Fireworks a July 4 tradition, but mostly made in China


Courtesy of the American Red Cross

Fireworks are a grand tradition that celebrates American independence, but fireworks are predominately made in China.

Mike Lawson, a Springdale City Council member who runs Phoenix Fireworks, located at the 1800 block of Pleasant Street next to Northwest Tire Service, takes a look at the packaging of the fireworks that are his most popular sellers.

“[500 gram] cakes are made in China… reloadable shells made in China… everything’s pretty well China,” Lawson said.

The U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics data tracked through April 2018 shows that over 94 percent of fireworks imported to the United States are made in China.

Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, told NPR in July 2018 that 99 percent of backyard consumer fireworks come directly from China and around 70 percent of professional display fireworks are manufactured in China.

Once upon a time, fireworks were a major American product. NPR reported that companies in the Midwest were major fireworks manufacturers. American Fireworks — based in Hudson, Ohio, and founded in 1902 by Vincenzo Sorgi — was one of those companies. Now, American Fireworks receives much of its product from China.

When the American bicentennial rolled around in 1976, firework demand surpassed what U.S. companies could supply, so they started importing fireworks from Italy, Mexico and especially China, NPR reported.

The Chinese invented fireworks around 200 BC. People in Liyuan, China, created fireworks by throwing bamboo stalks into pits of fire. Around 600 AD, Chinese alchemists came up with a gun-powder remedy by stuffing charcoal, sulfur and potassium into bamboo and lighting it with a torch, according to National Geographic.

“This was later used as weaponry in the form of missiles,” National Geographic states.

The American fireworks industry feared that President Donald Trump’s threat to impose $300 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods would cause fireworks prices to climb. However, Trump chose to hold off on imposing the tariffs.

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