The BIC® Lighter is turning 40.

BIC, a Milford-based manufacturer of stationery products, lighters and shavers, is celebrating its lighter’s 40th birthday with a series of promotions and contests to help commemorate the milestone, including a contest that asked consumers to create their own lighter designs.

In 1973, BIC launched its first BIC Butane Lighter, which quickly became a household staple in homes throughout the world, company officials said.

Demand for the product was so great that the company began to produce lighters out of the Milford facility in 1974, where production remains robust today.

BIC has facilities and employees throughout the U.S. including a strong presence in Connecticut, where today the company employs approximately 400 people at its manufacturing and research and development facilities in Milford and its North American headquarters in Shelton.

“The BIC® Lighter is recognized as a worldwide leader in quality, performance, and value, and in producing a safe, reliable flame for millions of consumers every day,” according to a company press release. “In fact, more than 15 billion lighters have been sold in more than 160 countries worldwide.”

BIC® Lighter invited consumers to celebrate its 40th birthday by entering the BIC “Best of You” contest. Consumers created their own BIC® Lighter designs, which resulted in more than a thousand entries. The top eleven winners were publicly announced Monday at an event held at the BIC Lighter manufacturing facility in Milford.

The winners, who were from all over the U.S., were flown into New York City for the weekend as part of their prize pack and had the opportunity to visit the BIC’s Lighter facility to see their lighter design actually being applied to BIC® Lighters.

“We are celebrating our Lighter’s 40th birthday in a big way, and we’re looking forward to the winning designs being available at retail locations in March through August of this year,” said Mark Funderburk, brand manager-pocket lighters. “This is a very exciting time for our company, and we’re thrilled to be able to share it with our consumers.”

The event also featured: Commissioner Catherine Smith of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development; Milford Mayor Benjamin Blake, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, State Senator Gayle Slossberg, State Representative Larry Miller, as well as a variety of key members of the community and local political officials.

BIC officially kicked off the Lighter’s 40th Birthday Flicktacular celebration late last year when Special Edition® designs were selected by consumers at flicktacular.flickyourbic.com. Each birthday design features a 40th birthday emblem.

BIC also launched its 40th birthday golden-hood Special Edition® Series Birthday Lighters, which include the three top-selling Special Edition® design series: Tattoos, Flick My BIC and Favorites. From March through August, lighters in these limited edition series will have a game code that consumers can enter online through facebook.com/bicflickers for instant-win prizes and a chance to win the ultimate grand prize, an upscale three-day, two-night Las Vegas birthday bash for four people.