Colour me cerulean—or Laser Lemon

I love Crayola Crayons. There are other crayons but let’s face it: they just don’t measure up.
Crayola Crayons are extraordinary. When it comes to colouring, you have to have the best. It’s one area you just don’t want to cut corners in quality.
Did you know that there are 133 Crayola Crayon colours? That’s the total even with the retirement of 13 colours over the years.
I considered myself lucky when I got a 16-pack to start a new school year. It was such an upgrade from an eight-pack and its ordinary colours of red, yellow, orange, black, brown, blue green, and violet.
My school friend, Leanne, got the big pack—the really big pack of 64—when we were eight or nine. The box came with a sharpener built right into the back of the carton and I was in awe of her crayons.
I think I may have suffered from crayon-envy.
Thankfully, she was very generous and shared her crayons with me if I promised to use them respectfully. And I did. Always.
Crayola Crayons were invented by cousins, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith, with its box of eight colours in 1903 and they cost five cents. They were the first crayons ever made and by 1905, Crayola had 30 colours.
The 64-pack came out in 1958, and in 1972 they added eight fluorescent colours.
I can buy an eight-pack now for about $2. That’s not bad considering inflation over the 110 years.
Colouring was a favourite pastime when I was a kid. Do children colour anymore? I’m not sure. But I plan to colour with my grandchild when he is old enough.
He won’t have to stay inside the lines. I will want him to be free to express himself.
I remember sitting for hours colouring at the table with cousins and friends, and getting new colouring books and moving between pressing hard and pressing lightly, depending on the day.
My girls weren’t much for colouring—usually just on rainy days—and they were big on markers. Markers didn’t cut it with me. No back-to-school pencil case was complete if I didn’t have crayons, though I do remember graduating to coloured pencils (Laurentian usually, though Crayola’s coloured pencils came pre-sharpened, which seemed extraordinarily cool).
Though coloured pencils were more sophisticated, they weren’t as much fun as crayons and they didn’t smell the same.
I was a professional colouring-person when I worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources. I coloured maps of timber stands—a different colour for each species of tree—and I must confess we did not use Crayola Pencils.
It was a brief career.
Life changes. We’ve gone from horse-and-buggy to walking on the moon, but the eight-pack of Crayola Crayons is still in production 110 years after they first were put on store shelves. That’s pretty remarkable.
I suppose there are other products that have enjoyed such longevity, but not without being “new and improved.” Even toilet paper now has bionic qualities, claims of incredible feats, but the eight-pack of Crayola Crayons has changed very little.
I’d like to visit the Crayola Experience, a museum in Easton, Penn. that provides a history of Crayola’s crayon. The 13 retired colours are on display—gone but not forgotten.
A census taken in 2000 revealed that blue was the favourite colour, but you really can’t go wrong with an orange. The colour “flesh” was renamed in 1962 to “peach” to demonstrate awareness that flesh can be many different colours.
There is a Crayola plant in Lindsay, Ont., so Canada participates in producing the amazing crayon. I think I’d like to work there.
I might just have to go down to the store and buy myself a pack of crayons. I may even splurge and buy myself the really big 64-crayon box complete with sharpener.
I’ve earned it; I’ve been a very good girl today. And maybe I’ll buy a new colouring book.
Care to join me?
wendistewart@live.ca

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