Here's A Great Idea: Non-Childproof Lighters That Look Like Toys

Reader “homer simpson” found these lighters at a Fred’s Super Dollar Store in his home state of Mississippi. The lighters are not childproof and are displayed next to the check out counter where kids can reach them. What a great idea. “homer simpson” writes:

Every time i go there my 3 yr. old tries to grab them off the counter, they look very appealing to him. At Christmastime they even had ones that looked like snowmen and Santa, and they would light up with LEDs and play music.

Any help i can get is appreciated, i know other people who have tried to get the store to stop selling them with no avail. I don’t know how people are supposed to teach their kids not to play with fire when kids can’t even tell the difference between a toy and a lighter.

More photos inside.


We’re not about child-proofing the planet or anything, but these lighters do seem a little stupid. —MEGHANN MARCO


Edit Your Comment

  1. C’mon, this is the deep south.

    People buy car-wraps in camoflage, then lose their cars in the woods around here ferchrissake.

    Besides, the number of young smokers here is dropping, and RJ Reynolds needed something to keep them flicking their Bics.

  2. simian-fever says:

    in another year or two you probably won’t be allowed to light a cigarette within the Milky Way galaxy thus destroying the market… so its a mute point.

  3. Seems like the easiest solution would be to just place them higher out of children’s reach. I think it’s dumb to make something that spouts fire look like a toy but moving the product should solve homer’s in-store problem.

    After that all you have to do is not buy the product. If it doesn’t sell they’ll stop stocking them.

  4. LearningForever says:

    Some people would just do anything for a profit. The next thing people will do is to package drugs into candies and say that they are cool and good for you. No wonder the country is having so many problems with the young. It is because of evil retailers.

  5. JohnMc says:

    Rectilinear Propagation, in the store yes! But what about when a parent buys something like this then leaves it lying around the house. I see problems for those with young children.

  6. Red_Eye says:

    Umm CPSC.GOV call them heck, thats just a death waiting to happen, I cant believe the Fred’s management is that effing stupid! No wonder my wife says she never wants to go in there.

  7. gapboyt says:

    How about not going to the store so you don’t need to worry about your children.

    One of the best things you can always do is not give your money to the store you have an issue with.

  8. Hexum2600 says:

    See! I knew someone was going to take notice of all the corporate bashing around here! First razors, now child friendly lighters… They’re after your kids!

  9. MBPharmD says:

    I’m not a lawyer but I think lighters are regulated by the CPSC and usually required to be childproof:

    I’m not normally one to suggest government involvement, but did you try sumitting a formal complaint with the CPSC?

  10. @JohnMc: Why would the parent buy a lighter that looks like a toy?

    Most parents with any sense aren’t going to buy something dangerous disguised as a children’s toy. From the article it sounds like other people saw right away that kids would want to play with it so homer isn’t the only one who sees the problem here.

  11. georget99 says:

    Call the local fire department. They may decide it’s a fire hazard or may find some law about butane storage that can do it.

  12. Red_Eye says:
  13. KevinQ says:

    16 C.F.R. 1210.1 et seq, says that it is against the law to sell novelty lighters that can be operated by children under the age of 5.

    Here’s a link to the proper code:

    I’d call whoever in the state is responsible for customer issues, such as the state’s attorney general’s office, and lodge a complaint against the store. They’re probably not allowed to import them, much less sell them.

    Also, I am not a lawyer, and that was not legal advice. Talk with a qualified lawyer in your state about legal options.


  14. TimW077 says:

    This product helps make America stronger through Natural Selection. ™

    It is part of the plan to allow, and encourage people to remove themselves from the gene pool.

    I can see the houses burning down now. :(

  15. buck09 says:

    I love the background of the image. Oreos, Mountain Dew and Netflix envelopes. It may as well be my home office.

  16. thewaz says:

    Give them some Cardboard Furniture while you’re at it..

  17. pestie says:

    Just don’t have children! Jeez.

  18. Rajio says:

    what kind of adult uses these?

    heck; what kind of adolescent uses them?

  19. rockergal says:

    I would buy em

  20. Rajio says:

    i guess that answers that then :P

  21. MattyMatt says:

    The obvious solution is to teach your children not to play with toys.

  22. brattpowered says:

    I don’t think childproof lighters would really go over too well in Mississippi, if you know what I mean.

  23. Michael Bauser says:

    No, the obvious solution is to let your kid grab one off the store counter and set the store on fire. That would get Fred’s Super Dollar to stand up and take notice.

  24. guroth says:

    That is awesome, I want the bear one to give to my girlfriend!

  25. Nicholai says:

    The consumerist should keep an eye on this……. See how long it is before it gets recalled……

  26. ElizabethD says:

    Holy smokes! heh heh

    I like Michael_Bauser’s idea, above. C’mon baby, light Fred’s fire.

  27. matt1978 says:

    They have these things at Dollar General, also.

  28. lawnmowerdeth says:

    The problem isn’t the lighters, it’s parents who leave lighters within the reach of children, whether they look like toys or not. I also applaud the submitter for paying attention to his child at the store!

  29. lostsynapse says:

    Is it just me or is this a clever ploy to ease up the supply side of the current housing crisis?

  30. adamondi says:

    I doubt they are going to get recalled any time soon. I work in a merchandising department of a company that owns convenience stores. We have a novelty products supplier that tries to foist literally hundreds of similar toy-shaped lighters on us all the time. I have a couple of merchandising samples here on my desk that would also alarm people. One is a lighter shaped like a NASCAR helmet, and the other is a toy truck that just happens to shoot a jet of flame out of one of its tailpipes. I kept them because I couldn’t believe the stupidity of making lighters that look like toys. They have been added to my gallery of stupidity that I have encountered here at my job.

  31. OnceWasCool says:

    Kids just need to toughen up! Sure, they will burn themselves, but how else are they going to learn that fire is hot.

    Think about it. We played with Lawn Darts, Clackers (glass balls on a string), and built tons of camp fires with just a few twigs and gas. Our Coke was made with real sugar and our cereal not only had real sugar but we used whole milk. We only wore seat belts if we were going to jump something or drive really really fast. We owned guns and carried pocket knives even to school. Stuff was fried in lard or real butter. Rubbers were for sailors not for normal folk. Even a 5 year old could buy cigarettes if he had a quarter.

    So give a kid a lighter that looks like a toy so he can catch his clothes on fire in front of his friends. That is a real education! :)

  32. I found some very similar lighters at Cheap Jacks here in midtown Manhattan.


  33. Jory says:

    Darwin’s natural selection.

  34. superlayne says:

    The bear is frighteningly adorable.

    Were they open on display, or wrapped in plastic?

  35. How about we just teach our kids about fire safety? When I was a kid the threat of getting my ass severely beat by my mother was enough incentive to not play with matches/lighters. Lets quit complaining about the product, and go after people who can’t buy and use it responsibly. I’m looking at you, parent who buys a toy shaped lighter and then throws it in the toy chest.

  36. FLConsumer says:

    You damn killjoys! Didn’t any of you play with matches, play in traffic, etc as a kid? How are our kids supposed to learn the joys (and pain) of pyromania? Just like the fruit-scented markers for kids. You start them off with those and by high school they’re into the Sharpies. These lighters are just preparing them to handle Zippos with style.

  37. Trai_Dep says:

    And exactly HOW is lil’ Timmy going to buy such lighters?

    I don’t see a problem. If parents buy the damn things, then parents can keep them out of kids’ reach. Or tan their hides bloody (yay! Deep South!!) if they don’t. (Other locales’ parents can speak to their kids)

    If parents don’t buy them, also problem solved.

    PS: bring back lawn darts. never saw them but they sound AWESOME. Almost as good as Razor Boomerang or Throwing Hatchet Catcher’s Mit!!

  38. JohnMc says:

    Rectilinear, my only comeback, and I mean this kindly and not directed at you, is how many indicents have you heard of people imitating scenes in the “JackAss” movie? Need I say more? I am never surprised by the level of lunacy expressed by many Americans.

    Sadly not all parents are responsible and many are not much more than children themselves.

  39. AcidReign says:

    …..I got by with buying 3 boxes of Fire Chief wooden, strike-anywhere matches at K-mart when I was 10. It was a great investment. I took my exacto knife, cut all of the heads off, and filled several model airplanes my mom had told me I had to get rid of because the brothers’ bedroom was too crowded. I lit those suckers up in the driveway, and made several big indelible black stains on the nice white concrete! I got a dozen pops with the very thin, leather 1950s-style belt for that antic!

    …..I hate how narrow checkout aisles are in general. Your toddlers will start pulling everything off the shelf if you don’t hold their hands down. Then everyone complains about the screaming. Sigh. Our revenge was to let the little ones do whatever they wanted with the little coupon dispensers sticking out from the store shelves. Made a big mess on every aisle…

  40. embean says:

    “C’mon, this is the deep south.”
    They sell these in Canada at 7/11.
    They have a pig one identical to that bear.

  41. FLConsumer says:

    JohnMC: Agreed about the parents AS children comment, but let’s let social Darwinism clean up the gene pool. From the looks of things, the gene pool could use a few thousand gallons of bleach.

  42. Designersheets says:

    These things are in an open box on the counter right near boxes of candy and other point of purchase toys they try to lure people to buy. With in reach of any child standing next to it. And there is a real big problem with people leaving their kids unsupervised around here. I am not originally from here, but i just find this appalling. There isn’t a lot of options around here to shop, it’s about 30 miles to the nearest city big enough to have a Wallyworld. Oh and it’s not Mountain Dew, it’s sprite :) I don’t think the local government will do anything about this, i hope someone out there has the authority to fix this. Thanks Consumerist, i love your site.

  43. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Yep, for sale, right next to Baby’s First Switchblade and My First Chainsaw. Gotta start ’em off right while they’re young!

    I don’t see big issues with 3-year olds walking up to the counter to buy a teddy lighter and a six-pack of Coors, but I can picture somebody leaving that in a desk drawer and having a curious child find it and go merrily bouncing about the house randomly lighting things on fire.

    This is really just asking for would be like making prescription medication that looks just like M&M’s.

    I’m totally against having to Darwin-proof society, but let’s not intentionally help the process along, either (especially when it’s a small child that doesn’t know any better).

  44. Sudonum says:

    @AcidReign: Boy did your post bring back memories. I had some model airplanes and a can of lighter fluid. My friend had the match. Boy was that a blast. We got in so much trouble that we really thought twice before we took our model ships and recreated the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the pool.

  45. DarkYang says:

    I have to say, that bear lighter is cute, I would love to buy one for myself. I have to agree with some of the comments though, while it is irresponsible to have lighters that look like children’s toys in an area that is reachable by children, it is unlikely that a child would be able to buy one.

  46. natch says:

    This is an example of why a little bit of government “meddling” in the lives of citizens can be a good thing.

  47. natch says:

    @trai_dep: trai_dep, you try keeping things out of a kid’s reach. You sound naive to me. Kids have the ability to climb pretty much anything, and besides that, they have friends, neighbors, uncles who can’t tell a plastic bear apart from a plastic bear lighter, and schoolmates. These things are just an accident waiting to happen, and there is no good reason they shouldn’t be made childproof as an extra measure of safety.

    Again, naive is the word for you if you don’t see the problem. Talk to your local fireman, they will give you a clue or two.

  48. djyox says:

    @LearningForever: Too late, they already have done so! Are you ready for this…. STRAWBERRY METH! Now comeon, who wouldn’t want some of that?

    “A new kind of methamphetamine that has a strawberry flavor and bright pink coloring was seized for the first time in Carson City during a search of an apartment on January 27, 2007.

    Flavored methamphetamine is the newest metamorphosis of the dangerous street drug. It appears that the flavor and color were added to the meth during the cooking process, instead of afterward, which would mean the drug does not have any less potency than its common counterpart.

    The colored and flavored methamphetamine, known as “Strawberry Quick” in the Sacramento area, and now in Carson City, is popular among new users who snort it because the flavoring can cut down on the taste. Teenagers who have been taught meth is bad may see this flavored version as less harmful.

    “Straberry Quick” is designed for the younger crowd. If dealers can get younger people using it, they can get long-time buyers…”

    Yeah… Doesn’t that just warm your heart? But back on topic, the lighters are just stupid. I’m wiling to bet that one of those will start a house fire soon by a 4 year old. Way to go who ever made them!

  49. Ghstfce says:

    The simplest solution? Taking the lighter from your child and saying “This is not a toy, this can burn you”. If the child realizes that they can get hurt using something, chances are they will think twice about using it. I was learned early about fire so I guess I was lucky. I knew what it was capable of, what it did and I NEVER lit anything on fire in the house. Now outside in the woods was different. But I either always had a jug of water with me or I was right next to the creek.

    But where the lighters are placed is the same with most cigarettes in convenience stores. Right at eye level with smaller kids. The kids may not readily notice, but after years of seeing these cigarettes, they are more likely to become smokers. It is the same with lighters. Only this time instead of going purely subliminal they added a toy-like construction to immediately add to the allure.

    Point is, you can’t stop a kid from being a kid. Overprotection leads to acting out, whether it be now or later in college when they have no one to shelter them and drink themselves to death.

  50. Mr. Gunn says:

    djyox: The pink color in some meth comes from the residual dye left on the sudafed tablets it’s made from. The part about it being flavored is pure urban myth.”

    /The More You Know….

  51. jdandrea says:

    It turns out Iowa senator Dennis Black is indeed trying to outlaw these “novelty” cigarette lighters!

    “According to Black, about five children die in Iowa each year in a fire they started themselves with matches or a cigarette ligther.”

    Ouch. :(


    I wonder if Senator Black is aware of 16 C.F.R. 1210.1 … ?

  52. silverlining says:

    US PIRG ( does a survey of unsafe toys every year right around Thanksgiving (in anticipation of Christmas). They usually do it in conjunction with the state PIRG, if there is one.

    Obviously, this is not meant as a toy, but boy, sure seems hazardous to kids.

    Might try contacting USPIRG and at least flagging the product. Here’s the direct link to their toy safety campaign:

  53. theDevilsDue says:

    Here’s an idea…pay attention to what your kids doing. Yes, kids get into things. No, it is not impossible to keep them from doing it. I have a child, I’ve done it. It is called being a responsible parent. Guess what? It’s not easy. If you can’t manage to keep an eye on your child, you are either lazy or incompetent.

    “Toh noes…my child burned down the house cause I was too busy surfin’ teh interwebs to watch them!!!”

  54. theDevilsDue says:

    OMFG!!!!!! The “parent” keeps going to the same store, knowing damn well the lighters are there, and “Every time … my 3 yr. old tries to grab them off the counter.” Does the “parent” really need help dealing with this problem? The amount of functioning morons living in the world never ceases to amaze me…

  55. madktdisease says:


    “have you ever turned off the tv, sat down with your kids, and just hit ’em?”

  56. Trai_Dep says:

    @natch: “you try keeping things out of a kid’s reach. You sound naive to me. Kids have the ability to climb pretty much anything…”

    With respect, someone’s inability to police their mewling brat – err, I mean precious lil’ flower of joy – isn’t enough justification to limit the choices that adults have.

    I’m really tired of whiny parents with bratty kids that want everyone else to fix their problem.

    Would I want dumb lighters? No. Do I rely on library computers to research contraception alternatives? No. Am I worried that the US gov’t is trying to shut down porn across the planet to “save the children”? No. I mean yes. YES. YES!

    Enough already. Make a world that’s safe for adults. Parents, raise your kids to keep their mitts off adults’ stuff until they’re older. Leave everything else – and us – alone. Jeezus.

  57. theideabank says:

    There is an online effort by the fire service to gather incident data so the CPSC will consider banning novelty lighters. The site is

  58. falisakb69 says:

    Just FYI, my best friend’s daughter was burned by one of these lighters, shaped like a Christmas tree, while in a local Fred’s. She was in the shopping cart and belted in. Her mom was taking stuff out of the cart and putting it on the check-out counter. The 3-year-old girl said, “Look Mama it’s a Christmas tree.” She picked it up, because it was easily in her reach and pushed the lever on the side. Flashing lights came on and Christmas music started playing, while at the same time, fire came out and burned her thumb, as well as her ear, and caught her hair on fire. She thought it was a toy. It looked like a Christmas tree ornament. She wasn’t trying to play with a lighter or with fire. She didn’t know any better. It looked exactly like a toy. There was nothing dangerous looking about it. Anyway…she is fine and has healed well. However, at 3-years-old, she doesn’t ever want to go into Fred’s again. She associates it with dangerous toys, fire, and pain.

  59. counterpunch says:

    (Former employee at Freud’s)

    They send those lighter out about twice a month. They are kept stocked for impulse buys from drunken hicks. Corporate is just too cheap to care.

    But bother TN’s AG about it.