The world of rolling papers is a lot more interesting than you may think! A rich and weaving history of significant innovations that have revolutionized the smoking experience for millions worldwide shows that the rolling paper industry is ever-evolving. That being said, some things never change. A handful of rolling paper brands have been around for centuries, and their early discoveries have stood the test of time. In this article, we will look at ten things you didn't know about rolling papers. Stay with us to find out more.
Rolling Papers Were Invented Centuries ago in Spain
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Rolling papers were developed in the Spanish city of Alcoy in the early 1700s. The town of Alcoy had a long history of papermaking before the invention of rolling paper. Its inhabitants learned how to make paper from the Chinese centuries prior. Most of the paper in Spain during those days was made in Alcoy.
To meet demand, paper manufacturing companies in Alcoy began to make rolling paper. Rolling paper quickly became one of the most popular methods of smoking. Over the years the use of rolling paper spread all over the world. Fast forward to today - rolling paper brands have developed products that are a far cry from the humble papers that were created in those early days in Alcoy.
Interestingly, some of the first trademarks ever registered in Spain were for rolling papers. By the mid-1800s, there were more than 40 registered rolling papers brands in Spain. The earliest known brand had the name Pay-Pay and was founded in 1703. A more recognizable brand is Bambu.
Bambu's papermaking dates back to the mid-1700s. At that time, it was making paper for bibles but later established its rolling paper brand in 1907. Lastly, did you know that the standard 1 ¼ size rolling paper is sometimes referred to as Spanish size?
Zig-Zag Rolling Papers Date back 140 Years
Legend has it that a Zouave, Captain Zig-Zag, lost his clay pipe broken to a bullet during the battle of Sevastopol. According to the tale, this happened during the wake of the Crimean War. Allied soldiers during the war were referred to as Zouaves and often smoked clay pipes.
That fateful day, the Captain’s pipe was shattered with the force of a stray bullet, just as he had struck a match and was about to light it. This unfortunate event did not get between Boris and his smoke! He proceeded to roll his filler in a bit of paper that he tore from a musket cartridge.
In 1855, the French brothers Jacques and Maurice Braunstein founded a rolling paper manufacturing plant in Paris, France. They began by purchasing rolls of paper that they would cut and package into more suitable papers for rolling. The name Zig-Zag was trademarked in 1906 and grew to become one of the most iconic brands in the world of rolling papers.
By 1919 they had expanded their operations and moved their facility to Eastern France near lake Geneva. It allowed them access to fresh mountain water that added consistency to their manufacturing processes.
The Zig-Zag Man Has Popped Up in Pop Culture Throughout the Years
The man with the mustache goes by many names. Boris, Zouave, The Captain and The Zig-Zag Man. When you think of Zig-Zag, the first thing that comes to mind is usually a booklet of French Orange rolling papers and the French soldier's mustachioed face. It's iconic!
Janis Joplin and her band, the Big Brother and the Holding Company, used Zig-Zag branding on a promotional concert poster in the 1960s. Soon after this, Zig-Zag used Boris' face along with the words "Zig-Zag Wants You!" in a marketing campaign of their own. It was an apparent reference to the Uncle Sam draft posters, popular at the time.
Decades later, Californian Rapper Dr. Dre used the iconic Zig-Zag branding on his debut album, The Chronic. This album went Triple platinum which led to Dr. Dre winning a grammy award. Who knows, maybe it was the golden touch of Captain Zig-Zag that had something to do with it!
Many 90s rap anthems have referenced Zig-Zag. Some artists to reference Zig-Zag in their lyrics are Eazy-E, Afroman, Eminem, and the one and only Snoop Dog! It's one thing to dominate the rolling paper niche, but it's impressive when a brand starts leaving its mark on popular culture.
Zig-Zag's Name Refers to a Huge Innovation for Rolling Papers
Zig-Zags name comes from the interleaving of the rolling papers. The horizontal linking and folding of the rolling papers in the booklet ensure that the next paper is always ready to dispense. It forms a shape that zigs and zags as you pull rolling papers from the booklet. This innovation won Jacques and Maurice an award at the 1900 Universal Paris Exposition. The name Zig-Zag was a tip-of-the-hat to the innovative patent.
The interleaving of rolling papers has become the standard feature within the rolling paper industry. It is one of the most significant innovations, and for a good reason. This simple idea not only revolutionized the way rolling papers are packaged but also solidified a brand.
Over the years, rolling paper companies have developed more innovations such as flavored rolling papers and gummed rolling papers. Rizla was one of the first companies to offer flavored rolling papers.
It is unclear which company first started manufacturing gummed rolling papers, but this has become an industry standard. Gummed papers feature a thin strip of glue that secures your joint and stops it from unraveling. This gum is made from Gum Arabic, which comes from an Acacia Tree.
Rolling Paper Was Originally Sold in Large Sheets
Pre-cut rolling papers packaged in a convenient booklet are today's norm. However, this was not always the case. Precut rolling papers only made an appearance around 1760. Until then, the rolling paper was sold in large sheets that would need to be folded and then cut to size. These rolling papers didn't have a gum strip, making them prone to unraveling if one was not careful.
Nowadays, we are spoiled for choice! Rolling papers are pre-cut into a wide range of sizes, which allow us to roll joints in all sorts of shapes and sizes. However, one can still buy large sheets of rolling paper. This type of rolling paper is reminiscent of the days before pre-cut rolling paper and is ideal for someone looking for something different!
You'll find these types of rolling papers on a spool similar to that of saran wrap or paper towels. This type of paper allows you to get creative, roll huge joints, and create interesting shapes!
Rolling Papers are Made Using a Wide Range of Different Fibers
Images by Mathew Montrone Pexels
Most of today's paper comes from wood and recycled paper. However, when it comes to rolling paper, this is not the case. While the wood pulp is used to make rolling papers, it is often blended with other fibers like flax, hemp, and rice. These lightweight plant fibers are sometimes referred to as "rag fibers." They have been a staple in the rolling paper industry for over 100 years!
Each of these materials has its unique qualities. Some manufacturers choose to make 100% hemp rolling papers. Hemp rolling papers are gaining popularity because of their eco-friendly status and mild taste that does not mask the joint's taste.
Rolling papers that are made from rice fibers are usually ultra-thin. They can be difficult to roll with as they tend to have a smooth texture, making them difficult to grip with your fingers. Flax fibers have been used in rolling paper manufacturing for centuries. Flax gives off very little smoke when it is burned, and the texture makes it easy to roll with.
In recent years, we have seen the rise of bamboo rolling papers, which offer a slow-burning, eco-conscious option. There are also novelty rolling papers that are entirely transparent, which make for an eye-catching joint! These papers are made from refined plant cellulose.
Some Rolling Papers Brands Use Chemicals to Treat Their Papers
Have you ever wondered how rolling paper companies make their rolling papers bright white? Some companies use harsh chemicals like bleach, which can leave behind a toxic residue. You should avoid chemically bleached rolling papers.
Zig-Zag's white papers, on the other hand, are treated through an oxygenation process, which whitens them. This process leaves behind no harmful residue. It is better to opt for unbleached rolling papers or to support reputable brands such as Zig-Zag.
Certain rolling paper companies will use chemicals such as titanium oxide, which slows down the burn rate of the paper. Other companies use artificial dyes and flavorings to enhance the appeal of their rolling papers.
Zig-Zag’s Organic Hemp papers are unbleached and made from 100% pure hemp fibers. Zig-Zag is dedicated to providing a premium smoking experience and is committed to the environment. Zig-Zag's partnership with One Tree Planted serves to plant trees to offset deforestation.
The Weight of Rolling Paper Influences the Ease of Use
Do you ever wonder why some papers are difficult to roll with? This has a lot to do with the weight of the rolling paper. One way to determine the weight is to feel the thickness of the rolling paper. Lightweight rolling papers will be ultra-thin, and heavier rolling papers will be thicker.
Generally speaking, thin rolling papers, such as rice paper, will be difficult to grip with your fingers and roll with. Thicker rolling papers, like flax papers, will be easier to roll with because your fingers have more substance to grip and roll.
Not All Rolling Papers Burn at the Same Rate
Has your joint ever needed to be relit halfway through a smoking session? It can point to the burn rate of the rolling paper that you are using. Ultra-thin rolling papers are excellent for the connoisseur as they do not influence the flavor of the joint. However, rice rolling paper has a fast burn rate, which can cause your joint to extinguish itself prematurely.
Burn rate is partially affected by the thickness or weight of the rolling paper. Rolling papers that are made from flax are thicker than rice and hemp and have a slower burn rate. It reduces the risk of your joint going out halfway through because the paper stays lit longer. Good quality hemp rolling papers, such as Zig-Zag's Organic Hemp papers, are manufactured to be slow-burning, which makes for an uninterrupted smoking experience!
Rolling Your Own Joint Needn't be Difficult
You may be frustrated with rolling joint after joint only to be left with a pile of crumpled rolling paper! The truth is that rolling the perfect joint takes practice. If you're willing to put in the time practicing, you will eventually become a master joint roller! However, if you don't feel like mastering the craft of joint rolling, you don't have to! There are products available that will make the whole process of joint rolling a lot easier!
Consider pre-rolled cones that look kind of like mini ice cream cones. All that you need to do is fill it with your favorite herb or filler and light up! Zig-Zag's cone rolling papers come in 1 ¼ and king size and are packaged in a crush-proof box, protecting your cones from being damaged while in transit.
Another option for making rolling a joint easier is a rolling machine! A rolling machine is smaller and simpler than you may think. It can easily fit in your pocket and is extremely lightweight! Zig-Zag offers high-quality rolling machines in three different sizes. You can choose from a 70mm, 78mm, or 100mm rolling machine! This simple device will make joint-rolling far more manageable than rolling by hand!