Burning for You

Zippo has been an iconic American brand—but these days, it's lighting campfires

Even if you’ve never smoked a cigarette, you know that…sound. It happens when the stainless steel lid pops open under the pressure of the cam spring—a crisp, metal-on-metal “click” that precedes the snap of the flint wheel. This is the sound of someone—most likely a Humphrey Bogart-type with stubble on his chin—firing up a Zippo lighter. The sound is so iconic it’s been sampled in pop songs, while the lighter itself—scarcely changed since its 1933 debut—has appeared in over 1,500 movies and TV shows, from Apocalypse Now to Dragnet.