Pocket Cool: The Original Zippo Lighter

Made In: Bradford, PA

You can search far and wide to own a piece of history. Sometimes, though, the real deal is right under your nose.

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Essentially unchanged for eighty years, beloved of GIs, rock-n-rollers, and movie stars alike, US-made Zippo lighters are synonymous with an era. Once you hold it, flick it, and hear the ‘ching’, you’ll love it. But it’s not just cool – it’s practical too, built to a design essentially unchanged in 80 years.

Buy this model: Solid Brass Zippo Lighter at Amazon.com
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Under the lid, there’s a windproof chimney, the bright idea of an inventor named George Blaisdell. He had the idea in 1933 after watching a friend struggle to light a cigarette on a windy day. The wheel sparks a replaceable flint, which ignites the lighter’s gasoline fuel; closing the lid again extinguishes the flame. Refilling is easy: slide the inner case out, douse the cotton wool pad in fuel, and you’re done. If you’re a beginner, this Zippo All-In-One Kit includes everything you need: fuel, flints and a chrome-brushed Zippo lighter.

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Since 1933, Zippo has sold more than 500 million lighters, in thousands of designs ranging from the brushed chrome model to a solid gold model that reportedly goes for $18,000. All Zippo gasoline lighters are still made in Bradford, PA, where Zippo employs 950 people.

As long as you can keep it – easier said than done when you’re bar-hopping – a Zippo will last you for life and possibly beyond. Frank Sinatra loved his so much that he had himself buried with it.

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