Growing up, I had friends who taped together tin cans to make a long tube that was sealed off at one end. They stuffed a tennis ball in the other end, squirted in some lighter fluid, held a match to it and VOOMPH! the tennis ball was projected across the room.

About 30 years later, I learned that this was called a potato cannon. (I’m culturally illiterate and slow to catch up.) Over the years potato cannons have become much more than tin cans taped together.

They’ve gone commercial. You can buy all kinds of these on the internet including large shoulder-mounted ones (potato bazookas). Why make something when you can just buy it? Jeff Bezos wants to take more rocket ship rides.

Of course, if you want to be real, you can go beyond Chinese-made models and build yourself a beastly powerful cannon and fire pumpkins. Instead of lighter fluid it uses hydrogen ethyl ether and can launch a good size pumpkin up to a mile. It can do bowling balls, too.

It’s great for returning unwanted gifts.

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