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Period Zippos were made of brass, but Zippo used a black crackle finished steel during the war years because of metal shortages.While the Zippo Manufacturing Company never had an official contract with the military, soldiers and armed forces personnel insisted that base exchange (BX) and post exchange (PX) stores carry this sought-after lighter.
From 1949 to 2002, Zippos were also produced in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.Printed on the bottom of the felt (in modern Zippos, not on older models) are the words, "LIFT TO FILL," to indicate one must lift the felt away from the "cotton" in order to refuel it.The fuel, light petroleum distillate or synthetic isoparaffinic hydrocarbon (commonly referred to as lighter fluid or naphtha), is poured into the rayon balls (sometimes called the "cotton," or the "batting"), which absorbs it.Thousands of different styles and designs have been made in the eight decades since their introduction including military versions for specific regiments.Since its invention Zippos have been sold around the world and have been described "a legendary and distinct symbol of Americana".
Morley Safer, in his August 5, 1965 CBS News report of the Cam Ne affair and Private First Class Reginald "Malik" Edwards, the rifleman 9th Regiment, US Marine Corps Danang (June 1965 – March 1966) whose profile comprises chapter one of Wallace Terry's book, Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans (1984), describe the use of Zippo lighters in search and destroy missions during the Vietnam War. On the left of the underside was stamped a letter A–L, denoting the month (A = January, B = February, C = March, etc.).