Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

If They . . .

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. . .arrested the devil,

would they charge him

with possession?

America’s Colorful Hall of Fame

We smelled it as soon as we swooshed through the cool glass doors from the oppressive Pennsylvania humidity into the revitalizing air-conditioned building.

“Crayons,” my wife said.

We had entered the Crayola Hall of Fame nestled in a high rolling Easton meadow close by the New Jersey border just 90 minutes from downtown Manhattan.

It was a timely visit because a mittful of tones were to be retired to be replaced by a similar number in the colorful contingent. I lobbied for the enshrinement of a violet orange I developed when an old crayon melted in my water color set long ago but I was too late.

The initial move to modernity was made a few decades ago after interviews with Crayola’s major consumers – kids – revealed a need for brightness among the corporate colors. We asked our guide if there was any move to add a scent to the product. “Are you kidding?” was the response. Studies show that crayons are among the 20 most-recognized scents in America. Coffee and peanut butter top the list.

It was almost disappointing to see how such colorful pieces of my life could be the product of such a cramped and constantly-clattering plant. It was like discovering that Santa’s workshop is in a carport.

Workers did display an elfin dedication to quality in the care and concern they show in making sure every Crayola has a straight label and perfectly pointed tip. Color was splattered all over as paraffin was recycled in large globs, colorful paper sleeves awaited the cylindrical sticks of color, and the familiar orange-and-green boxes of various sizes housed hundreds of thousands of Crayolas ready for shipment around the globe.

Crayolas have rolled out of this site since the first eight-color pack was produced in 1903 and sold for a nickel. The trade name Crayola derives from the French word craie for chalk and the Latin oleum for oil. Crayolas are made of paraffin and pigment. And crayon is the generic term for a colored writing stick.

The one person I hunted for but never found: the inspector who checks for crayons that stay inside the lines.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

January 8, 2023 at 2:00 am

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