From Zouave To Dr Dre, Zig-Zag Rolling Papers Cross Generational Gap To Focus On Sustainable Future

In the 19th century, during the Battle of Sevastopol, a French soldier (also known as a “Zouave”) had his clay pipe broken by a stray bullet. Ever resourceful, he had the brilliant idea to roll his tobacco in a piece of paper torn from his bag of gunpowder.




If you wish to re-publish this story please do so with following accreditation

AUTHOR: Heather Allman



Zig-Zag Rolling Papers Cross Generational Gaps and Focus On Sustainable Future


According to The Fascinating Origin Story of the Iconic Zig-Zag Logo, published in February 2017 by

“Whether it’s marijuana or tobacco, Zig-Zag has become synonymous with DIY rolling culture. The French cigarette papers date back to the 19th century and have been name-dropped by everyone from Snoop and Cypress Hill, to Eazy-E and Eminem. The little orange packages even cover a wall at Willie Nelson’s ranch in Central Texas. 

Those who disagree with the arguments against using rolling papers could probably better explain how the brand differs from its competitors, but Zig-Zag’s longevity in the game is about more than quality—it’s also about brand recognition. One of the keys to building a company that stands the test of time is good branding, which includes a memorable name and logo.”

What does the choice of Zig-Zag papers say about the consumer?

The 2020 article, What Your Rolling Paper Choice Says About You, draws an interesting conclusion about the consumer who chooses Zig-Zag rolling papers:

If you smoke Orange Zig-Zags: You are young at heart, but have an old soul. You appreciate ‘oldies, but goodies’ and are a traditional person as far as brand equity is concerned. You are most likely into classic rock. If you smoke commercial cigarettes or ever did, they were probably Marlboro Reds.

You know what you like and are dedicated to what works for you. You appreciate quality and consistency, and like what you like no matter what anyone says.”

What is all the fuss about Zig-Zag?

The unmistakable orange box is a classic favorite for smokers  worldwide. Zig-Zag is a French company, whose rolling papers were originally made of wood pulp and flax.

Established in 1882 when their first production plant was built, Zig-Zag perfected the interleaving rolling paper pack that we’ve all become familiar with back in 1984.

This is where the name “Zig-Zag” comes into play: because of the zig-zag, or alternating layers, packaging process. Zig-Zag papers are one of the most notoriously thick papers available. 

Zig-Zag, leaders in the rolling paper industry for decades, appeals to all generations, because the #1 preferred cannabis consumption method is smoking.

In a new June 2020 study by Verilife, Marijuana & the Differences Between Millennials vs. Baby Boomers, they found that the generational divide between baby boomers and millennials is vast when it comes to social attitudes and economics. It’s a blame game that has lasted for a century.

We surveyed both baby boomers and millennials who consume marijuana to break down the similarities and differences between both generations,” according to the Verilife study. 

Respondents in this recent study, both younger and older generations of consumers, rate smoking cannanis as the #1 preferred consumption method:

Along with consumption frequency and changes in consumption since the onset of COVID-19, Verilife also asked each generation their preferred method to consume.

The most popular method among both generations is to inhale, either through a pipe, joint, or blunt.

Undoubtedly, it’s interesting to analyze the differences and similarities when it comes to marijuana use among Millennials and Boomers. Verilife’s study found that in many areas, “Despite their differences, Millennials and Boomers might have finally found something they can both agree on.”



Just in time, Zig-Zag has released a new product selection: Zig-Zag Unbleached. These unbleached papers are crafted from the finest blend of natural fibers and feature a 100% natural gum Arabic glue line to deliver the smoothest smoking experience, for which the premium brand Zig-Zag is world-renowned.

The natural, unbleached papers deliver on Zig-Zag’s high quality standards and are printed on recycled board using vegetable inks.

Along with the unbleached papers, Zig-Zag now offers unbleached paper cones. The unbleached paper cones are crafted from the finest blend of natural fibers to deliver a slow, even burn with no hassle – just fill, pack, and burn, according to the company.

In addition to its already colorful lineup of orange or white boxes for regular papers and green boxes for hemp papers, Zig-Zag, the French brand that’s been “BURNING SLOW FOR OVER 140 YEARS,” is once again paving a new path in the rolling paper industry by introducing a new unbleached product, popular with all ages of consumer. 

No matter what type of consumer you are, cannabis or otherwise, Zig-Zag has a rolling paper specially designed with you as a unique end user in mind.

Artwork courtesy of Garth Pickup, UK


On October 1, 2020, I interviewed Zig-Zag to talk about their rich history, and their new current place in the global rolling paper landscape.

Cannabis Law Report: Mainly, there are people-centric or profit-centric reasons for launching a new product​. How do you reconcile the two in order to maintain a balance?

Zig-Zag: “Zig-Zag is quality-centric. Our product portfolio expansion is catered toward satisfying the wants and needs of both our new customers as well as our existing customers.

We want our new customers to see the broad lineup of paper and cone products the brand has to offer so they can find the perfect product to suit their needs.

For our current customers, we’re continuously focusing on adding ancillary products that can help enhance their current experience from A-Z.

If we provide quality products that consumers want, we believe the profitability naturally follows.”

CLR: Well, 2020 is nearly over now. Tell me about your year to date at Zig-Zag.

Zig-Zag: “Having such a long history as a brand, we have always retained a strong presence in the brick and mortar C-Gas space and we have spent the year introducing several new products through our existing distribution network.

Beyond our traditional sales infrastructure, we have placed substantial focus on growing our B2C business online, as well as our online wholesale store to offer our B2B customers a seamless way to purchase products.

These new strategies have allowed us to showcase many of the brand’s new product offerings, as well as expand the presence in the alternative markets like dispensaries and headshops in legal states.

Regarding the global rolling paper landscape, our focus as a company is to continue growing as a leading premium paper brand within the United States and Canada, expanding our reach with new audiences domestically.”

CLR: Why did you make the decision to create this product? Why “unbleached”?

Zig-Zag: “Our goal as a company has always been to provide quality rolling products with the attributes to satisfy consumers’ preferences. Over the long history of rolling papers, there have been various and numerous evolutions of preference for consumers.

At one point in this evolution, smokers wanted a consistent and cleaner looking paper, hence our whitening process that eliminates imperfections and provides a consistent look and performance, which is still preferred by many today.

Recently there has been a growing consumer interest in products with natural attributes including rolling papers, so we introduced the Zig-Zag Organic Hemp and Zig-Zag Unbleached products to satisfy that need.

With the addition of these new products, we feel we are providing the widest range of premium papers that meet the diverse preferences and expanding consumer base within the marketplace.”

CLR: What were the company’s intentions introducing “green” hemp papers into the space first, followed by these new unbleached products?    

Zig-Zag: We understand that many of our customers prefer our premium classic papers, but as a company, our goal has always been to innovate. 

Our intention to add both the Hemp and Unbleached papers and cones was to continue this goal of innovation and develop a well-rounded portfolio for our customer base. 

We originally launched our 100% Organic Hemp Papers in 2018 and immediately received positive feedback from our customers.

This led us to develop more products in order to fill the gap in the market for those consumers looking for an alternative to traditional rolling papers.

The introduction of our Unbleached Papers followed shortly after the release of our Hemp Papers, and Unbleached Cones seemed like the right next step for the brand.

The addition of these products has expanded our ability to provide a robust portfolio of attribute-driven products to satisfy the wide range of consumer preferences.” 

CLR: Something people don’t realize about creating and launching a new product line for an established company?

Zig-Zag: “The critical element that many people don’t realize about launching a new product is the shear amount of preparation behind each launch.

From initial conception to mass distribution, there are thousands of hours worked and steps taken to ensure a positive consumer experience. 

Unlike some competitors, we do not launch products merely for the sake of adding SKUs to a product display set.  We want our distributors, wholesalers, and retailers to succeed. 

We want to deliver products that consumers actually want, which includes the classic products that make Zig-Zag famous to the new products that keep Zig-Zag fresh and relevant.

We also have to navigate the regulatory hurdles.  Many people are unaware that FDA regulates these products as ‘covered tobacco products.’  

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we ensure our products meet our rigorous quality requirements.  Zig-Zag is the #1 premium paper brand because our quality is unmatched.”

New Zig-Zag Unbleached Papers (Also available in Unbleached Cones)

CLR: Tell me about and explain to me the process of creating unbleached papers and cones.

How exactly are Zig-Zag unbleached made?

Are they vegan? Cruelty-free?

Zig-Zag: “For centuries, paper making was an artisan process. With over 140 years of experience, our manufacturer has perfected the paper making process adopting the most modern and advanced technologies, while still respecting the artisan tradition.

Paper is essentially a mixture of fibers from various sources. The creation of every Zig-Zag Rolling Paper begins with the sourcing and selection of the finest 100% natural plant fibers. The manufacturing process has two key phases: Pulping and Sheeting. 

In the pulping phase, the raw vegetal matter is broken down into small fibers. These ground fibers are further refined using a high temperature and pressure washing process. For our classic white papers, a proprietary “whitening” process is used.

For our “unbleached” papers, that step of the process is skipped allowing the finished paper to reflect the natural hue of the fibers.  Some uninformed people have claimed that “unbleached” means that white papers are made with household bleach or something like it.  That is simply ridiculous.  

The bleaching step for white papers utilizes an oxygenation process, with no residue of any kind on the paper.  There is no “bleach” or chlorine used in the whitening process.  “Unbleached” merely refers to the absence of the oxygenation process in making the paper, which means the paper has that natural hue of the fibers versus a classic white look.   

The washed fibers are then suspended in a solution of pure water. This solution only contains a few ounces of fibers per gallon and is around 99.5% water. This fibrous solution is sprayed onto a large canvas “forming table” where the fibers naturally interweave, and water is drained away.

The material goes through a series of presses and heated cylinders to compress and finish drying the sheet. These sheets are then rolled up and cut into reels of paper to be ready for a complex watermarking operation, natural gum application, and packaged in interleaved booklets originally invented by the founders of Zig-Zag.


All Zig-Zag papers are vegan, non-gmo, bleach free, dye free and cruelty free.


CLR: What is your foremost current goal with this new Zig-Zag product?

Zig-Zag: “As stated earlier, our company goal has always been to provide top quality rolling products to satisfy the preferences of consumers.

Over the long history of rolling papers, there have been numerous evolutions of preference for consumers.

At one point in this evolution, smokers wanted a consistent and cleaner looking paper, hence our whitening process that eliminates imperfections and provides a consistent look and performance, which is still preferred by many today.

Recently, there has been a growing consumer interest in products with natural, organic attributes. There is also interest in the pre-rolled cone form, which provides convenience with a perfect smoke every time.

With the addition of our new Hemp and Unbleached products, we feel we are providing the widest range of premium papers that meet the diverse, expanding consumer preferences.

Verilife’s 2020 Research on How Much Consumers of Both Generations Spend on Cannabis

CLR: Baby Boomers grew up with your product, and Millenials are newly discovering the wide variety of Zig-Zag products. It’s safe to say that being quality-centric and doing things “right” the first time are top priorities for the Zig-Zag company. 

Generally speaking, what then is the biggest challenge in regards to the actual launch of a new, sustainable product for your premium, already established brand?

Zig-Zag: “Some brands launch just about anything, regardless of quality, and often without regard to any regulatory hurdles. 

As the #1 premium brand, we don’t roll that way.  We take the time to ensure our products meet a real consumer demand while also meeting our high-quality standards and current regulatory compliance requirements.  

We take a hard line against counterfeiters. We want our distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers to continue supporting Zig-Zag’s #1 position in the U.S. and Canada.” 

CLR: What steps do you currently take to achieve and maintain Zig-Zag’s world-renowned high quality, consistency, and premium reputation?

Zig-Zag: “There are a lot of core values that we as a brand have remained true to. The first value is respecting the long history of craftsmanship that has served as the foundation to Zig-Zag for 140 years.

Launching a new product under the Zig-Zag brand is a time-honored process that requires significant planning from idea to store.

The second value we have is to test each product until we are 100% sure it will deliver the performance that is fitting for our audience.

Our goal has never been to introduce hundreds of rolling papers, but instead to focus on releasing the best products that we can stand by and believe in.”

CLR: With COVID-19, what has been the business impact so far?

Zig-Zag: “2020 has been one of the biggest years in the brand’s history. I think that as the economy shifted and adapted, so did our strategies.

We adapted by focusing on our online store and other digital channels to expand our reach.

Overall, the brick and mortar sales had some very strong growth due to consistent consumer behavior in the smoking segment during these unpredictable times. 

Convenience stores, for example, have been designated as essential businesses in virtually every state. 

The strategic planning and release of our new products also played a pivotal role in expanding the portfolio of products in the second half of the year.

All in all, we have been fortunate as a company and have continued to grow, expand, and provide our customers with product during these unforeseen times.

Our hearts go out to those impacted by COVID. We do not want to overlook that for sure. But if the question is about business impact, our Zig-Zag brand is iconic and resilient, and it will continue to thrive even as the world around it changes.”

CLR: How do authenticity and consumer trust factor into your current course of action?

Zig-Zag: “Authenticity and trust have always been our bond with consumers. We take a lot of pride in our craft; the process needs to have the customer in mind from beginning to end.

We want the customers to have an experience that is consistent through and through. As a company, we’re actively taking steps to ensure our customers are always purchasing authentic Zig-Zag products and that we help minimize counterfeits that are in the market. 

By eliminating counterfeits, we can ensure each and every Zig-Zag product in the market is authentic and can provide our customers with the quality they are used to.”

CLR: How do your past professional experiences and successes help you today in the rolling paper space?

Zig-Zag: “My personal experiences in advertising and marketing have allowed me to explore the promotion of our products using mediums that are new to the company.

My experience in the digital space has helped me and my team promote the brand, and all of its rich history and its wonderful portfolio of products, in the areas where consumer purchase behavior has shifted away from traditional brick and mortar. 

Overall, the entire team at Zig-Zag has welcomed our innovative and new approaches for growing awareness of the brand. My team and I have been very fortunate to learn from the industry’s true veterans.

We’re all very excited for the continued growth of the brand and look forward to sharing new projects in 2021.”

CLR: Give me one example of a future Zig-Zag goal to keep its premium status in the ever-expanding rolling paper industry? 

Zig-Zag: “We are excited about the growth and development of Zig-Zag accessories to provide a total rolling experience.

We’ve had rollers for many years and our trays were launched around the same time as our Organic Hemp Papers. 

Just like with our paper portfolio, we want to be able to cater to the wide range of smokers, and we know this involves providing the right tools and accessories that assist in the different rolling rituals each one of us has as a consumer. 

There are a lot of things in the pipeline that we are excited about that will allow Zig-Zag to continue to grow. Stay tuned….”


Who is the man featured on Zig-Zag papers logo?

The guy who is featured on the Zig-Zag packs is a 19th century French soldier nicknamed Zouave, who had his pipe broken by a bullet that was shot at him in the Crimean War. Legend has it that, needing a smoke, he rolled tobacco into a piece of paper that was torn off of a bag of gunpowder. Zig-Zag “rolling papers” as we know them were the end result of this initial endeavor.


Zig-Zag: Burning Slow For Over 140 Years

Zig Zag proudly flaunts its diverse, 104 year history, and the following illustrated walk down memory lane through images and text is courtesy of the Zig Zag  company website:


In the 19th century, during the Battle of Sevastopol, a French soldier (also known as a “Zouave”) had his clay pipe broken by a stray bullet. Ever resourceful, he had the brilliant idea to roll his tobacco in a piece of paper torn from his bag of gunpowder.

For more than 140 years, the image of Le Zouave has adorned every Zig-Zag product as a tribute to the creative soldier.


In 1894 the Braunstein Brothers perfected a packaging process that allowed the papers to automatically dispense from a booklet one at a time. They patented their invention and named the new product “Zig-Zag” after the Z shape the interweaved papers make when pulled from the package. This revolutionary process became a new packaging standard that is still in use today.


In 1900, Zig-Zag papers gained international recognition when they were awarded a gold medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris. Six years later, Zig-Zag was registered as a trademark and found fame all over the world.



The Zig Zag logo is used as the design of a bill/poster for a performance in San Francisco at the Avalon ballroom for Big Brother and the Holding Company (Janis Joplin) and Quicksilver Messenger Service in the Summer of ’66. Creators of the poster (Mouse and Kelley) did not obtain official copyright authorization but included a quote at the bottom of the poster “What you don’t know about copying and duplicating won’t hurt you.



The Captain Zig-Zag campaign was created. Depicting the Zig Zag man front facing similar to ‘Uncle Sam’ with the quote “Captain Zig-Zag Wants YOU!” underneath. While it has not been a campaign for decades, many still refer to The Zig Zag man as “Captain Zig Zag”.



Dr. Dre releases his first solo album “Chronic” with the homage to Zig Zag rolling paper on the album cover; a depiction of himself within the Zig Zag logo.


Zig Zag introduces Organic Hemp Rolling Papers and Ultra-Thin Paper Cones.


Zig Zag introduces Unbleached Rolling Papers and Cones.



Explanation of Generations and Age Groups 

  • Baby Boomers:Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. They’re currently between 56-74 years old (71.6 million in the U.S.)

  • Gen X: Gen X was born between 1965 and 1980 and are currently between 40-55 years old (65.2 million people in the U.S.)

  • Gen Y: Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1980 and 1994. They are currently between 24-39 years old (72.1 million in the U.S.)

  • Gen ZGen Z is the newest generation to be named and were born between 1996 and 2015. They are currently between 5-24 years old (nearly 68 million in the U.S.) Realistically, the name Generation Z is a placeholder for the youngest people on the planet. It is likely to morph as they leave childhood and mature into their adolescent and adult identities.

Primary Sponsor


Karma Koala Podcast

Top Marijuana Blog