All 620 Zippo Employees Had A Hand In Making Company’s 500 Millionth Lighter

When celebrating a milestone as significant as the 500 millionth of a product, it would seem anti-climactic to just let it pop off the assembly line and stick it in a box. Zippo made a pretty grand event out of honoring its 500 millionth lighter by involving all 620 of the company’s employees in its manufacturing.

From USA Today:

Rather, it was passed along, hand to hand, in two pieces — the lighter’s brushed chrome-plated brass case and its fuel-and-wick assembly innards — by each of the company’s 620 employees, who were lined up between the plant and the Zippo museum a few hundred yards away.

CEO Greg Booth then put together the pieces, owner George Duke, the 59-year-old grandson of the company’s founder, lit the device and the lighter was placed in the museum for safe keeping.

Zippo has been making its iconic lighters with those cases that go “click” when closed since 1932 in Bradford, Pa. Today was also the birthday of the company’s late founder, George Blaisdell, who passed away in 1978. Company officials figured out that the 500 millionth lighter would be produced this year, and started shifting the production schedule so the two events would line up.

All Zippo lighters come with a lifetime guarantee — which makes us wonder how many of those 500 million lighters are still out there.

Zippo produces 500 millionth lighter [USA Today]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Southern says:

    Who’s our resident Zippo collector.. Isn’t it Steve?

    • Coffee says:


      I just posted on G+: If you happen to live in New Jersey, that screaming you heard was +Steve Davidson as he had a five-minute orgasm.

      • Southern says:

        ROFL. :)

        Can’t say that I blame him. I’m not a “collector”, but I am an avid user of Zippo lighters.. I use mine at least 50-60 times a day; cigarettes just don’t stay lit well in a convertible, I usually have to light the same cigarette at least 7-8 times. XD

        So mine have a lifespan typically shorter than most.. When one breaks (usually the hinge pops off), I’ll throw it in a draw until I’ve got 5 or 6 of them needing repair, then mail them all in at once.. And Zippo has always been great about repairing them just like new, even throwing in all new inserts.

        I used to have to have mine repaired every year, but that was when I only had 3 or 4.. I’ve received a few as gifts, so I can go longer between repairs now. :)

  2. milkcake says:

    I don’t smoke but I would like one. It’s kinda cool. I can use it light a camp fire.

    • Velkyr says:

      Zippos + fuel needs to be added to all campers first-aid or survival kits. Not only does it help for lighting camp fires, torches, and similar contraptions, but if you have a decently sized piece of metal in your first aid kit, you can use the fire (Not from the zippo, but from a camp fire) and metal to help cauterize a wound long enough to get them help.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Unless that lighter and fuel instead ignite your first aid kit. That would suck.

        • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

          I have a small butane cigarette lighter in there instead. No leaks (I check every three months) and no refilling until you actually use it.

          Zippo even makes one, if the signature flick and spark is important.

          • Southern says:

            I almost always have my lighter ON me, but I keep a magnesium fire starter in my kit for emergencies. Extremely cheap (usually only a couple dollars), and if I accidentally run out of flint, or fuel, or the wheel breaks off (which has happened once – in 25 years) I can still start a fire if I *have* to. :)

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            Zippo also makes a fire starter for emergencies.

    • framitz says:

      I stopped smoking years ago, but still carry a lighter in my pocket.
      I was a scout leader… you never know when you might need fire.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      I light candles with lighters.

    • Murph1908 says:

      I don’t smoke either, but I bought a Zippo when I was a bartender. It was great for lighting the cigs of attractive customers (or handing it to guys who couldn’t find theirs).

      I got pretty good at a few of the tricks, mainly the “snap/open/light in one movement” one. This was before the days of the internet, too, where you just couldn’t look up tricks and video instructions online.

  3. BrownLeopard says:

    I have one. Love it to death. This is my fourth (2 stolen, one lost somewhere).

    • Southern says:

      I’ve got 7 or 8. Only bought 2, the rest were gifts over the years, but I’ve used them all.

      I’m a heavy Zippo user, so they typically only last me a year or so, then the lid pins start bending, falling out, or just plan break off.. I’ll throw ’em into a drawer until I’m down to my last 2, then ship the other 6 in for repair. Couple weeks later, I get ’em back and I’ve got another 5-6 years before I have to worry about it again. :)

      In fact I just got all mine repaired about 4-5 months ago, so I’m back up to 8 working like brand-new. :)

  4. smo0 says:

    Zippos bring back memories of high school…

    and last night /sets pipe down.

  5. Jack T Ripper says:

    I have one I bought for concerts back in the late 80s. I still have it and it still works great. The one I carried was a black chrome one and I love it till the day it slid out of my pocket somewhere. I still have my first one though, so that is all that matters. :) Nothing else is quite like a Zippo. The cheap copies are so obviously not Zippos. I’d say ‘they don’t make them like they used to’, but in the case of Zippo, they certainly still do.

  6. framitz says:

    A great company that makes and stands behind a great product.

  7. SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

    I used to sell them. Lots of them. They have a lifetime guarantee because you will never, ever have to take them up on it. No wires, no battery, no butane. Just flint, fuel, and wick.

    • framitz says:

      I’ve known a few people that abused their Zippos, they were repaired free of charge no matter how abused. Customer service at it’s very best.

    • demona667 says:

      Not so. I’ve owned at least 10 of them and over the years, because I’m clumsy and drop things all the time, each one of the pins that hold the lid on have popped out.

      I know if I send them in they’ll repair them no charge, I just never wanted to pay the shipping.

  8. tofupuppy says:

    My boyfriend has his grandfather’s vintage Playboy Club Zippo. Apparently they used to hand them out as freebies to members. It’s very, very cool — and would work if he ever got around to refilling it!

  9. coffee100 says:

    620 employees? Manufacturing a product? In America? Sounds like a layoff waiting to happen.

    “Barb Reid, 67, is the company’s longest tenured employee. She’ll celebrate 47 years on Sept. 21.”

    Isn’t this precisely the kind of company that modern American executives insist cannot be tolerated? Why, there must be a dozen millionaires making plans to hoist this company up on a flatbed truck and DRIVE It to China.

    • aja175 says:

      They do some mfgring in China but their classic flip open fluid filled lighters are all still made domestically. We’ll see how long that lasts.

    • theotherwhitemeet says:

      It only works because it is a privately owned company. If it were a public company the board would have moved it overseas years ago.

  10. aja175 says:

    Ahh Bradford… The home of Zippo, and… umm… a walmart? (Oh, and my inlaws)

  11. tofupuppy says:

    My boyfriend has his grandfather’s vintage Playboy Club Zippo. Apparently they used to hand them out as freebies to members. It’s very, very cool — and would work if he ever got around to refilling it!

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I don’t smoke anymore, but I want a Zippo SO BAD to have around in case I need to light a fire or something. They’re sooooo coool.

  13. 2 Replies says:

    Won three at Cedar Point, had all three thrown out surreptitiously by my mother 20 years ago.
    … still a little bitter.

  14. Cicadymn says:

    Bough my dad a pipe lighter zippo. It’s awesome.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      I swear that every military guy I know (including my husband) all carry Zippos. My own father was a Zippo-carrier too. Great product, well-made.

  15. cspschofield says:

    My bet is that a significant number of zippos are in a box in the attic (or basement) along with Great Grandfather’s army discharge papers, and that awful tea set that Great Aunt Nan loved so much.

  16. Bionic Data Drop says:

    I want to like Zippo’s. I really do. I’ve bought 3 or so over the years and tried to get used to them, but I find them inferior to the standard disposable Bic. A Bic will last me a month or two with zero maintenance. Zippo’s require weekly flint changes and fluid filling. Although I’m sure the Zippo company is a fine company, I’m just too lazy to put in the work required when the competition doesn’t require any. Not to mention if you lose your Bic, you’re only out $1.

    • Bladerunner says:

      Really?! I’ve pulled Bics apart,a nd found the flint to be shorter than a Zippo’s. Between that and you saying you have to refill the fluid so often…what are you doing to your poor Zippo? Sometimes they need to have their wick adjusted…

      I like to overfill mine, so that the first light is ridiculous and almost burns my hand off.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Weekly flint changes? Unless you are lighting it a few hundred times a day, I can’t see how you could go through them that quickly.

      • Southern says:

        Agreed.. I use my Zippo 50-60 times a day, and I change out my flint MAYBE once every 3-4 months.

        I keep 2-3 in the bottom between the cotton and the pull-up tab that you lift to fill it, and I hardly ever have to worry about running out of flints (although I have about 10 blister packs of Zippo Flints dispensers with the red rolly-wheel at the top. Love those things. lol) :)

        I have to refill my lighter with FUEL about once a week though. I’m real careful about not overfilling though, I did that once and put the lighter in my pocket and wound up with a lighter fluid burn on my leg (not that it caught on fire, just the lighter fluid itself isn’t good to keep on your skin).

  17. KyBash says:

    I have my dad’s. It needs repair, but I’ll never have it touched. He used it as a shim or stop-block or something on the gun on his tank during WWII so they could keep firing after they’d been hit. It has an arced dent which makes it really hard to pull out the insert. (It would have been in his pocket along with a pack of Camels when he was buried if my mother wasn’t an idiot.)

    It’s kinda funny that all the guys carried Zippos when they were in a tank popularly nicknamed “Ronson” (that model of tank was famous for bursting into flames).

    • aja175 says:

      You can probably get zippo to custom fit an insert around that dent if you wanted to use it. They’re good like that.

    • Nighthawke says:

      Send it into Zippo with a letter detailing the story behind it. They’ll probably send you a replacement and put that one in their museum.

      • KyBash says:

        I’m planning to give it to the VFW. He was a Post Commander, and they’re creating a permanent exhibit of personal items from each war.

  18. jaimystery says:

    Zippo also won an award earlier this month, the President’s “E” Star Award for increasing their exports (they won their “E” in 1994 and have increased their exports every year since).
    Nice group of people (disclaimer, I work for a company that does biz w/them)

  19. bben says:

    I quit smoking in 1968. But I still carried my zippo for two more years – then gave it to a good friend who had lost his identical zippo in Viet Nam.

    This is one device that works, and works well. Congratulations to Zippo on 500 million.

  20. cmikaiti says:

    Someone may have posted this, but I love this Zippo story

  21. Libertas says:

    This one was my first purchased with my own money back in the early 90’s:

    Until someone decided they needed it more than I did (not pointing fingers, promise).

    I inherited several more with pipe inserts when grandpa died, again someone stole those as well.

  22. RiverStyX says:

    This has been on my mind for a while, but the reports used to say that Zippo was in favor or SOPA..Does anyone have any insight as to why this could be?

    • Southern says:

      Zippos are heavily counterfeited items, and they believe (mistakenly or not) that SOPA would help knock sites off the Web that sold the counterfeited (I.E., “Pirated”) lighters.

      Same for Coach, Chanel, Burberry, Liz Clairborn, Leatherman Tool Group, Nike, Reebok, Revlon, the NBA, MLB, NFL, and many other companies that have items that are heavily counterfeited sold on the web, eBay, and other places.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Zippo supported/supports anti-piracy legislation, not specifically SOPA. Unlike software, when you copy Zippo’s trademark, you actually do take money from them and can damage their very well earned reputation.

  23. Shine-runner says:

    Most tend to fill them wrong or over fill them. You have to lift the first piece of material then fill the material under that. You can also store extra flint under the first piece of stuff. When I smoked I loved my zippo. I used Ronson fuel because I didn’t like the taste of zippo fuel. I don’t know why but zippo’s have a way of growing legs. They tend to just walk off.

  24. tungstencoil says:

    I don’t smoke, but when I was a bartender (and smoking was allowed in bars) I would light guests’ cigarettes for them… and I *always* had my Zippo. Fantastic product. The tactile sensation is almost sexual.

  25. John from Huntersville says:

    Zippo’s have the best guarantee/warranty that I’ve ever heard of. If a Zippo ever breaks (for any reason), they’ll fix it for free.

    Can anybody think of any product of any type with a warranty that good?

  26. quail says:

    I have 3 Zippos & one butane lighter. The Zippos are quick and easy to refill with lighter fluid, but the butane one is always ready to go on a moments notice. I don’t smoke but will pull one of them out for nights out on the town or to go camping. The Zippo just feels nice to use.

  27. NumberSix says:

    Hooray! Cancer!

  28. make7acs says:

    Have had one forever. Things are indestructible and Zippos customer service is impeccable. Glad to see they are still doing well.

  29. thor777 says:

    “All Zippo lighters come with a lifetime guarantee — which makes us wonder how many of those 500 million lighters are still out there.”

    Shouldn’t it be 499,999,999 lighters? The 500 millionth one is in the museum…..