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    17 Things You Probably Never Knew About Fireworks

    Baby, you're a — ah, well, you know.

    Conversations are hard. Each week, two-time Jeopardy! winner and awkward-silence warrior Terri Pous makes small talk a little easier by giving you random things to blurt out when you don’t know what else to say. Catch up on the most recent edition here.

    1. The Walt Disney Company is the largest consumer of fireworks in the world.


    Apparently, all it takes is a shit ton of fireworks displays to create ~magic~. Also, Disney is the second-largest purchaser of explosive devices — the first-largest is the Department of Defense.

    2. Blue is by far the hardest color to produce.

    New Line Cinema / Via

    Fireworks all have the same base and materials, no matter the color, but adding different chemicals makes different colors. To get any kind of blue, you need to add a copper compound, but if the firework's temperature gets too high, the blue hue gets washed out. And since fireworks involve a lot of, well, fire, most of the time, any blue is pretty dim and unexciting.

    3. And all of the different fireworks shapes have their own names.

    Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    You've got peonies, chrysanthemums, willows, diadems, palms, crossettes, horsetails, rings, cakes, and more.

    4. Fireworks were invented before weapons, and actually led to the invention of gunpowder and explosives.

    Universal Pictures / Via

    Sometime between 600 and 900 A.D., Chinese alchemists searching for a potion for immortality accidentally made the first fireworks by mixing saltpeter (aka potassium nitrate), charcoal, sulfur, and other ingredients, putting the mixture in empty bamboo shoots, and then adding fire. It took another hundred years or so for them to realize that same mixture could be used in battles by attaching firecrackers to arrows.

    5. The first-ever fireworks in the US were set off by none other than John Smith.

    Disney / Via

    Yes, the John Smith whose name was used in Pocahontas. In 1608, he reportedly used some fireworks, either to impress or scare nearby Native Americans.

    6. Americans have been setting off fireworks to celebrate their independence since at least 1777.

    20th Century Fox / Via

    The tradition is almost as old as the US itself! A July 4, 1777, celebration in Philadelphia reportedly included a parade, cannons, "loud huzzas," and yes, fireworks.

    7. You can thank an organization called The Society for the Suppression of Unnecessary Noise for all of our fireworks laws and regulations.

    Paramount Pictures / Via

    It's not just because of the fire and injury hazards. A woman named Julia Barnett Rice founded the society in the early 1900s in New York City to fight noise pollution from anything from steamships to fireworks. Her efforts to get fireworks banned near hospitals and schools and overall limit their use on July 4 worked: Springfield, Massachusetts, soon outlawed the sale of fireworks, and other cities and states followed suit by either outlawing them or slapping on tons of regulations shortly after.

    8. And to this day, three states completely ban all consumer fireworks.

    NBC / Via

    If you live in New Jersey, Massachusetts, or Delaware, you're SOL.

    9. Still, US consumers spent a whopping $825 million on fireworks in 2016.

    Warner Bros. Entertainment / Via

    That was way up from $600 million in 2006.

    10. If you're scared of fireworks, you have kovtapyroergasoiphobia.

    Or pyrotechnophobia, if you want something a little easier to pronounce.

    11. Queen Elizabeth I and King James II were really into fireworks.

    Gramercy Pictures / Via

    Elizabeth loved fireworks so much that she created a court position called “Fire Master of England" for the most talented pyrotechnician in England. James II later knighted the man who made the fireworks display at his coronation.

    12. In 1934, explorer Richard Byrd did a ‘lil frozen Fourth of July celebration at his base in Antartica, which he called Little America.

    NBC / Via

    "He and his men set off fireworks in a storm when the temperature was actually quite warm for them — 33 degrees below zero (-34 degrees Celsius)," James R. Heintze, American University librarian emeritus and author of The 4th of July Encyclopedia, told National Geographic. That means fireworks have been set off on every continent.

    13. Sparklers are way hotter than you probably think they are.

    Warner Bros. Pictures / Via

    They look all fun and innocent, but they can burn anywhere from 1800°F to 3000°F, and just inches from your hand.

    14. The deadliest fireworks-related accident in history happened on May 30, 1770, right after Marie-Antoinette’s wedding to the future King Louis XVI.

    Columbia Pictures / Via

    Those two just couldn't catch a break: During the celebratory post-wedding fireworks show, the wind blew some partially-detonated rockets onto the large crowd of spectators, which caused a panic. People ran to escape on Rue Royale, and the enusing stampede killed more than 133.

    15. Unsurprisingly, the majority of fireworks injuries happen on hands and fingers.

    Paramount Pictures

    Some 36% happen on those extremities, while 19% of injuries happen on the hand, face, and ears.

    16. Women are more likely than men to get injured at public fireworks displays.

    Capitol Records

    But men get injured by fireworks more often overall — 74% of fireworks injuries happen to men, as opposed to 26% to women.

    17. The largest fireworks display ever had a mind-boggling 810,904 fireworks.

    Noel Celis / AFP / Getty Images

    Iglesia Ni Cristo in the Philippines welcomed 2016 with a bang — it set off hundreds of thousands of fireworks for an hour at midnight on Dec. 31, 2015. Oh, and it all happened in pouring rain.

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