July 31, 2007

Zippo's 75th Anniversary
— Dave In Texas

The American "windproof" lighter, the Zippo lighter was created by George G. Blaisdell in a garage in Bradford, Pennsylvania in 1932.


He learned about the little chimney thingy from a friend's clumsy Austrian model that required two hands, and designed the lighter that has remained substantially unchanged since.

Except for the Jim Beam logos and such.

Anybody who's ever tried to light a Marlboro on the front nine knows what I'm talkin about.. you can't get it done with a Bic.

I hate golf. Have I mentioned that before?

Anyway you can find out more about Zippos here.

I'll bet James "Scotty" Doohan was carrying a Zippo on D-Day. That's what I'll bet.

Posted by: Dave In Texas at 06:07 PM | Comments (45)
Post contains 119 words, total size 1 kb.

1 I bet William "Kirk" Shatner was carrying one on D-Day too.  Ok, he was 13 and living in Canada at the time, but I bet he still carried one!

I kept learning things about Doohan that made me respect him more.  He was at Normandy on D-Day, he fathered a child at 78, etc.....  Great man, great man.

Posted by: MikeTheLibrarian at July 31, 2007 06:17 PM (YOkYJ)

2 I hated the loss of ever zippo, I actually have rather bizarre story about it, but I have been way too yappy this evening.

Posted by: Wickedpinto at July 31, 2007 06:20 PM (QTv8u)


I carried a black Zippo back in the day. Then I wised up and figured out the Surgeon General wasn't as big a dumbass as I'd been led to believe. Not much need for a lighter once I gave up the cigarettes.


I guess I could still burn things like the leprechaun tells me to do.

Posted by: digitalbrownshirt at July 31, 2007 06:26 PM (/rgAZ)


Come on Dave, get in there, really push the story's boundries.

"Ok... Ok... Mr. Petrelli, are you gay?"

*Gets shot by the mob boss*

Posted by: TheEJS at July 31, 2007 06:26 PM (qN+aI)

5 I should grab a Zippo, but I rarely smoke.  Just the occasional cigar.  Which I might have to pick up when my blog hits the big 10K.

Any excuse to celebrate.

Posted by: sinistar at July 31, 2007 06:37 PM (lMR62)

6 I am kind of a lighter guy... I smoke stogies... I have a little McGyver in me, where I feel I need to carry a torch just in case - you know when Mr. T gives me the signal to light that fuse <wink>.  Seriously, out on the trail, you need a good dependable way to start your backpacking stove.  The Zippo always wins hands-down.  I have bought and been gifted with all sorts of butane lighters.  All of those fancy butane torches cease to function after about 6 months.  And yes, I dropped some serious coin on a ST. Dupont lighter, that  lasted about 3 months.  But those Zippo's are the work horse.  I have Zippo's with the $10 butane inserts and they outlast any of the $300 St. Duponts.  I also have the LED inserts for my Zippo's that guide me through the night and past the TSA screeners.  And yes, I even have those Austrian lighters that Zippo replaced.  Zippo is an American creation, made from the era in Americana where ingenuity in the states was the Zenith. 

Posted by: sergei at July 31, 2007 06:38 PM (9fSFQ)

7 Even for a nonsmoker, a Zippo is a stylish way to make fire.

Posted by: George guy at July 31, 2007 06:38 PM (eWkFC)

8 And they're still made in the USA.

Posted by: Don Carne at July 31, 2007 06:51 PM (wSNS7)

9 I'd like to get my lips round the butt end of a flaming fag!

Posted by: km at July 31, 2007 07:14 PM (ZeIkZ)

10 That's a cigarette joke, not a gay joke. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Well, actually, there would be something wrong with that.

Posted by: km at July 31, 2007 07:15 PM (ZeIkZ)


Zippo rocks.

Large pic file! jpg link to the Zippo II from the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise (2004)

Posted by: USCitizen at July 31, 2007 07:20 PM (HwVwZ)

12 I love my Zippo.

My then-future-wife gave it to me before I joined up.We're both giving up the cig habit this Fall. She's quittin' cold, I'm moving on to cigars and a pipe. The Zippo stays. Period. That's just the way things are.

Posted by: Kadnine at July 31, 2007 07:23 PM (9AJic)

13 Citizen, that picture is now desktop wallpaper. Thanks.

Posted by: Kadnine at July 31, 2007 07:35 PM (9AJic)


Since college I've carried a Zippo with a certain sentimental value.

I've never smoked a cigarette, but very occasionally it comes in handy for spontaneous acts of gallantry.  Rarely use it, but it's just part of the mass of stuff I shove into my pockets in the morning.

Now, from a functional perspective, I hate the thing and if I had to rely on it to smoke cigarettes, it would inspire me to quit.  I fill it with lighter fluid and three days later it's dry and sparking. 

And that's embarrassing when I try to warm up that special someone's bent freebasing spoon.

Posted by: See-Dubya at July 31, 2007 07:38 PM (DbZC0)

15 Heh.

Posted by: sinistar at July 31, 2007 07:39 PM (lMR62)

16 PS km:  that's disgusting.  I bet you'd be much happier enjoying some hot juicy delicious game hen.

Posted by: See-Dubya at July 31, 2007 07:43 PM (DbZC0)


Completely O/T:

Just finished watching "Analyze This" for the 30th time.  Does anyone else think that the daughter in the church in the Tommy Angel funeral scene looks like Jessica Alba -- albeit a very young Jessica Alba -- but Jessica Alba nonetheless?

Number of ejaculations typing "Jessica Alba" three four times:  6.5

Posted by: Paulitics at July 31, 2007 08:01 PM (47+Ys)

18 I'll bet James "Scotty" Doohan was carrying a Zippo on D-Day. That's what I'll bet.

Interesting note: During WW2, Germans discovered the dependable
Zippo, and soon began to use the strange new word (Zippo) to
describe sherman tanks.

The sherman was lighly armored, and when hit by an 88 shell from a
panzer, it was said by the germans to be "guaranteed to ignite on the
first try"

Posted by: Yankee Division Son at July 31, 2007 08:25 PM (+fUA6)


Sherman was nicknamed "Ronson" cause like the cigarette lighter, it lite on the first try every time. Bad storage place for Ammo, plus the (initially) week back armor covering fuel.

Posted by: TheEJS at July 31, 2007 08:40 PM (qN+aI)

20 I've still got the first Zippo I ever bought, back before I even smoked.  I just wanted one.  I was 14 or 15 at the time, so I've had it for 16 or 17 years now.  And one of the coolest things about Zippos is that if they ever break, you can send them in to Bradford, PA, and they'll fix it for free and send it back to you, good as new.

Mine's a Venetian, by the way.

Posted by: Sean M. at July 31, 2007 10:17 PM (XFqvL)

21 Ah, the Sherman. Fueled with gasoline, not diesel. High profile. Lightly armored. Undergunned. Ammo rack placed where it was easily hit. They were so bad, the Soviets wouldn't use them: said they were f'ing death traps.

The rule of thumb was that it would take three to four Shermans to knock out one Panzer. Tanks were one area where the Army failed, big-time.

Posted by: Brown Line at August 01, 2007 02:22 AM (50X/W)

22 Dear Brown Line,

We did win the war, after all.  The Brits were free to win the war with the Matilda if they pleased.  Most tanks did not mount 88s and till later in the war the Sherman did fine.  Sure it was not perfect.  OTOH, it was there.

Now on to a more important topic:

Dave in Texas, you smoke filters?  Not a real cigarette like Pall Mall or Lucky Strike or Camel or heaven help us Chesterfield?  Players Navy Cut or English Ovals maybe? 

Or...ooh, you'll cry...KOOL non-filters!  Now that was a guilty pleasure.

DiT, filters, tchaah!  I thought they were anti-ghey on this blog.

Posted by: nichevo at August 01, 2007 03:12 AM (Ak+g8)

23 Oh, and

What butane inserts?!?  It must be confessed that the one vice of a Zippo is that it will eventually run dry.  Sounds interesting.

Posted by: nichevo at August 01, 2007 03:13 AM (Ak+g8)


Back when I had a radio show, people would say that they always knew when I was lighting up by the distinctive *chink!* sound of my Zippo.

I kept learning things about Doohan that made me respect him more

Don't forget that he hated Shatner's guts until the day he died.

Posted by: Beppo at August 01, 2007 03:21 AM (Ka5Jh)

25 "Most tanks did not mount 88s and till later in the war the Sherman did fine. Sure it was not perfect. OTOH, it was there."

Yes, it was there. And yes, we won the war. But the Sherman was still a piece of crap that got a lot of good men killed needlessly.

Posted by: Brown Line at August 01, 2007 03:37 AM (50X/W)


The first time I swiped cigarettes was from my uncle Oscar, who smoked filterless Camels.

I had to crawl to the bathroom to puke.

Posted by: Dave in Texas at August 01, 2007 03:49 AM (KOnQh)


Now, from a functional perspective, I hate the thing and if I had to rely on it to smoke cigarettes, it would inspire me to quit.  I fill it with lighter fluid and three days later it's dry and sparking.

I had the same problem. My Zippo would run dry every two days. After about three months, the flint broke. I tossed my Zippo in the garbage and went back to Bic.

Posted by: adolfo_velasquez at August 01, 2007 04:01 AM (Ywp6f)

28 Yea Zippo! - torching innocent peasant houses for 75 years.

Posted by: Typical Fucking Moonbat at August 01, 2007 04:17 AM (0d45V)


I think the Ronson advertising line was, "lights the first time, every time."

Yeah, the Tommy cookers' Shermans' strength was that U.S., Canadian and British factories cranked out tons of them (IIRC a 7:1 ratio contrasted with German production) and they were alot more mechanically reliable than the Germans'. It helped when upgunned versions like the Firefly came into production and purposefully-made tank destroyers, like the Priest, began being fielded by the Western Allies.

Still, they were a step up from the Lee/Grant that the Soviets called a "coffin for seven brothers" when they began getting our castoffs through Lend-Lease. (They did fine in the Pacific, however, because the Japanese tanks were alot lighter than ours.)

Funny how going to war with 'the equipment you have and not what you want' wasn't a problem with the MSM back then. I guess it helps when there's a Democratic Congress and Executive.

Posted by: andycanuck at August 01, 2007 04:21 AM (LziXg)


Zippo is coming out with a 'Blu Flame' lighter. Uses Butane gas instead of lighter fluid. I think I will buy one. I have stopped smoking, but Zippos are teh cool.

Anyone ever used a Zippo hand warmer? Are they any good?

Posted by: Tushar D at August 01, 2007 05:14 AM (IlgNp)

31 Anyone want to chip in and buy one of these for Ace? 

Posted by: Phinn at August 01, 2007 05:25 AM (DiZv6)

32 Of course, this one might be more his speed.  Never can tell with that guy. 

Posted by: Phinn at August 01, 2007 05:26 AM (DiZv6)

33 It's really too bad that Zippo is losing 30% of it's business to Chinese knock-offs.   They've also been sued several times when malfunctioning knock-offs injured or killed users who didn't realize they'd bought a fake.  They've been aggressively pursuing the counterfeiters for over seven years with about as little success as you can imagine (read latter half of the Forbes article).

I think it's admirable that Zippo is trying to preserve American jobs and branding, but they are swimming upstream on this one.  The trend - led by big-box giants and their indiscriminate customers - is toward cheap, disposable, unregulated, and dangerous manufactured goods out of China.  For instance, 80% of Wal-Mart's products are now made in China. (I wonder how Ronald Reagan would react to knowing  how much American money is funneled into Communist China?  Just think of it...)

Sorry...hope that last doesn't hijack the thread.  But I sincerely hope that Zippo - an American icon - can make it.  Buy Zippo!  Buy American! 

Posted by: Warwitch at August 01, 2007 06:12 AM (QAMZg)

34 I own 3 Zippos. The first one I bought was one with a picture of the USCG ship I was stationed on, I have another of an obscure Coastie LORAN Station and I am currently using one with my initials on it. I love them, even though you have to fill them up every week. And they still light in the wind.

Posted by: Mr Minority at August 01, 2007 06:21 AM (NJi0O)

35 Phinn, I would chip in to buy him the Funky Cat/Pink Matte lighter. Real men have cat Zippos.

Posted by: PattyAnn at August 01, 2007 06:35 AM (t+FKE)

36 This is what I meant by the Zippo butane insert:
<a href="http://www.elighters.com/zplus.html">Butane Insert</a>

You swap out the original insert with the wick, lighter fluid supply, flint and insert the Z-Plus butane insert.  No modification at all  - it works. 

I don't know about you guys that complaining about the regular fuel lasting only 3 days.  Maybe the smaller slim size does last a few days.  But I can make my full size Zippo last about 10 days. 

On another note, I love my butane inserts ... but at altitudes greater than about 4500 feet, the butane performance suffers.  Above 7K, butane doesn't work.  So the good old reliable naptha fuel (lighter fluid) works everywhere.

Posted by: sergei at August 01, 2007 06:59 AM (NzupZ)


Wow, I can smell the lighter fluid just by looking at the picture.  Takes me back to when I used to play with my Dad's zippo that he left on his desk in the den.  It was so awesome.

When I was 18 and smoked, I bought a slim refillable lighter, about the size of a cigarette so it fit into my cigarette pack, just so I could light up and have the complete flint and lighter fluid experience.

Posted by: Ruth at August 01, 2007 07:24 AM (OfFMv)


D in T #26--

When I was three years old, I went fishing with my grandad and his archetypal Old Fishing Buddy.  Said OFB gave me a little pinch of his Red Man chewing tobacco.

Never had any desire to chew since then, even for the sake of shocking the squares at the Academy for Fancy Lads.

Posted by: see-dubya at August 01, 2007 08:53 AM (+TdwW)


Me and my cousins got into Uncle Oscar's chew when I was about 8 or 9, it was one of those "brick" things, you chewed off a hunk.  And we got sicker than hell, so we went and drank a bunch of cool water from their well.  This is something like pouring kerosene on a fire.  We were all laying on the porch moaning and groaning, and my poor Aunt Florence came out and freaked.. thought we had all eaten rat poison.  She jumped in the pickup and drove through the corn to go get my uncle.

He walked up to the 3 of us, and asked Willie (the oldest) "did you smoke it or chew it" and he wailed "we cheeeewed it".  He just got in the truck and left.

Aunt Florence was so upset she started whippin all three of us, Rembert while he was puking off the porch.  I remember her crying.

Anyway, my first and last experience with chewing tobacky.

Posted by: Dave in Texas at August 01, 2007 10:19 AM (KOnQh)


Over the last 40 years I have found several ways to determine if a man claiming to be exMarine is in fact that. One is does he have his Zippo with him? I have never know a Marine that did not have a Zippo. They always worked even in the Monsoons of Nam!

an old exJarhead

Posted by: Rodney A Stanton at August 01, 2007 10:32 AM (Y/s+o)


Back in the day, fuel was never a problem.  The gas tank on a WWII Jeep was under the drivers seat and the filler cap was by your left hand.  Whilst fueling, you jerked out the works, dipped the empty bottom in the tank, it came back full of 100 octane, replace the works and once again light up another Lucky.  PC hysterics and safety Nazis would certainly get alarmed over this procedure today.

The biggest danger was putting the whole freshly filled lighter in your pants pocket and suffering gasoline burns on your leg, or worse ........

So here we are, over a six decades later still lighting the smokes.  I managed to light several on both nines this a.m.with a Bic.  Even though I am older than Zippo I am not totally averse to modern devices.  Yeah, I know, those cigs'll kill me, but they are sure as hell taking their time about it.


Posted by: Cec Moon at August 01, 2007 11:00 AM (e48LF)



You dodged a bullet in the in-Texas family naming ritual, Dave.

Posted by: see-dubya at August 01, 2007 01:50 PM (+TdwW)

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