39 4th of July Facts and History That Are So Weird
July 4, 2021, is gonna be a great summer holiday to reflect on our nation’s history, to remember the men and women who’ve sacrificed for our freedoms, and to relax and enjoy the reopening of the nation after the significant losses of the pandemic.
We hope you’ll be spending time with family and friends, appreciating the joys in your life. But since you can only hug folks so long, we’ve provided this list of weird and wonderful facts about the Fourth of July holiday. Share them as you’re waiting for the grill to heat up or the drinks to cool down. We’ve got you covered for conversation — this list has more trivia bits than you can shake a sparkler at!
Hot Tip – Speaking of grill outs, if you are looking for some bangin’ recipes and party ideas, you’ll have to head over to our latest blog here!
39 4th of July Facts and History That Are So Weird But Definitely Not Fake News
The Fourth of July. Independence Day. Our founding fathers all gathered around a table to sign a monumental paper together in Philly. It feels so naturally woven into the fabric of our nation’s history, that it almost could be real.
1. It’s now becoming more common knowledge that the Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed on July 4, 1776.
2. That’s just when the document was formally dated and adopted by the Continental Congress, which had officially voted for independence on July 2 (the day John Adams thought we should celebrate). In fact, the bulk of the document’s signatures were made on an official, finalized copy of the document on Aug. 2.
3. And according to the History channel, Adams was so steadfast in his belief that July 2 was the real date on which to celebrate U.S. independence that he reportedly turned down invitations to appear at July 4 events in protest. We’re here for that kind of ’tude, but we’re also sad he missed some chances to celebrate.
Our proposed compromise? It’s fine nowadays to start your fun on July 2 and to keep it going through July 4.
The Oldest Annual July 4 Celebration Has Been Held Since 1785
4. Talk about drawing the celebration out! Congress may have only made July 4 a paid federal holiday in 1941, but the beautiful town of Bristol, Rhode Island, was WAY ahead of them. The historic town has been celebrating the stars and stripes on July 4 since 1785.
5. In fact, they’re so pumped about parades and patriotism that they start with red, white and blue entertainment each Flag Day in June! Throughout the period between the two holidays, the city hosts a bundle of events, including a concert series at Independence Park, fireworks, a Firefighters Muster and a Fourth of July Ball.
Best 4th of July Fireworks
6. Want to know where some of the biggest and best fireworks displays in the United States are? Look no further than the 44th annual Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks in New York; the Independence Day fireworks on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; the Boston Pops July 4th Spectacular in Lenox, Massachusetts; and the Let Freedom Sing celebration, the largest fireworks show ever created in Nashville, Tennessee. (which includes music from country star Brad Paisley).
Hot Tip – Looking for more places where you can see the 4th of July fireworks this year? Check out the top shows across the nation in our latest blog here!
Americans Spend $1 Billion on Personal Fireworks Each Season
Some of y’all are blowing up a lot of bucks for your bang! Well, it wouldn’t be the Fourth without setting off some personal fireworks, and the demand for backyard dazzlers has never been higher.
7. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, U.S. consumers bought nearly $1.9 billion worth of fireworks last year. That’s 386 million pounds of fireworks sold in 2020 (an unprecedented amount compared with past figures). Much of that has to do with state and local communities relaxing laws about fireworks (and possibly some pent-up COVID purchases).
8. In an ironic economic twist, a whopping 99% of consumer fireworks are imported from China.
Fireworks Send About 7,300 Folks to the ER Annually Around July 4
Here’s some figures we’ll need all our fingers to count:
9. Out of the estimated 10,000 fireworks injuries treated in U.S. hospitals in 2019, about 7,300 of those occurred between June 21 and July 21, according to a special study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
10. An estimated 57% of the injuries were burns, and the most injured body parts are the hands, legs, face, ears and eyes.
11. Make what you will of the fact that of those 7,300 estimated injuries, 66% were to males and 34% were to females. Come on guys, keep it together.
12. Nearly half of the estimated ER-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20.
Perhaps with age comes wisdom — or survival. Visit the CPSC’s website for tips on keeping your loved ones in one piece this firework season.
More Pets Run Away on July 4 Than on Any Other Day of the Year
13. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more than 10 million pets run away or are stolen each year in the U.S., and the biggest day for disappearances is Independence Day.
Loud fireworks and large gatherings can frighten dogs (and cats), making them panic and run.
Tips to Keep Pets Calm During Fireworks
- If your fur-baby is prone to flight, keep them in a secure, interior room of the house. Soothing music or a snugly fitting T-shirt can help anxious pets feel protected.
- If your four-legged friend is merely curious about fireworks, make sure they can’t bite or paw at home-lit displays — even spent fireworks can be hot enough for burns.
- Visit the ASPCA’s website for more tips about how to keep your pets safe during fireworks season. Some local shelters even offer free microchipping around this time — check with yours to find out!
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
14. The contest record: 75 dogs!
Truly a test of gastronomic champions, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest is held every year on July 4 at its iconic location in Coney Island, New York. Contenders for the coveted Mustard Belt have 10 minutes to eat — and keep down — as many hot dogs as they can.
15. The 2020 champs chowed down with record-breaking wins: 13-time champ Joey Chestnut devoured 75 dogs for the men’s competition, and Miki Sudo became a seven-time champ and the new women’s world record holder at 48.5 dogs!
16. According to Nathan’s, winners of the contest have eaten about 1,500 Nathan’s Famous beef franks since the first recorded contest in 1972.
17. If you can’t be one of the estimated 40,000 people who watch the contest in person, be one of the 2 million who watch it on ESPN.
How Much Do Americans Spend on Food and Drinks During the 4th of July?
18. Americans spend about $7 billion on food for the Fourth.
And that number could be bigger (now that limits on gatherings have relaxed after being regulated in 2020 during the pandemic).
19. The National Retail Federation anticipates that Americans will be buying $7.52 billion worth of food for their homespun holiday celebrations, mainly cookouts or picnics.
20. That’s an average of about $80 per person.
21. For those of you really keeping score at home, data in 2018 found that Americans spent $631 million on fresh beef, $100 million on hot dogs and $124 million on sausages.
Eating more veggies, what’s that? We’ll start on July 5.
22. We’re just happy to be part of the 84% of Americans planning to celebrate Independence Day this year as opposed to the 76% who said they celebrated with food last year.
23. To wash that food down, we spend $1.56 billion on beer and wine
24. That’s a whole lotta red, white and brews. According to a report from WalletHub, estimated spending on beer during the 2018 Fourth of July holiday was $1 billion, with an additional $568 million-plus spent on wine.
25. In fact, Independence Day has eclipsed Memorial Day, Labor Day and even the Super Bowl as the No. 1 holiday for at-home beer consumption. Cheers!
A lot of July 4 Party Decor Doesn’t Observe the U.S. Flag Code
The sight of the stars and stripes stirs many proud and festive emotions. But seeing Old Glory on paper plates, napkins, bikinis, board shorts, trucker hats and flip-flops doesn’t give everyone the warm fuzzies like you might think.
26. About 26% of Americans specifically buy patriotic products for Fourth.
27. But the U.S. Flag Code explicitly states that the flag should never “be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”; “be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything”; “be used as a costume or athletic uniform”; and “should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.”
That said, examples of such are everywhere in our culture, and there’s no real punishment for poor etiquette.
Just keep in mind — on this holiday, at least — that the flag represents U.S. freedoms and the sacrifices (often by our nation’s military) necessary to uphold them.
What’s the ‘Mystery’ Text on the Back of the Declaration of Independence?
Paging Nic Cage, paging Mr. Nicolas Cage.
29. Yes, there’s something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence, but, according to the History channel, it’s merely “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776” written upside-down across the bottom of the signed document.
30. Who wrote it? No one knows, but according to the article, it may have been added as simple label during the Revolutionary War years, when the document was moved often.
Glad we helped dispel that notion of invisible clues to treasure written there — OR DID WE?
Training at West Point
31. Training at West Point Military Academy was born on the Fourth of July.
32. In March 1802, the U.S. Congress passed the act establishing the famous United States Military Academy West Point.
33. But the service academy of the U.S. Army officially opened to cadets on July 4 that same year.
34. Today, about 1,300 cadets enter the Academy each July, with about 1,000 cadets graduating. Its alumni and students are collectively referred to as “The Long Gray Line,” and the Academy’s ranks include two U.S. Presidents and more than 75 Medal of Honor recipients.
More like this: How to Become a West Point Cadet: In-Depth Guide
More Cool 4th of July Facts
35. Know who else was born on the Fourth of July? Our nation’s 30th Commander-in-Chief, Calvin Coolidge, in 1872.
36. At 2 p.m. every July 4th, the Liberty Bell rings 13 times.
This iconic symbol of American Independence hangs in the Liberty Bell Center of Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia, just across the street from the famed Independence Hall. On every Fourth of July, at 2 p.m. Eastern time, descendants of Declaration signers symbolically tap the Liberty Bell 13 times while bells across the nation also ring 13 times in honor of the patriots from the original 13 states. From the southern end of the complex, the bell is visible from the street 24 hours a day. We’d count ourselves lucky to see and hear those 13 chimes one day.
37. ‘Independence Day’ earned $104 million in its opening week
Big props to you if you were one of the movie-goers who helped this sci-fi action film — starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum and Randy Quaid — blow the box office away in 1996.
38. In fact, “Independence Day” ended up being the highest-grossing film of the year, beating other heavies such as “Mission Impossible,” “Twister” and “Scream.”
39. Made on a budget of $75 million, “Independence Day” earned total box office returns of $817.4 million. Not bad for betting on Earth to bring the beatdown to attacking aliens!
Looking to stream other films with some Fourth flavor or nods to U.S. history?
Visit JustWatch.com to search how you can see hits such as “National Treasure” (of course), “1776,” “Hamilton,” “Damn Yankees,” “The Sandlot,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Army of the Dead” (2001), “Air Force One,” “Top Gun,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and the granddaddy of all summer blockbusters, “Jaws.”
Hot Tip – We also have the list of the best 21 Military movies to stream right now in our trending blog here.
The year 1776 has given us uncountable reasons to celebrate in these United States. We hope this historic (and maybe head-scratching) list of trivia has entertained and might even kickstart some conversations over cold ones with family and friends this summer. Have a three, two, one, BLAST this Fourth of July!