Crayola for me is the smell of childhood. My neat-freak mother did not like the mess that Play Doh made and so would steer me towards the Crayola box every time I wanted to do anything artsy. Pretty much all the time because my parents were definitely of the ilk that children should be seen and not heard. So if I wasn’t reading, I was colouring pictures.
I remember my favourite colours – periwinkle (a shade of light blue) and burnt sienna (a shade of rusty orange). So imagine my delight when I found out that you can visit a Crayola centre in Easton Pennsylvania.
Crayola was founded in 1885 by two cousins, Binney & Smith, who started off experimenting in industrial colorants. It was Binney’s wife Alice who started making wax crayons in 1903. Over the years, their crayons have become a worldwide bestseller. Crayola is best known for its wax crayons but it also has expanded into a load of other product ranges.
I’d been to the Crayola Experience back when it was called the Crayola factory. The twins were 3 years old and they loved playing with all the arts & crafts materials. The revamped and renamed Crayola Experience was opened in 2013. It is much more of a slick operation with lots of interactive facilities and better use of space. I took my son who is 8 this past summer and he really enjoyed himself.
5 Fun Facts About Crayola
- Crayons have been occasionally renamed as racial sensitivities increased and time progressed. For example the colour Indian red is renamed chestnut and the colour flesh was renamed peach.
- Did you know that the colour midnight blue was originally called Prussian blue? Dark blue was first created in a laboratory in Berlin in the early 18th century and named Prussian Blue. By the 1950’s, however, most children in the USA had never heard of Prussia and the name of the colour was changed.
- A 2006 Yale University study shows that the smell of Crayola crayons was one of the most recognisable smells in the world. So it’s not just me!
- Crayola was named by Alice Binney. The first half of the name is from the French word craie which means chalk. The second half of the nam “ola” comes from the word oleaginous which means containing oil.
- Crayon colours have occasionally been discontinued as trends have changed. For example, Crayola no longer makes the colour maize. From childhood, I remember maize being a dark yellow not as bright as the colour goldenrod.
- In 1996 the one hundred-billionth Crayola crayon was produced in the Easton factory and moulded by Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood fame. That’s a lot of crayons!
The Crayola Experience is located in Easton Pennsylvania. The hours vary according to the season so check the website before you go. Parking is easy on the neighbouring streets. We went in the summer and it was busy! They are expecting to open a Crayola Experience in Orlando Florida in the summer of 2015.