Where did all the phosphorus sesquisulfide go? By phosphorus sesquisulfide, I mean strike anywhere matches. I haven’t seen them in years and in most states, they’re illegal to sell. That’s because they have been deemed as “dangerous goods” by the government. Well, leave it to them to nanny us out of some of the most convenient innovations in our lifetimes. Oh, strike anywhere matches, how I miss thee!
The convenience of strike anywhere matches is in the name. They could be lit with enough friction on just about everything. Here’s a list of some of the most creative ways my friends, brothers, and I figured out how to light them in our youth:
- On zippers, front teeth, other strike anywhere matches, a finger nail, toys, sidewalks, shoes, watches, the edges of school books, bricks, trees, bicycle tires, the telephone (cell phones weren’t widely-owned yet), cereal boxes, bowling balls, forks, stale bread, the metal on a pencil, computer speakers, and (are you sitting down for this one?) even ice cubes.
Were we pyromaniacs? I don’t think so. I’d rather our creative, inclination to ignite be called something along the lines of . . . how should we say . . . thinking outside the box. In retrospect, I can’t say we were smart about everything we did with strike anywhere matches.
We had a particularly entertaining game we played called “burn the forest.” Sounds safe, right? Anyway, it goes like this. Two players each gather a pile of dead leaves and put it in front of them. They set up facing each other about ten to twenty feet apart from each other (depending on how skilled they are). Each player has their own regular-sized, 250-count box of strike anywhere matches. The concept is simple: burn the other player’s pile of leaves first. To do this, the match box (or anything rough, for that matter) is turned on its side so that the striking side is face up. A match is stood up vertically with one finger holding it and with the head of the match to the box. With the other hand, the player takes aim at the opposing “forest” and flicks the match at the base. The friction lights the match and it fully ignites by the time it reaches the other player’s leaves. The players take turns until one pile burns down.
There are plenty of other irresponsible ways we found to waste perfectly good strike anywhere matches. If something was flammable, knew about it. Camping with open flame might as well have been called camping with open fun. In all seriousness, however, I don’t condone playing with fire. . . unless maybe it’s controlled . . . and supervised . . . and involves strike anywhere matches.
By: S. Cole Garrett