The Curious Comedian with Amir Blumenfeld

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Ask the right questions about fireworks, and your Fourth of July is sure to pop!

Where do fireworks come from?
Fireworks’ roots go back to ancient Chinese military tactics. Why fight when you can entertain your enemies for 15 minutes and then bore them for five?

Are they recession-proof?
Oddly, yes! Even as the economy struggles, fireworks sales keep trending upward to nearly $1 billion a year. Good to see people cutting back to only the necessities.

What’s more hard-core: cherry bombs or sparklers?
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it’s sparklers. Of all the products out there, these danger sticks cause the most fireworks-related injuries. But that’s a small price to pay for 20 seconds of somewhat bright light!

How much bang can I legally pack into a firecracker?
Federal law caps the flash powder content at 50 mg. Prior to 1966, M-80s packed 3,000 mg each! Makes you think of the good ol’ days, when every boy got a case of dynamite for his eighth birthday.

Need to set off 16,000 firecrackers at once?
You can buy those strips at fireworks stores for a mere $70! Need to set off 16,001? That seems excessive.

Can I make my own?
The Internet is rife with instructions for DIY fireworks, but we wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, you could say that bringing it up at all is borderline negligent.

What’s the hardest part of life in Philly?
Some states, such as Pennsylvania, will sell you fireworks only if you’re a resident of another state. I’m pretty sure the law reads, “Look, we don’t care if Delaware blows itself up.”

This article originally appeared in mental_floss magazine. You can get a free issue here.