Crayola Conspiracy

Remember those big boxes of Crayola Crayons when you were a kid. There were boxes of 64, those were the good ones… And there were those boxes of 48, which for some reason, I thought was better than the 64 box (I think it was the way it had that rad tall skinnier flip top box)… then in my later childhood they came out with that 96 box or something, called the BIG BOX of crayons.

Remember getting a new box of crayons and the way they smelled? (crayolas only, those other cheapo brands sucked…they were too slimy waxy, they smelled bad, and sometimes had impurities in them which made streaks in your coloring. So from now on, when I say crayons, I mean the King of Crayons… Crayola brand!) I’m still infatuated with new crayons. You opened the box and there they all were, standing at attention, perfectly sharp and ready to be used. They begged “color with me, make me dull.” Then you would use them, and they’d get dull. The first ones to get dull were always black, red, blue and yellow. Once you had dull crayons, it was time for a new box. But until then, you had to deal with the dull crayons. Of course, Crayolas had that rad built in sharpener. My mom wouldn’t let me use it, because the crayon shavings would fall out of the box and get all over. She even went to the extent of putting masking tape all around the bottom of the box and over the sharpener hole so I couldn’t use it. But those few times where I used it, it always made me mad because you had to peel back the paper surrounding the crayon, and when you did, you’d get wax under your fingernails. After you finished coloring, your hands smelled like crayons….yum…..oh right, where was I? Along the lines of the peeling the crayons, whenever you reached into get a crayon out of the box (especially when you were going for one of the colors you sharpened a little too much) you’d get crayon all over your fingernails and cuticles.

And then there is the Brick Red conspiracy… You KNOW what I’m talking about. Every time you wanted to use the red crayon, you’d dig into the box of crayons and pick out red. You looked at it, and it was BRICK RED, not original red, but BRICK RED. So you’d put it back and go looking again, for original red…. You’d pick a crayon, and what do you know, it was BRICK RED, AGAIN! So you put it back. This had to go on for at least 5 minutes until you’d get so frustrated, you’d leave it out of the box (and then dig in and probably STILL get brick red hehe). And still, you wouldn’t be able to find the stupid original red, so you’d end up using Brick Red, thinking, oh, it’ll be ok, it’ll look fine and then it looked HORRIBLE, and you wish you would have taken the few extra minutes to find the original red!

Of course, there is a conspiracy like that for every color. Me personally, I had a problem with Cornflower…It was a darker blue crayon, it looked pretty, but then you went to use it, and it turned out crappy!! It was way too light, and it just ruined the picture. I also had a problem with Cerulean and Plum. Oh, god, the Purple conspiracy might be just as bad as the Brick Red one….You went looking for Purple (violet) and you’d get Blue-Violet. So you search some more and get Violet-Blue. Some more searching turned up Plum, but never, ever Violet Purple. Along these lines are the Blue-Green, Green-Blue, Turquoise problem, and BURNT SIENNA.

Burnt Sienna… don’t even get me started. You go looking for Brown, and you get Burnt Sienna…..Or Raw Sienna… or Burnt Orange….what IS SIENNA? And how do you know what color it is Burnt, or Raw….And let me tell you, Burnt Orange does NOT look like a burned orange looks like.

I was quite upset recently when I bought a new box of 64 Crayola Crayons with the built in sharpener. They no longer have the rad metallic colors like bronze (they still have silver, and gold which is rad). And they did away with some of my personal favorites (like Cadillac Blue) and replaced them with such colors as Robin’s Egg Blue, Wisteria, Purple Mountain Majesty, Timberwolf, Tickle Me Pink (barf) and Macaroni and Cheese.

As mentioned before, there are colors such as Blue-Green, Green-Blue, Blue-Violet, Violet-Blue, Red-Violet, Violet-Red etc…… What is the difference? Yes there is a difference when you use the crayons, but really….there is no difference!! It just made it frustrating when trying to find Blue, Purple, and Red respectively. Of course, finding the original colors became easy once they were sooo dull you needed to peel back the wrapper (even if you weren’t allowed to sharpen them in the built in sharpener).

And of course, every child goes through major coloring phases. First there is the, I don’t have control of my motor skills phase, where you scribble everywhere. Then you move into the next stage where you try SO hard to color in the lines. Then there is the, I’m going to trace everything in black first phase. You’d go to use a light color like yellow (which reminds me of the yellow, and lemon yellow conspiracy) and the black would smear all over the picture. Then there was the, I’m going to press so hard it goes through to the next picture phase. This was quickly grown out of because it caused the crayons to become dull in one use! Throughout these phases you just HAD to put your name on the picture, the date, and your age….so when you looked back through your books, you’d see when you did it, and remember that you were SO young then, that’s why it was so badly done.

When I was little, in first grade, I remember my teacher having whole boxes of just one color of crayon. You’d get one of each crayon, and I’d always do something, like secretly break my crayon so I could get a new pointy one from the box!

Now a days, I find myself wandering into the posh toy stores at the mall and staring at their massive wall of Crayola products. I stand there amazed at the number of different crayons they have. They have Silver Swirls (or did, I don’t think they were marketed very long, maybe I have the only box?), Gem Tones, Sparkly Crayons, Crayons that smell, and my favourite, the Multi Cultural crayons! The markers amaze me too. The Bold ones are the best, as well as the smelly ones and the stamper ones! But I digress….

Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 etc by Sara Etten