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Uploaded on Apr 28, 2009

A true Cherry Bomb is a relatively spherical firecracker, typically 3/4 inch in diameter, with an outer coating of sawdust bound with sodium silicate and dyed red. These are not as powerful as a true M-80. Both M-80s and "Cherry Bombs" are illegal in the United States, so don't buy them even if you encounter them. You are breaking the law if you sell, possess or use these in the United States. Some countries, such as Germany, Mexico and the Phillippines, may allow large firecrackers similar to these to be sold, but in the United States today, any firecracker sold to the public cannot contain more than 50 milligrams (.05 grams) of pyrotechnic composition per cracker. No matter what the shape, size or design of a firecracker, if it has more than 50 milligrams of powder in it, it's illegal in the United States.

Up until 1966, large firecrackers such as M-80s and cherry bombs were legal in the United States, and anyone could buy them and shoot them off. If you look through old fireworks catalogs from the 1930s, '40s and '50s, you will see these and even larger firecrackers advertised, all of them perfectly legal at that time. But it all ended in 1966. The Child Protection Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1966, specifically banned these devices. In 1976, the federal regulations were rewritten specifying a limit of 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic composition for any firecracker sold to the public in the United States, and that limit is still in effect today. It doesn't matter what they look like or what they are shaped like - ground firecrackers can only contain 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic content per cracker. (Aerial "reports," which are contained within aerial devices such as rockets and shells, can contain up to 129.6 milligrams of composition per report.)

The legitimate fireworks market today includes some "novelty" firecrackers called "M-60", "M-70", "M-88", "M-90" and so on. These are not M-80s, they are regular 50 milligram firecrackers made to look like M-80s or "Silver Salutes," another old type of firecracker now banned. These novelty firecrackers are legal to sell to the public, in states that allow firecrackers, because they contain no more than 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic content. They are nowhere near as poweful as a true M-80 or a true cherry bomb. The names used for these ("M-60", "M-70", "M-88", "M-90" and so on) are basically meaningless marketing gimmicks.

Further complicating and confusing the matter is that there are brands of legal firecrackers, sold in strings, actually called "M-80 Brand" and "Cherry Bomb Brand". These are also legal firecrackers, containing only 50 milligrams of powder per cracker. People may buy these thinking they are actual M-80s, but they are nowhere near as powerful as a true M-80. It's a sorry and sad marketing ploy that these names are even used on legal fireworks, and that some legitimate fireworks dealers will list these and sell these without necessarily explaining that they are legal firecrackers, and the only relation they have to "real" M-80s or cherry bombs is in the name.

Unfortunately, the decision to ban actual M-80s and cherry bombs has resulted in a black market for the "real things." I don't know where they are made, but it is not in the legitimate fireworks industry. They are only sold on an "underground" basis, in other words, no legitimate fireworks dealer carries them, or at least should carry them! Any legitimate fireworks dealer who does offer them should not be in the fireworks business. They cause a substantial percentage, if not the majority, of the injuries associated with "fireworks" each year.

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