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The Real Cost of July 4, from NYC to Nashville

By Lewis Braham - 2012-06-26T20:34:29Z

Photograph by Luo Xianmi/ChinaFotoPress/Zuma Press

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The first fireworks were invented in China in the 10th century. Today some 90 percent of the fireworks Americans buy to celebrate the birth of our nation come from that country. "China basically priced us out of the fireworks market years ago," says John Rogers, executive director of trade group American Fireworks Standards Laboratory. About 90 percent of the $649 million consumers spent on fireworks in 2011 was for July 4 -- some 212.1 million pounds. Among the most popular with families is the "500 gram cake," a multi-shot box of fireworks that lets you light only one fuse (from about $28 to as high as $120, depending on the effects).