Monday, January 14, 2013
Made In The USA – Zippo Lighters
The story of Zippo Manufacturing Company is the story of its people, from the founder, George G. Blaisdell, to the many Zippo employees, customers, and collectors who have played a part in its 80-year history. Their loyalty to Zippo has made this one of America’s great companies.
The Zippo timeline begins in the early 1930s, at the Bradford Country Club in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Mr. Blaisdell watched a friend awkwardly using a cumbersome Austrian-made lighter. The lighter worked well, even in the wind, due to the design of the chimney. But its appearance was utilitarian.
Late in 1932, Mr. Blaisdell decided to refashion the Austrian lighter. Mr. Blaisdell fabricated a rectangular case and attached the top of the lighter to the case with a hinge. He retained the chimney design which protected the flame under adverse conditions. The result was a lighter that looked good and was easy to operate. The first Zippo lighter, currently displayed at the Zippo/Case Museum in Bradford, was produced in early 1933 and sold for $ 1.95 each. And, from the very beginning, they were backed by Mr. Blaisdell’s unconditional lifetime guarantee – “It works or we fix it free. ™” The name “Zippo” was created by Mr. Blaisdell. He liked the sound of the word “zipper” so he formed different variations of the word and settled on “Zippo,” deciding that it had a “modern” sound.
Application for the original Zippo patent was filed on May 17, 1934, and patent number 2032695 was granted on March 3, 1936. A second patent, number 2517191 was issued on August 1, 1950. The design of the Zippo lighter remains basically the same to this day, with minor improvements. In the mid-30s, Bradford’s Kendall Refining Company placed an order for 500 Zippo lighters. These are believed to be the first company-advertised lighters produced by Zippo and are highly collectible. Today, companies continue to use Zippo lighters as an advertising medium and Zippo “advertiser” lighters continue to be among collectors’ favorites.
Mr. Blaisdell passed away October 3, 1978. He is remembered not only for inventing the Zippo lighter, but also for his generous and kind spirit. In the 1980s and 90s, the company was owned by six members of the Blaisdell family, including his daughters and their children. Today, George B. Duke, Mr. Blaisdell’s grandson and Sarah Dorn’s son, is the sole owner and Chairman of the Board. Gregory W. Booth is President and CEO.
Zippo’s diverse product line continues to grow, and now includes lighter accessories; butane candle lighters; watches, men's and women's fragrance, and lifestyle accessories for men; and the developing line of heat and flame products for outdoor enthusiasts. Zippo also owns the Ronson brand of lighters and fuel.
In 2012, during its 80th anniversary year, Zippo production surpassed the milestone of 500 million lighters since Mr. Blaisdell crafted the first lighter in early 1933. The lighter is ingrained in the fabric of both American and global culture. In marketing parlance, the brand enjoys an unaided awareness rate of more than 98 percent. That means 98 out of every 100 people surveyed have knowledge of the Zippo name and lighter without being coached in any manner – an astonishing recognition factor.
Do you want your business printing made in the U.S.A.? Then please contact MI Printing and tell us about your printing needs. We are ready to listen and help.
MI Printing, LLC