Last week, the Tampa Bay Times rounded up some of the wackiest fireworks at their local explosives shop. Among them: “Waking up the Gators,” “Pyrocumulus Cloud Buster," "The Ultimate Man Card,” and “THE END!”
It got us wondering: does the selection up north rival that of the south, where fireworks are legal in nearly every state? In Illinois, anything that leaves the ground is of course verboten. Indiana, on the other hand, is pretty much the wild west, so we headed to Hammond to check out the haul at three shops.
The answer, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, is that Indiana fireworks are just as tacky as Tampa fireworks. The labels we found violate pretty much every basic principle of graphic design, using copyrighted characters and imagery—often both sexual and violent—with abandon.
Case in point:
Works of art they are not. But there’s something to these images that speaks to the American subconscious. Fireworks are, if not a reflection of our cultural zeitgeist, at least a snapshot of what advertisers believe will sell in our country. (As far as novelty explosives go, anyway.)
Below, a sampling of the strangest, silliest, and most puzzling fireworks from our field trip—organized by our best guess at the target audience.
For the doomsday prepper
Why is there a tank rolling up the Statue of Liberty?
For the copyright lawyer
That squirrel looks… awfully familiar.
For the errant Brony
It’s not for you, it’s for your friend.
For the cold beer drinker
It’s a macro.
For the high
Which will be legalized first in Illinois: fireworks or marijuana?
For the embittered Chicagoan
Odds are you’ve survived a few of these.
For sticking it to the coastal elites
Illegal in the Golden State, fair game in Indiana.
For the sex positive
The look in their eyes says it all.
For the bad dog
Easier to clean up after than the real thing.
For the Deadliest Catch stan
This label, unlike most, is officially licensed.
For the… patriotism-slash-skydiving enthusiast?
Nothing says America like free-falling from 30,000 feet.
For your Instagram
Not sure what the theme is here, but how could you not buy this?
(Marketed) for children
(Not actually for children.)
For… who knows
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