North Atlantic Trading Company is on the straight and narrow, but it prefers its business path to incorporate plenty of Zig-Zags. Its North Atlantic Operating Company (NAOC), best known for its Zig-Zag brand of rolling papers, is a top importer and distributor of cigarette rolling papers in the US. NAOC also sells several styles of tobaccos, rolling machines, and accoutrements. North Atlantic Trading's National Tobacco subsidiary is a leading maker of chewing tobacco in the US on the strength of its best-selling Beech-Nut chaw, as well as Havana Blossom, Trophy, Stoker, and others. Chairman Thomas F. Helms Jr. owns about 49% of North Atlantic Trading.
During 2010 the firm's National Tobacco Company, which makes loose leaf tobacco, was transferred to the company's Owensboro, Kentucky, plant under an agreement with Swedish Match North America. North Atlantic Trading Company had shuttered its tobacco manufacturing and distribution facility in Louisville, Kentucky, as part of the transition.
The bearded icon emblazoned on the Zig-Zag label is that of a French soldier named Zouave. When his clay pipe broke, he rolled his tobacco in gunpowder paper. The company's primary brand gets its name from the process of interleaving papers in a zig-zag manner. The Braunstein Brothers were credited with having perfected this process in 1894.