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Watch us set off $50 worth of fireworks [a review, with explosives]

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With America’s birthday just around the corner, pyromaniacs, preteens, and average citizens alike are getting excited to light up TNT-filled firetraps. With so many options, choosing a firework can be a sparkle in the dark — especially if you are trying to entertain a crowd that's only momentarily raptured by the spectacle. 

This week, we stopped by a fireworks vendor to purchase a mega-pack of entertainment for about $50 (see above). Using our set criteria, we set out to rank our experience with each variety.

So, time for a mandatory safety reminder: Read up on what you’re lighting before a screech or a far-reaching spark catches you off guard. Step back before lighting, don’t put these things in a surprise location, and wear shoes and pants.

Also, avoid the smoke unless you're cool with smelling like a hard-boiled egg.

Now, on to the explosives! Name: Flashing Fountain

Crackling Glory

Crackling Glory

What it sounds like it should be: A pool party in your friend’s bird fountain.

What it really does: Emits a demure spark shower alongside a less demure odor.

Our overall impressions: These things are simple, small, and unassuming. They're great as a warmup and for children.

Rating: * Name: Meemie

What it sounds like it should be: A loving name for a family member.

What it really does: Releases unsettling screeches and Christmas-colored sparks.

Overall impressions: These are useful if you need to grab the crowd’s attention, but seems to have been designed by someone who was confused about which holiday the firework was for.

Rating: ** Name: Sparkling Glory

What it sounds like it should be: A participation award at a Dance Moms competition.

What it really does: This thing releases orange sparkler showers with red, white, and blue crackling explosions.

Overall impressions: It's thematically correct, but creatively lackluster.

Rating: ** Name: Dancing Sombreros

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What it sounds like it should be: The cultural appropriation firework of the Freedom Package.

What it really does: These alternate between colorful showers and white shooters. 

Overall impressions: This one is long and varied, but since it doesn’t make the shape of a sombrero out of flames, we docked one star for the name.

Rating: *** Name: Magic Cube Fountain

What it sounds like it should be: A nerdy magician’s favorite pastime.

What it really does: These quickly throw streaming, colorful sparks out.

Overall impressions: Magic Cube Fountain is a short and simple firework with a fuse that is too hard to find in the dark.

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Rating: ** Name: Pyro Fire

What it sounds like it should be: Redundant.

What it really does: This gives a long but predictable show. This is a "mono-work," a firework that only does one display without any wow factor at the end. An awkward pause before reacting at the end is inevitable.

Overall impressions: This is the poorest choice if you’re trying to rouse a crowd, but it does work great as an interlude if you like to create story arcs with your fireworks.

Rating: ***

Name: Global Lights

Dancing Sombreros

Dancing Sombreros

What it sounds like it should be: A hope-filled, philanthropic ad campaign.

What it really does: NOTHING. MISFIRE.

Overall impressions: A misfire is the scariest kind of firework. At any point, it may still go off and scorch your eyebrows. “Would not recommend,” she said as she filled in her brows.

Rating: ZERO

Name: Crackling Glory

What it sounds like it should be: This sounds like a ripoff of the aforementioned Sparkling Glory, but maybe it's a superlative award instead of a participation prize.

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What it really does: This guy upstages the similarly named firework with its pompom-style blasts that transition into long sparkles and end in a glorious combination of the two.

Overall impressions: The was the first great firework of the bunch.

Rating: **** Name: Razzle Dazzle

What it sounds like it should be: An old-timey candy you can only buy on eBay.

What it really does: Razzle Dazzle shows off a long, fun, dazzling display with many different parts.

Overall impressions: An instinct to choose a big box for a big firework has proven to be overwhelmingly correct.

Rating: ***** Name: Radiant

The Flashing Fountain

The Flashing Fountain

What it sounds like it should be: Full of itself, but with an admittedly great complexion.

What it really does: Much like the Razzle Dazzle, so many things.

Overall impressions: Our (very) informal testing shows a statistically significant relationship between a larger firework and a better light show.

Rating: *****