Five Favorite Fireworks of the Fourth

4th of July Fireworks wallpaper1 560x333Ah, Independence Day. The 4th day in July has been set aside here in America to celebrate our separation from and subsequent victory over the tyrannical King of England whereby we all gather together, watch parades, eat sun-stroked potato salad, and colorfully blow shit up. What a way to say, “Here’s the finger, jolly old Britain!” by actually showing them the one we blasted off with a concealed explosive. I can scarcely think of another holiday that concludes by huddling together under the humid, sweaty glow of humming mosquitoes while watching spectacular displays of color being launched professionally from cannons half a mile away.

fire worksYes, fireworks are beautiful and, when not handled by amateurs, generally safe. However, you get a bunch of goofy idiots filled with a bit of beer and hand them something with a wick, stuff’s gonna get blowed up real good. Around these parts (Michigan), explosives are illegal and, were it not for the dedicated work of the nonchalant police force, far more missing limbs would be walked into local hospitals. Yeah, no one really cares around here as long as you’re in your own yard and not actively aiming bottle rockets at your neighbors, since everyone goes south to Indiana to get them anyway. Speaking of bottle rockets, before heading out for your day of excitement and demolition, why not check out the fascinating history behind five great 4th of July traditions.


Where Did They Come From?

M-80s (as well as Cherry Bombs) are one of the larger class of explosive fireworks called ‘salutes’, presumably because that’s what you do after your drunken buddy lights one off in his mouth. M-80s were originally designed by the military in the early 20th century to represent artillery or mortar fire where they were playfully lit with Bic’s and whipped at training soldiers by guys with big cigars and sadistic senses of humor. Thanks to the mass of the population who have caused irreparable property damage and raised insurance premiums by turning their friends into pirates, these ‘Class-C’ or consumer fireworks have had to be regulated quite strictly by limiting the amount of flash powder any one explosive can contain to less than 50 milligrams. Stupid kids.

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Can I Still Get Them?

Products being marketed under names like, “M-80 Firecracker”, “M-8000”, or “M-some-random-number” are still readily available in states where miniature bombs are still currently legal, but none contain any more than 50 mg of the good stuff. Still, it’s fairly easy to eviscerate a toad with these bad boys.

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Bottle Rockets

Where Did They Come From?

Made since the very early days of the 20th century in such traditionally grounded countries as China and Japan for just about every celebration they’ve got, Bottle Rockets are one of the most popular 4th of July personal firework. Consisting primarily of black powder, colored additives, and often a ‘whistling mix’ -sounds like really good Kool Aid- all compressed into a coned tube attached to a stick, bottle rockets are chock full of dangerous fun. The best kind! And since they are considered explosives, just innocently colored, they are, unfortunately, illegal in a lot of states (not just Michigan this time) and are, not surprisingly, just a popular with ever increasing lists of injuries from them every year. Bottle rocket fights are the best!

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Can I Still Get Them?

You betcha! Thanks to their over-seas mass production for celebrations even five-year olds can participate in, bottle rockets are cheap. Running anywhere from a dime each for the small ones to something like a buck-fifty for an entire gross (that’s 144) of the decent ones, you can stock up now for that backyard cluster bombing you’re planning.

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Where Did They Come From?

Likely introduced in the UK for Guy Fawkes celebration, the innocuous and seemingly innocent sparkler is often misidentified as a standard ‘firework’, when in reality it’s a metal stick that emits colored ‘sparks’ when lit burning in excess of 3000 degrees! Tell me that’s not dangerous! And these little wands of destruction are available everywhere! Containing a lethal cocktail of aluminum, magnesium, iron, titanium, sulfur, potassium, and strontium all packed together on a thin metal rod is just a recipe for doom! These things could poke an eye out and that’s even before they’re lit! Get them burning and you have what is largely considered the most dangerous celebratory fire hazard of the whole holiday thanks mostly to dumb-ass parents handing them to even stupider kids! Apparently, fire professionals recommend fire-proof clothing, fire retardant gloves, a nearby lake, and at least a mile removal from civilization before you attempt to achieve joy with these Hell Sticks. Fun!

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Can I Still Get Them?

Hell yes! Despite their sinister reputation and high levels of flammable danger, you can probably find sparklers at children’s roadside lemonade stands.

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Where Did They Come From?

Pretty name, right? Well don’t let that fool you: firework fountains are colored pyrotechnics packed into little cardboard tubes just waiting for your match to send up a bunch of burning, flaming, exceedingly hot sparks onto your dry lawn. Just like every other class of fireworks commonly found, fountains, too, can trace their origins to China, where the mass production and use of such items is handled regularly. Also it gave those early 20th century inventors something else to do with their still-smoldering cigarette butts. The main distinguishing feature between a pyrotechnic fountain and, say, something like a bottle rocket, is simply the explosive factor since it obviously can’t be the residual heat and plumes of searing flame… no, it couldn’t be that.

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Can I Still Get Them?

Much like sparklers, just about every state that isn’t a giant, lame party pooper offers small fountains in one form or another. Around here, you can purchase packs of fireworks that come stocked with these plus colored smoke bombs, ash snakes, whistling bungholes, spleen spliters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don’ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers, with or without the scooter stick, and whistling kitty chasers.

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Party Poppers

Where Did They Come From?

I couldn’t really find a historical family tree of these little, boring, hopelessly dull party favors, but they do tend to go hand-in-hand with celebrations, especially New Years and July 4th. Believe it or not, there are some states that absolutely frown upon any kind of personal celebratory devises, even sparklers. These states are never invited to cool parties and they spend far too much time in their parent’s basements. Anyway, even those stunningly over-strict spots still allow Party Poppers because they are, apparently, completely safe. The minute amount of explosive used to pop out the streamers and confetti is so little that it’s totally non-flammable. Evidently none of these places has ever carved open a dozen of these ‘safe’ novelty items and blown apart insects. I won’t tell anyone.

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Can I Still Get Them?

Don’t be too surprised if you’re issued these in the mail.

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