Clocking in at the number 10 slot, don’t sleep on sparklers. (Literally or otherwise.) Though they only last roughly 30 seconds, the firepower is greater than anything a 10-year-old’s ever carried in their hands. Sure, they’re kinda dinky, but the best fireworks have to be…or else, ya know, kids will blow their dumb little hands off (see above).
9. TNT Poppers
More party favor than firework, they still count, and TNT Poppers still serve that wonderful purpose of antagonizing your sister all day. Buy these on the cheap, and you'll stay entertained all night long.
8. Artillery Shells
Available in just half of our glorious union's states, artillery shells, or “mortars,” are the easiest and cheapest way to put on a display resembling the pros’ explosions in the sky. Since setting mortars off involves lighting a small projectile's fuse and dropping it into a launcher tube, a certain militaristic appeal will likely wash over you. Without a doubt, one of the best bangs for your buck—cheap ones often retail for under $10.
7. Roman Candles
Whomever dreamed up the Roman Candle—those Slim Jim-sized sticks that eject a single whooshing fireball every few seconds—likely intended ‘em to eject from the ground. Nice try. That person presumably never met a gaggle of teens just looking to blow each other’s hands and faces off, as America’s youth recognized these things for what they truly are: Firework Handguns. Lovely, but dangerous. Proceed with caution.
Don’t pretend like you’re too cool for the parachutes. Why are these cool? Because not only do you get the blast-off, you get the spectacle AND THEN the little soldier flies back down to Earth for you to a) catch/drop b) proudly display on a shelf in your room. Yes, we are grown, well-adjusted adults, and we still do this.
5. 16-Shot Cakes
The key here is longevity. These guys pierce the evening sky with loud, screaming missile shots that litter every backyard in your neighborhood and send every dog scurrying to the baseball for at least a few minutes. (That part about the dogs sucks—keep 'em indoors.) But if you’re in an open space away from animals, light this bad boy, sit back, and just enjoy the high-pitched screeches.
F#@% we love these things! Does any other firework stay true to its name like the bees? These damn things buzz like they've been set on fire (oh, right), spin out of control, then zip all around your backyard like the possessed demons they are. Like in real life, God only knows where a bee is headed (your throat, usually), and the firework versions are no different. Heads up!
3. Bottle Rockets
Probably the most iconic firework, bottle rockets are so potentially dangerous that Canada banned them. (Ugh, of course they did.) Fun game? Lighting bottle rockets out of the back of a moving pickup truck. It’s essentially Red Dawn: The Home Game. Can you think of something more American? Yeah, neither can we.
Few empty cans of soda, handful of M-80s...what more could a couple’a teenagers want? Perhaps the most basic firecracker available, the M-80 owes its appeal to a simplistic goal: blow sh*t up in the loudest, quickest, most ferocious way possible. The size of a wine cork (typically 1.5 inches), M-80s are cheap, effective, and will get you into a ton of trouble if used improperly—they often hold up to three ounces of flash powder per unit and account for thousands of injuries in the US each year. In many countries, M-80s are illegal and considered explosive devices that will land you in jail. But damnit if they aren’t fun.
Anyone can make a big, sparkly explosion, but want to know what’s really hard? Creating a massive black snake out of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Part Medusa, part horrific mess, but 100 percent awesome, the Black Snake firework takes our No. 1 spot if only because it conjures up driveway demons of the deep, wiggling around for your grotesque enjoyment.