Stoner Dictionary | Zig Zag
Zig Zag: noun 1. a brand of papers used to roll marijuana cigarettes
Origin: Zig Zag is a French company founded in 1879 by Maurice and Jacques Braunstein
Example: “I always prefer a Zig Zag to a pipe.”
In the latter part of the nineteenth century a method of “interleaving” cigarette papers revolutionized the world of rolling. A Frenchman by the name of Maurice called these interleaved papers “zig zags” and began the Zig Zag Rolling Paper Company. The easy use of these papers made them very popular amongst the smoking community. Profits soared for the Paris based Paper Empire and after striking a deal with an American distribution company, “zig zag” became a household word in the states. It wasn’t, perhaps, until a 1990s film, Dazed and Confused, made a reference to zig zags in a stoner context. When small time pot dealer Pickford sends his stoner buddies into the local convenient store he reminds them to “grab some zig zags.” The papers are used throughout the film to roll joint after joint of some of the best weed Texas has to offer. Taking place on the last day of school, the movie captures the essence and anticipation of the soon to come ’80s era. The zig zag is not only a necessity in your smoking arsenal, but also an important part of stoner culture.
Just seeing that orange container with the comforting bearded man in the beanie, puffin’ on a J, you can almost smell the herb.
The identity of the original artist who painted this famous image remains somewhat of a mystery, but has actually become an iconic piece of stoner art seen hung in living rooms, basements and dispensaries all over the world. Aside from the origins of this art, have you ever wondered who is this famous Zig Zag Man? Legend has it, that “Captain Zig Zag,” as he was named in folklore, was a Zouave (a regiment of the French Army) who fought during the Siege of Sevastopol which was during the Crimean War. The battle was located in what we now know as Ukraine and lasted from 1854 to 1855. During this battle, Captain Zig Zag’s tobacco pipe was shattered, supposedly by a bullet. As the story goes, he ripped a small rectangular piece of paper off of his bag of gun powder and used it to roll himself a cigarette. Many soldiers did, and still do, find solace in simple vices like booze and cigarettes. In times of war and suffering, sometimes the key to keeping one’s sanity is indulging in a moment of familiarity. Even if this moment is fleeting and infrequent, it can act as a warm blanket covering you from the harsh reality of war just in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. While the real story is probably a little more dry and a lot less McGyver, next time you are rollin’ up a fatty with your smoking circle, spin the yarn of old Captain Zig Zag and even if it’s not fact, it sure is a conversation starter!