Does anyone else remember these from the 1980’s? They went by a number of different names and brands — “Snaps,” “Snappers,” “Pop-Its” and “Bang-Snaps,” to name a few. They were basically little tissue-paper tadpoles full of the same stuff that was in caps for your cap-gun. (It was actually a trace amount of the impressive-sounding “silver fulminate high explosive.” I remember reading that off the box as a kid and being very, very happy with it.)
They were perfectly harmless, though. The Wikipedia entry for “Bang-snaps” has a rather admirable breakdown of their innocuous physics.
I and the other kids on my street loved them. We considered them fireworks, albeit very tiny ones. But they were legal in New York. (Genuine fireworks were not.) You could buy them at the drug store. It was like some glorious oversight in the world of adults that unwittingly allowed us fun that we shouldn’t be having.
Come to think of it … I’m willing to bet that a lot of kids these days don’t even know what a cap-gun is. Those were on their way out by the 80’s — I only remember having them as a tot at the tail end of the 1970’s.