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Buy some good wooden matches and join John Wayne at the fiery summit of all cosmic striving…

Above all, matches should always be wooden sticks in a box — a collection of miniature torches in a portable drawer — not cardboard tabs in a paper booklet advertising some dismal restaurant or auto insurance.  Be master of your matches and buy them yourself.  Do not passively collect whatever inferior promotional merchandise haphazardly finds its way into your pocket.  Your annual expenditure on a supply of fine matches will never top the price of a single bottle of tolerable whiskey.  

In choosing between brands and models the following comments may accordingly prove helpful.  (The discussion here concerns matches for domestic use; specialty outdoor gear requires turning to virtuoso matchmakers such as UCO and the Swiss company, Relags.)  Red is the color of a match head.  It is the non-poisonous allotrope of the fifteenth element on the periodic table, whose discovery and use mark the final turning point in the long drama of matchmaking.  Avoid, therefore, blue or green tips, except on special occasions, such as young children’s birthdays.  For such events, one can recommend the signature, sky-blue “Cowboy Matches” sold by WIC, a German make.  They come in a neat box bearing a nice drawing of a mounted cowpoke, set against a western sunset scene, emblazoned with a saloon-style font reading simply: “Cowboy Matches.” These are excellent matches for light duties such as cake-candle lighting, but real cowboys will not use them.  Wagner Match peddles customizable boxed matches in sixteen different Crayola-like colors, but “Cowboy Matches” should be preferred.

It is unfortunate to say that the former pride of American matchmaking, the giant Diamond Match Co., once piloted by O.C. Barber of Akron, Ohio (until the wicked Kreuger gained control), has recently lost its way, wandered into the plastic cutlery business, and now offers a Greenlight series of “strike anywheres” with artificially dyed green tips.  The new box design has lost focus and, following this gimmick, the number of reported duds per box has been remarkably high (sometimes topping twenty-five percent).  Diamond’s mother company, Jarden Corp. (now itself under the conglomerate, Newell Brands), acquired Ohio Blue Tips (formerly the Ohio Match Co.) and quietly retired the brand in 2011 to concentrate on Diamond; but the loyalty of a vocal clientele, notably cigar-smoking purists, has called back this sturdy, historic make.  The shafts of both the Greenlights and Blue Tips are uniformly good and each whipping scratch and sizzle will delight.  They should be used with reserve and appropriate airs of pretension.  The classic box will, nevertheless, afford the user special pleasure and the antiquity of Ohio’s gimmicky colored match stunt should be (begrudgingly) chosen over Diamond’s novel dabbling in green. 

Blue Tips can thus be recommended for luxury events, such as pipe and cigar (and wad of cash) smoking, or the very rare (!) use of rainbow flame crystals at the hearth for a 70s night.  The community of Wadsworth, Ohio, once home to the Ohio Match Company, continues to celebrate an annual festival at which they ignite a seventeen-foot matchstick (the world’s largest), which proudly burns for twenty-four hours, shining like a great beacon of hope for the dark world — an Alexandrian Pharos.  It may indeed be hoped — and one need be no phillumenist to hope it — that this celebrated company may one day be freed from the corporate monster that swallowed it live and returned to the community that still remembers and reveres it.  On that day, some of Ohio Match’s other fine former  trademarks might also be recalled out of match oblivion: the “Junior” (Ohio’s version of the Midget, issued in the 1930s), the “Rosebud,” “Armadillo,” “Chief,” “Fife and Drum,” the “Ohio Noiseless,” the “Pilot,” and the inimitable “Royal Star.”  Today, tragically, Blue Tips are only available in a strike-on-the-box variety.

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