Crayola Crayons

Inducted 1998

In 1900, Binney & Smith, makers of familiar red barn paint, ventured into the school supply business. Noting teachers’ complaints of poor quality chalk, the firm imagined a new market. Adapting a black grease pencil used to mark containers, Barney & Smith created handy multicolored non-toxic wax sticks in black, brown, orange, violet, blue, green, red, and yellow. Alice Binney combined the French word for chalk craie, with olea, “oily” to make “Crayola,” and Crayola Crayons entered the market in 1903. At a nickel a box, kids snapped them up. Over the years, appealing new colors tracked fashion trends and cultural change. Burnt Sienna and Salmon appeared after World War I. Aquamarine materialized in the 1960s. Atomic Tangerine and Laser Lemon launched in the 1970s and 80s. Macaroni and Cheese, Outer Space, Purple Heart, Tickle Me Pink, and Manatee surfaced in the 90s. Names changed too: Prussian Blue became Midnight Blue as people forgot the country. The color Flesh transformed into Peach in 1962 as the Civil Rights Movement helped open American eyes to diversity. Likewise, Indian Red became Chestnut in 1999. By 1996, the company had sold 100 billion crayons. Creative kids use up billions more throughout the world each year.