I've Got My Back to School Crayons

They still smell as good as they always did.

A smell everyone recognizes. One of the 20 most familiar smells in the world.

Crayolas. And, I've got a brand new box of them. A whole Crayola Giant Chest of Crayons, 120 brilliant colors, with a sharpener!

I had a different box, with 96 colors. But I had to return it...it only had 95 colors. One crayon was missing! Gone, right out of the box, right off the shelf of the grocery store!

Actually, I liked that box better. The crayons stood right up in place, in a dozen neat little rows of eight, under the lift-up top. And the sharpener was built right into the box.

It even still had Indian Red. The color that was replaced last month. Same color, different name. Chestnut, now. Only the third to change names in history.

This new Crayola box looks like a cigar box.

Only it isn't. It can't compare to the cigar box I kept my crayons in when I was in grade school. That was the real thing.

Oh, I started each school year at Longfellow Elementary with the crayons in their own box.

But once they break, well, they just don't go back in the box in any semblance of way that you can find the right color and fish them back out. So they'd all have to go into the cigar box eventually.

I hated it when a crayon broke. Bad enough if I broke it. Even worse if Bobby Prescott or Dick Anderl or Jane Wallenkait borrowed it and broke it.

And when you had to finally admit that the crayon was dull and stubby and you had to peel the label back, that really hurt.

So each year Id add more and more crayons, stubby and broken and peeled, to my cigar box.

Now, I have my fake cigar box. And the sharpener is a large see-through plastic container that tells me to "open here to empty." No, not quite the same.

But, still Crayola. Now, like decades ago, other brands just won't do. Crayons just have to be real Crayolas, in the green and gold Crayola box.

The crayon colors are all there. Even Indian Red. Guess they didn't change it to Chestnut until after all the crayons were made for this school year.

I kind of wish they'd chosen sequoia or prairie dog or Dr. Pepper, some of the other names they considered.

But Ill be content with Chestnut. And laser lemon, dandelion, canary and plain old yellow. Pig pink, tumbleweed, almond, beaver, eggplant and shadow.

I don't think they had atomic tangerine or denim or asparagus when I was a kid. Or maybe they did and I don't remember. But they have them now.

I know Crayola didn't make all those other products they have now, or have a web page (www.crayola.com) when I was a kid. I mean, I was already seven before the box of 48 colors was introduced!

Today, there are Crayola pads, construction paper, modeling clay, chalk, colored pencils and markers. In a variety of washable, glow in the dark, and plain varieties. Even scented--chocolate, lemon, burnt marshmallow, blueberry.

Markers that leave imprints of alphabet letters, animals, happy faces and ladybugs. Rub on decals and glue, glitter and paint. Smocks and brushes and painting sponges. And crayons, of course.

Paraffin and pigment, and that all crayons are. Paraffin and pigment.

Crayola has made more than 100 billion crayons, at the rate of two billion a year, five million a day. By the time they're 10 every kid in North America has used 730 crayons. Kids in North America spend 6.3 billion hours a year coloring (that 10,000 human lifetimes). But kids all around the world use crayons--Crayolas are printed in eleven different languages.

I learned all that at Crayola.com on the world wide web.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to the Crayola website and download a picture to color. They've got this really neat elephant. I don't have a lot of different grays in my box of 120 Crayolas. So Ill use timberwolf, or maybe just plain gray.

These crayons smell good!

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