30’s, lighters have been replaced or fixed for free, with no charge to the owner.
The Zippo company also produces other products, including pipe lighters, Multi-Purpose Lighters, money clips, key rings, pocket knives, and tape measures.
During World War II, the popularity of the Zippo skyrocketed. American soldiers have continued using the lighter in many conflicts, and for many purposes.
Zippos are one of the most popular collectible items. For many years, commemorative designs have been produced, honoring the Civil War, space exploration, past presidents, and more.
Each year, small productions of collectible designs are released, incorporating pop culture icons. Some recent designs include the Beatles, Playboy, Harley Davidson, and NFL club badges.
The Zippo is probably one of the most recognized props on screen, used in over 1000 films. A special Zippo design was created for use in the Indiana Jones movies. That familiar “click” has been used on-screen for starting fires, lighting cigarettes, and igniting passionate affairs.
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