The history of the ZIPPO lighter

All you need to know about the origins of the famous ZIPPO brand of lighters

It all began in 1932. Georges Blaisdell, an inventor, observed one of his friends using a rather clever but impractical Austrian lighter because it was very bulky. This practical lighter works even in strong winds thanks to its flame protected by a small chimney. Unfortunately, this petrol lighter is not aesthetically pleasing and its ignition system is tedious because it requires the use of both hands! G.Blaisdell then had the idea of taking inspiration from it to create his own lighter. The ZIPPO adventure begins! The Zippo lighter is a compact petrol lighter that can be used with one hand and has a flame protected from the wind.

What makes it special? A lifetime guarantee. At any time, you can send your Zippo lighter back to the factory to be repaired, regardless of its condition. Provided, of course, that you have your warranty card with you.

Until the 1940s, the Zippo lighter was mainly used for advertising purposes. From 1941 and the entry of the United States into the war, the Zippo factory stops production for the general public to equip American soldiers. Production will resume its normal course at the end of the war.

In the 1950s, Zippo became more modern and wanted to win over a new clientele: women. The Zippo Slim lighter was launched. A feminine, elegant and slimmer Zippo.

Zippo Slim, the ideal lighter to offer

1955, beginning of the Vietnam War. Classic Zippo are then distributed to the G.I. to accompany them during this event. Soldiers use them to engrave their sorrows and hopes... These Zippo are now real collector's lighters and are sold at gold price at auctions, just like the famous Venitian Z ippo or the Zippo Gold.

Towards the end of the 80s, the Zippo brand, which was a dazzling success, reached the record mark of 200 million lighters manufactured! The brand's first model, the Zippo 1932, was reissued under the name "Zippo 1932 Replica".

Since the end of the 1990s, it has been possible to buy a Zippo lighter in any colour or design! The Zippo is the ideal gift for smokers and comes in a multitude of models for enthusiasts. The Zippo football for the passionate footballers, the Zippo Harley Davidson for the fans of the first hour or the Zippo Jack Daniels for the lovers of Whisky...

Zippo : The 100% American lighter

To this day, ZIPPO lighters are made entirely in the USA, in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The factory produces an average of 12 million pieces per day!

An important place in the history of cinema

In the history of cinema, the famous lighter has a very important place. Many of us remember particularly memorable scenes involving a Zippo... From low-budget films to American blockbusters, the Zippo lighter has made a notable appearance in more than 2000 films. From John Travolta's Zippo in Pulp Fiction to the Terminator's in the famous explosive final scene of the film, the famous storm lighter with the legendary "click" is an accessory with a huge impact, often even revealing the character's personality, as in Die Hard, where the character played by Bruce Willis never separates from his favourite lighter. 

Important dates in ZIPPO history

1932 : Invention of the Zippo

The ZIPPO story began in 1932 when the American George Blaisdell noticed that one of his Austrian friends was having difficulty handling his bulky petrol lighter. Finding its operation ingenious, particularly its flame system protected by a chimney, G. Blaisdell decided to take inspiration from it and modernise it to create his own lighter. The ZIPPO was born.

1950: Time for modernization

In order to appeal to a wider customer base, especially women, Zippo launches the production and marketing of the Zippo Slim, as well as more luxurious models such as the Zippo in solid gold.

Vietnam War Vietnam Zippo, the lighter given to American soldiers

In order to let the American soldiers express their pain and anguish, the Zippo brand decided to offer each of them a classic, plain Zippo lighter so that they could personalise it by engraving. Today, personalised and customised Zippos are true collectors' items and some models dating from the Second World War are sold at a premium.

1970: Launch of the biggest successes of the American brand

The beginning of the 1970s marked a turning point in the history of the brand with the launch of highly successful models such as the Zippo Venetian or the Zippo Golden range.

1988: The 200 million Zippo manufactured is reached.

To celebrate the 200 million Zippo's manufactured, the brand is relaunching the production of a replica of the famous Zippo 1932, the date of the creation of the petrol lighter.

1990: A more fun and colourful range of Zippo's

In the 1990s, more modern and colourful models appeared such as the Zippo Pin up or some more targeted models such as the Zippo fisherman or the Zippo biker .

In 1997 the ZIPPO museum was created in the American city of Bradford.

2005: Release date of the first gas-powered Zippo lighter: The Zippo Blu

Born from a partnership with cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris, which was launching a new range of cigarettes at the same time, the Zippo Blu lighter was a great commercial failure. With finishes more than approximate and many technical problems, this Zippo refilling with a gas refill and not gasoline, struggles to convince. The story could have ended there, but the American company persists and unveils, 2 years later, a highly improved version.

2010: Launch of the "Outdoor" range

The Zippo company markets the hand warmer as well as a complete outdoor range. The Zippo hand warmer runs on petrol like lighters.
The brand also launches its first flexible lighter of the "gas lighter" type. The Zippo flexible gas lighter is a practical lighter for lighting candles, gas cookers, barbecues, etc.

2019: Johnny Hallyday tribute collection

Two years after the death of the singer Johnny Hallyday, Zippo is launching a tribute collection of 7 models and a collector's box containing all 7 models.

2021 : Launch of an eco-responsible range in collaboration with WOODCHUCK USA

Zippo has teamed up with WOODCHUCK USA, a manufacturer of premium quality wooden objects. As part of the "Buy One, Plant One" campaign, a tree is planted for every Woodchuck lighter purchased.
The Woodchuck wooden Zippo is an elegant combination of metal and real laser-cut wood.

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