Zig-Zag is a brand of rolling papers that originated in France. It is marketed in the USA by National Tobacco, in Europe by Republic Technologies, and in Japan by Tsuge Pipes. The Zig-Zag brand produces primarily hand-rolled tobacco related products such as cigarette rolling papers, cigarette tubes and rolling accessories.
- Cigarette papers: Made from wood pulp and flax, and uses natural gum Arabic, they come in five sizes. One size is the single wide. This size is often called "the white pack" because of its color. Another size is the size 69 often called "the orange pack" (or "orangies" in some areas) because of its color. The third size are the kings, or king size, also known for their orange or reddish hue, the fourth is 1½ and the fifth is double wide. Usually the white pack and orange pack are sold together in many stores across the United States. In Canada, the most popular size is the single wide, but with "kut-corners". In Australia, the most popular size is King size. There are also varieties within these sizes including Liquorice, Water Resistant, Slow Burning, and Free Burning.
- Cigarette tobacco: Sold in four varieties.
- Filtered cigarette tubes: These are filters for hand-rolled cigarettes.
- Filter cigarette making machine: This is a basic rolling machine, used to roll tobacco into cigarette papers; it provides an alternative to rolling cigarettes by hand.
- Cigar Wraps: Flavored cigar wraps, officially made for use with cigar tobacco.
- Cigarillos: Flavored mini cigars, similar to that of Phillies. Common flavors are mango, grape, and natural.
History of Zig-Zag
The company was founded in 1879 by Maurice and Jacques Braunstein. Based in Paris, in 1882 the company built the Papeterie de Gassicourt, a cigarette paper production plant near the town of Mantes-la-Jolie. In 1894 they invented the process of "interleaving" rolling papers. They called their papers Zig-Zag after the zigzag alternating packaging process. In 1900, Zig-Zag was awarded a gold medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris.
Success led to expansion in 1919 to a new mill in Thonon-les-Bains. During World War II, the company's original facility in Mantes-la-Jolie was destroyed and at war's end, all production was shifted to the Thonon factory.
With the death of Jacques Braunstein, in the 1950s Zig-Zag was sold to a partnership of the Group Bolloré and competitor JOB. In 2000, Zig-Zag became part of Republic Technologies of which Group Bolloré owns 19 percent.
The zouave soldier portrayed on the front of Zig-Zag products is colloquially known as the "Zig-Zag man". The choice of a member of this French North African regiment as a Zig-Zag icon originates from a folk story about an incident in the battle of Sevastopol. When the soldier's clay pipe was destroyed by a bullet, he attempted to roll his tobacco using a piece of paper torn from his bag of gunpowder.
In an advertising campaign in the 1960s, Zig-Zag published leaflets with the zouave facing the viewer (much like Uncle Sam) and the caption, "Captain Zig-Zag wants YOU!" The reason for using the rank of "captain" is unclear as the Zig-Zag man is portrayed in the fez and embroidered jacket of an ordinary zouave and is not an officer.
In January 1969, a band called "Captain Zig-Zag and the Acid Test" (featuring a lead guitarist who was a lookalike for Captain Zig-Zag) was the warmup band for Led Zeppelin's Whisky a Go Go debut (Alice Cooper was also on the bill).
Counterfeit Zig Zags
In recent years Zig-Zag has had issues with counterfeit products.