January 27, 2003

Color My World

Oh my. Chaz over at Dustbury triggered a trip in the Wayback Machine with his post about Crayola Crayons. If you grew up any time since 1903, and chances are pretty good that you did, Crayolas were a part of your childhood. The 48 crayon box was a rather new item when I first encoutered Crayolas in the second or third grade. Before one of those early school years, all we were allowed to use were the thick-as-stumps kind of crayon that were flat on one side so they didn't roll away from our clumsy little fingers. (Come to think of it, those pre-crayon things were so stout you had to hold them with your entire fist, not your clumsy little fingers!)

I still remember being fascinated by the metallic colors of silver and gold. THey seemed magical somehow. Another metallic, Copper, didn't come along until 1958 by which time there were an astounding 64 colors. Lifting the boxy lid off a brand new Christmas carton of 48 or even 64 uniformly pointed rank and file Crayolas was like discovering the Count of Monte Cristo's treasure chest. And can you remember the smell of a new box of crayons?

A little know fact about Crayolas that I discovered during the second grade is that they have a melting temperature that is less than the temperature of the huge steam radiators that heated our school rooms. If you filtch one out of the box (a rarely used color is best) and gradually work your way under some pretense to the back of the room by the coat racks, you can slip down behind the last row of empty seats and press that Carnation Pink crayon into the radiator and it will melt like the Wicked Witch of the West, giving off the distinctive waxy smell of crayon. This was pee-in-your-pants naughty and exciting. At least this is what I was told. Really, mom.

Take a look at how the names changed with the advent of new colors in the psychedelic year of 1972: Some examples.... Atomic Tangerine. Lazer Lemon. Groovy.

And some original color names were changed for the purpose of politcal correctness: FLESH was changed to Peach; INDIAN RED became Chestnut; and PRUSSIAN BLUE became Midnight Blue. Dear Gracie, we wouldn't want to offend those Prussians, would we?

Hey Ron, I bet if you suggested to Julie that she make a candle scent called "CRAYON", she'd make a killin' off Eisenhower era covert crayon-melters like me... er, I mean like that other guy in my second grade class that did this kind of puerile prank.

Posted by fred1st at January 27, 2003 02:29 PM | TrackBack

As an adult, I realize the most underestimated crayon in the whole box was the white one. Used to I would just neglect white because it was negative space and you could just let the paper show through wherever you needed white. But I remember the day when I discovered how much better using the whit crayon was....

Ah the simpler days!

Posted by: Cody at January 27, 2003 03:09 PM

Arrrgggghhh!!!! I HATE the PC crowd. They are the most intolerant bunch of ignoramuses.

Indian Red was imported from India by the Venetian cloth merchants hundreds of years before the Americas were discovered.

My flesh is a distinctive Olive, not peach...and I am partly of Prussian heritage married to an Italian ...so I am really, really offended now. *G*

Great topic.


Posted by: feste at January 27, 2003 05:20 PM

Whoa, now that's an idea! It may take a little R&D legwork to get the scent just right. You up for a part time job as a candle sniffer? If not, I guess we will just have to hunt up that "other" crayon melter.

Anyhoo, thanks for the links, buddy. I owe you one!

Posted by: ron at January 27, 2003 08:21 PM

The best was getting the big huge box with THREE ROWS of crayons for Christmas. Then you could go to school and lord it over the other kids.

Do you remember Laurentian pencils...the pencil crayons for the older, more mature elementary/jr. high school crowd? I'm sure I could still draw a rough map of Britain and colour in all the counties.

Okay, good thing no one will test me on that.

Posted by: Jane at January 27, 2003 10:54 PM

Mmm, crayon scented candles. While we are at it can we come up with a mimeograph scent. There was nothing quite like the scent of a fresh pop quiz in math!

On a tagent, ever notice how crayons are one of those
items will generic replcaements just won't do?

Posted by: Chris at January 28, 2003 08:30 AM

I always enjoyed using the sharpener in the back of the box. Having to carefully dig out the edge of the paper and tearing it off just right, getting crayon under your fingernails, sharpening to an even "cone-age" - all good times. Now the kids have whiteboards with erasable markers. How much fun is that?

I did see where they now have a small machine that will melt two crayons and mix/swirl them right in front of your eyes, for even more crazy colors. It was "Awarded the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award!" That would have been difficult to do on the class radiator!

Posted by: MarcV at January 28, 2003 11:09 AM

Science question from my kids - does anyone know the melting temperature of crayons (apart from the very unscientific answer of - lower than the clasroom heater!).
Many thanks.

Posted by: Neil at August 19, 2003 06:26 PM

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