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The Zippo Blu

Michael Moretti
From the Print Edition:
Richard Branson, Sept/Oct 2007

After 75 years with the same pocket lighter, Zippo has got itself a new flame. In the year of its diamond anniversary, the Zippo Manufacturing Co. has the cigar smoker in mind with the launch of the butane-powered Zippo Blu.

The company has taken its time-tested flint-wheel ignition system and applied it to a butane torch flame lighter. This combination of parts is unique in the market. The blue butane torch flame takes the place of the wick-and-lighter-fluid orange flame produced in the conventional model. The Blu fire shoots out with a hiss of pressurized gas like an acetylene torch, which can set the foot of your cigar aglow in seconds. The design also allows not only the fuel to be refillable but the ignition system as well—other torch flame lighters use ignition systems with a finite life. Add this to Zippo's lifetime guarantee, and you could be sparking your first Blu for another 75 years.

The Blu looks like a close cousin to the windproof traditional Zippo lighter. It has the familiar box-like shape, except it's slightly taller and the edges are rounded off. The lid makes the familiar "click" when you open it, and the lighter has a similar flint wheel and chimney flame port configuration. When you spark it, though, the difference becomes apparent.

Long a celebrated name in American manufacturing and a benchmark in cigarette lighters, Zippo makes its product stateside in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The name, however, has not carried the same resonance with cigar lovers during its tenure. The lack of a butane flame in the company's product line caused a majority of lovers of the premium leaf to steer clear of the traditional Zippo lighter because of the powerful scent produced by its lighter fluid. Finally, after an earlier failed approach, Zippo is primed to release its new windproof torch flame lighter fed by odorless, tasteless fuel.

Look for the Zippo Blu on local tobacconists' shelves. The entry-level Zippo Blus are set to retail for $49.95. Other Zippo Blus clad in silver or gold plating will retail for as much as $175.

Visit www.zippo.com.

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