Thursday, April 5, 2007

A Cr@zy Crayola Chronology

(or The History of Crayons in General)

Everyone recognizes this... the coveted box of 64 Crayola Crayons With Built-In Sharpener. Remember the first time you saw this - you had to have it. It made the stubs and nubs of crayons you had at home seem like trash. And it was Crayola or nothing, buddy - you weren't settling for the Dollar Store version - they never seemed to color as good as Crayolas, anyway. If you didn't have one of these, chances are some kid in your class did - and everyone was always borrowing his crayons. This simple box of wax could turn a first grader into a celebrity overnight! And who could forget this Awesome Sesame Street clip from the 70's?


How did this come about, exactly? What is the actual obsession with crayons - these "Crayolas" in particular? Even today, as a grown and somewhat mature adult, I still find myself longing to dig out the crayons and coloring books and give it a go. I'll color with the best of 'em, too - as an adult, and having been forced through hours of Elementary and Jr. High Art Classes, I know tricks you can do with a crayon that would make the Mona Lisa look like refrigerator art. Well... not that awesome, but it works well on preschoolers ;)

So a crayon - a piece of wax. It could also be a piece of charcoal or chalk; really, a crayon is any stick-shaped material that is used for writing or drawing. Wax crayons are those most commonly used by school-age children, and what most people think of when they hear the word, "crayon". Binney & Smith Inc., the maker of "Crayola" crayons, is the world's largest producer of paraffin wax crayons. It was also the first company to make its coloring products non-toxic. Today, the Crayola name continues to outdo itself in advancements in children's creative toys and art supplies. Binney & Smith currently produces over 3 billion crayons annually.

It all started in 1885, when cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith partnered in taking over Binney's father's chemical business in upstate New York. The pair began producing and selling writing instruments, some of which included oxide pigments from barn paint and carbon black from car tires. In 1902, the Binney & Smith Co. is formed. At the time they were a popular distributor for carbon black producers, which lead to the production of their first "crayon" product - the "Staonal" in black. The first box of eight Crayola crayons was sold to the public for a nickel in 1903; it contained red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown and black sticks of wax. The name "Crayola" was coined by Binney's wife Alice in combining the French words "craie" (chalk) and "ola" (oily).

The familiar 64-crayon package with sharpener was not introduced until 1958. Crayolas have been sold in boxes ranging from two to 800 crayons, with 200 being the maximum number of different crayons in a box - which would include special effect crayons, like glitters and scenteds. Crayola also holds the rights to Silly Putty, Color Wonder, and Model Magic. They have hundreds of craft and coloring project products available on the market right now - everything from markers and crayons to sidewalk chalk and cutting devices. The largest box of Crayola crayons ever distributed was introduced in 1993 in celebration of Crayola's 90th birthday. It included 16 new colors, which were named through the first-ever "Crayola Name the New Colors" Contest. The 100 billionth Crayola crayon rolled off the assembly line in 1996.

This year, Crayola will be releasing a collection of 150 crayons in every color to date excluding the retired ones. Some are metallic/glitter and some have the Original Crayola logo. Binney & Smith Inc. also changed its name to Crayola Inc., effective Jan. 1, in an attempt to "modernize" its image.

Now, the moment you've all been waiting for: the list of colors. Let's see if I can do this one real nice for y'all:

Almond (1998)
Antique Brass (1998)
Apricot (1948)
Aquamarine (1958)
Asparagus (1993)
Atomic Tangerine (1990)
Banana Mania (1998)
Beaver (1998)
Bittersweet (1948)
Black (1903)
Blizzard Blue (1990) * Retired in 2003
Blue (1903)
Blue Bell (1998)
Blue-Gray (1958) * Retired in 1990
Blue-Green (1948)
Blue-Violet (1948)
Blush (1998)
Brick Red (1948)
Brown (1903)
Burnt Orange (1958)
Burnt Sienna (1948)
Cadet Blue
Canary (1998)
Caribbean Green (1998)
Carnation Pink (1948)
Cerise (1993)
Cerulean (1990)
Chartreuse (1972)
Copper (1958)
Cornflower (1948)
Cotton Candy (1998)
Dandelion (1990)
Denim (1993)
Desert Sand (1998)
Eggplant (1998)
Electric Lime (1990)
Fern (1998)
Flesh (1948) **
Forest Green (1958)
Fuchsia (1990)
Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown (1998)
Gold (1948)
Goldenrod (1958)
Granny Smith Apple (1993)
Gray (1948)
Green (1903)
Green-Blue (1948) * Retired in 1990
Green-Yellow (1948)
Hot Magenta (1972)
Inch Worm (2003)
Indigo (2003)
Indian Red (1958) ***
Jazzberry Jam (2003)
Jungle Green (1990)
Laser Lemon (1990)
Lavender (1958)
Lemon Yellow (1948) * Retired in 1990
Macaroni and Cheese (1993)
Magenta (1948)
Magic Mint (1990) * Retired in 2003
Mahogany (1948)
Maize (1948) * Retired in 1990
Manatee (1998)
Mango Tango (2003)
Maroon (1948)
Mauvelous (1993)
Melon (1948)
Mountain Meadow (1998)
Mulberry (1958) * Retired in 2003
Navy Blue (1958)
Neon Carrot (1990)
Olive Green (1948)
Orange (1903)
Orange-Red (1948) * Retired in 1990
Orange-Yellow (1948) * Retired in 1990
Orchid (1948)
Outer Space Outer Space (1998)
Outrageous Orange (1990)
Pacific Blue (1993)
Periwinkle (1948)
Piggy Pink (1998)
Pine Green (1948)
Pink Flamingo (1998)
Plum (1958)
Prussian Blue (1948) *
Purple Heart (1998)
Purple Mtn's Majesty (1993)
Purple Pizzazz (1990)
Radical Red (1990)
Raw Sienna (1958)
Raw Umber (1958) * Retired in 1990
Razzle Dazzle Rose (1990)
Razzmatazz (1993)
Red (1903)
Red-Orange (1948)
Red-Violet (1948)
Robin's Egg Blue (1993)
Royal Purple (1990)
Salmon (1948)
Scarlet (1990)
Screamin' Green (1990)
Sea Green (1948)
Sepia (1958)
Shadow (1998)
Shamrock (1993)
Shocking Pink (1990)
Silver (1948)
Sky Blue (1958)
Spring Green (1948)
Sunglow (1990)
Sunset Orange (1998)
Tan (1948)
Teal Blue (1990) * Retired in 2003
Thistle (1948) * Retired in 2003
Tickle Me Pink (1993)
Timber Wolf (1993)
Torch Red (1998) * Retired in 2003
Tropical Rain Forest (1993)
Tumbleweed (1993)
Turquoise Blue (1948)
Ultra Blue (1972) * Retired in 1990
Ultra Green (1972) * Retired in 1990
Ultra Orange (1972) * Retired in 1990
Ultra Pink (1972) * Retired in 1990
Ultra Red (1972) * Retired in 1990
Ultra Yellow (1972) * Retired in 1990
Unmellow Yellow (1990)
Violet (Purple) (1903)
Violet-Blue (1948) * Retired in 1990
Vivid Tangerine (1990)
Vivid Violet (1998)
White (1948)
Wild Strawberry (1990)
Wild Watermelon (1990)
Wisteria (1993)
Yellow (1903)
Yellow-Green (1948)

* Name changed to "midnight blue" in 1958 in response to teachers' requests.
** Name voluntarily changed to "peach" in 1962 in response to U.S. Civil Rights movement.
*** Name changed to "chestnut" in 1999 in response to educators' requests.

And, for those of you who still like to color, you can play with all of Crayola's toys here, on Crayola.com

Information courtesy of:
Wikipedia - "Crayola" and "crayon"
Crayola Inc. Website

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