The Real Cost of Celebrating July 4th

By Lewis Braham and Nikhil Hutheesing - 2013-06-28T15:04:23Z

Photograph by ChinaFotoPress/AP Photo

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The first fireworks were invented in China in the 10th century. Today some 99 percent of the fireworks Americans buy to celebrate the birth of our nation come from that country. "We have regulated the industry to death, and the since fireworks are made by hand, it is very labor intensive," explains Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. About 90 percent of the $645 million consumers spent on fireworks in 2012 was for July 4 -- some 207.5 million pounds. Among the most popular with families are the "500 gram cake," a multishot box of fireworks that lets you light only one fuse (cost ranges from about $20 to as high as $100, depending on the effects).