1 x Christmas Hat with ‘DERMATITIS?’ written on
1 x pair of yellow rubber gloves
1 x piece of paper reading ‘CRACKER FACTORY WORKERS SUFFER ‘FULMINATE ITCH’
by Tom Van Klaveren
The Fulminate Itch
You don’t really expect rubber gloves from a Christmas cracker do you? In reality they are a much more appropriate gift then you might imagine.
The snap of a Christmas cracker is made using a compound called silver fulminate. This compound is so explosive that even in small quantities it has the potential to explode under its own weight, it has no other practical use other than trick noise makers such as those found in crackers (link). Yet people who work with it daily, bonding two cardboard strips coated in silver fulminate mixed with grit are risking contact dermatitis (White and Rycroft, 1982).
Dermatitis is a skin inflammation caused by contact with dangerous substances that results in itching and burning (link). People working in cracker factories have been said to be suffering from the ‘fulminate itch’.
Bet you didn’t know that such a dangerous substance was at the heart of your few seconds of Christmas excitement? No wonder their classified under the same legislation as fireworks! (link).
So maybe the gloves weren’t so odd after all?