the zig zag 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, france. in 1894 they invented the process of “interleaving” rolling papers. they called their papers zig zag, after the term used to describe the process. in 1900 they were awarded a gold medal at the universal exposition in france.
The character portrayed on the front of the company’s products , colloquially known as the “zig zag man”, originates from a folk story about zouave, a french colonial soldier at the battle of sevastopol during the crimean war. when the soldiers clay pipe was destroyed by a bullet, he attempted to roll his tobacco into a cigarette with a piece of paper torn from his bag of gunpowder.