Genuine Zippo Lighters
George G. Blaisdell founded Zippo Manufacturing Company in 1932, and produced the first Zippo lighter
in early 1933, being inspired by an Austrian cigarette lighter of similar design made by IMCO. It got its
name because Blaisdell liked the sound of the word "zipper" and "zippo" sounded more modern. On
March 3, 1936, patent was granted for the Zippo lighter.
Zippo lighters became popular in the United States military, especially during World War II — when, as
the company's Web site says, Zippo "ceased production of lighters for consumer markets and dedicated
all manufacturing to the U.S. military." The Zippo at that time was made of brass, but as this commodity
was unobtainable due to the war, Zippo used steel during the war years. While the Zippo Manufacturing
Company never had an official contract with the military, soldiers and armed forces personnel insisted
that Base exchange (BX) and Post exchange (PX) stores carry this sought-after lighter. While it had
previously been common to have Zippos with authorized badges, unit crests and division insignia, it
became popular among the American soldiers of the Vietnam War, to get their Zippos engraved with
personal mottos. These lighters are now sought after collectors items and popular souvenirs for visitors
After World War II, the Zippo lighter became increasingly used in advertising by companies large and
small through the 1960s. Many of the early advertising Zippo lighters are works of art painted by hand,
and as technology has evolved, so has the design and finish of the Zippo lighter. The basic mechanism
of the Zippo lighter has remained unchanged.
In 2002 Zippo expanded its product line to include a variety of utility-style multi-purpose lighters, known
as the Zippo MPL. This was followed in 2005 with the Outdoor Utility Lighter, known as the OUL. These
lighters are fueled with butane. In August 2007 Zippo released a new butane lighter called the Zippo BLU.
A museum called Zippo/Case visitors center is located in Bradford, Pennsylvania at 1932 Zippo Drive.
This 15,000 square foot building contains rare and custom made Zippo lighters, and also sells the
entire Zippo line. The museum was featured on the NPR program Weekend Edition Sunday on January
25, 2009. The museum also contains an enormous collection of Case knives. Since the Zippo
company's 60th anniversary in 1992, annual editions have been produced for worldwide Zippo collectors.
From 1949 to 2002 Zippos were also produced in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Since 1933, over
500,000,000 Zippo lighters have been produced.
In 2009, Zippo announced plans to purchase Ronson Consumer Products Corporation, a long-time
competitor in the lighter market. On February 3, 2010, the deal was finalized.
March 2011: Due to significant decrease of sales from 18 million lighters a year in the mid-1990s to
about 12 million lighters this year, combined with increasing pressure on people not to smoke, Zippo
Manufacturing Co. decided to try offering a wider variety of products using Zippo brands, such as
watches, leisure clothing and eau de cologne. This strategy is similar to the success Victorinox Swiss
Army Brands Inc. has had selling watches, luggage, clothing and fragrance.
June 5, 2012: The company manufactured its 500,000,000th lighter as well as celebrated its 80th