National Crayon Day on March 31 sparks fond memories of childhood creations in full color as we celebrate one of America’s most beloved toys, the crayon! Crayons delight our senses not just with their brilliant colors but also with their distinct smell, the feel of them in our hands, and for some kids, the waxy taste. With over 12 million crayons made daily, one is never far from reach. So, grab your box of 64 crayons, sharpener included, and get ready for some artistic expression and nostalgia.
History of National Crayon Day
Crayons have a colorful history. While hued wax molds have existed for centuries, the modern-day crayon got its start in the 1900s.
Crayola crayons were introduced in 1903 by Binney & Smith as a safer and cheaper alternative to the art utensils in use at that time. Binney & Smith premiered their famous eight-pack of crayons with the color line-up: Black, Brown, Orange, Violet, Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow. This color mix, along with their names, remained unchanged for 45 years.
Since then, many colors have been added, color names and packaging have changed, and color styles such as neon, metallics, and glitter have emerged. A few colors have even been retired from the color wheel, typically on March 31.
The Crayola crayon has a special place in the hearts of Americans and Americana. It was one of the original inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame in November 1999. It is estimated the average American will have used 730 crayons by their 10th birthday. Even Mr. Fred Rogers has had his hand in the history of crayons by molding the official 100 billionth crayon in February 1996 at the Crayola plant in Easton.
Crayons not only add color to our lives, but they’ve also been held as an analogy for the colorfulness of the human race and our ability to live together in a diverse world. Robert Fulghum, the American author, once said, “We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box.”
National Crayon Day timeline
World’s largest crayon
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Crayola unveiled the world’s largest crayon – over 15 feet long, 1300 pounds, color blue.
- 19th Century
Precursor to modern-day crayons
With Paris considered the world’s artistic hub, crayons of pure wax are produced for the first time here.
- Mid-17th Century
The word “crayon” is first used in French and Latin meaning a colorful stick of chalk or wax.
- 50 AD
A new art form
Wax paintings first appeared in Ancient Rome.
National Crayon Day FAQs
What is the newest crayon product?
Crayola will launch a box of flesh-toned crayons in 2020. Their 32-count box includes 24 new skin-toned shades plus 8 classic Crayola colors that can be used for eye and hair color.
How many Crayola crayon colors are there?
There are over 120 different Crayola crayon colors including many retired and limited edition colors which are no longer available.
Are crayons recyclable?
Yes, The Crayon Initiative allows schools and restaurants to donate used crayons which are sorted, melted, and then created into new crayons and distributed to places such as children’s hospitals. This prevents the almost 60 million crayons discarded each year from reaching our landfills.
National Crayon Day Activities
Order a customized box of crayons
Crayola offers customizable boxes of crayons – you select the box graphics, name personalization, and all the colors to include in your special box. It’s a great gift idea for the kid or adult who has everything!
Visit the Crayola Experience
If you are up for a road trip, you can visit one of the five Crayola Experience locations – Orlando, Florida; Chandler, Arizona; Plano, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota or Easton, Pennsylvania – where you can create a masterpiece, make crayon molds, and even name and wrap your own crayon.
Make a crayon candle
Since crayons are meltable, make a colorful candle using a few old crayons, small paper cups, candle wicks, wax flakes, popsicle sticks, and candle molds. Add a small piece of crayon to wax flakes in a paper cup, microwave for 45 seconds. Stir the melted wax with a popsicle stick and then pour it into a candle mold placing the wick in the center. Allow to set for 30 minutes then repeat if you’d like to add additional layers.
Five Fun Facts About Crayola Crayons
The first box of eight Crayola crayons sold for 5 cents; today, you can get a classic 8-count box for as little as 99 cents – still a great bargain!
In a US smell test, crayons were found to be the 18th most recognizable smell out of 80 items; a derivative of beef fat is what gives the crayon its scent and waxy feel.
Seven shades of blue
In 2001, Americans voted the classic color blue as their favorite crayon color; rounding out the top 10 were six additional shades of blue.
The used stubs of crayons are called “leftolas”.
Since Crayola began producing its crayons in 1903, over 230 billion crayons have been sold with annual production in 2019 reaching over 3 billion.
Why We Love National Crayon Day
It’s fun for everyone
Coloring isn’t just for kids. The adult coloring craze took off in 2015 and is holding steady. Coloring doesn’t require much artistic ability and a few crayons and coloring pages are inexpensive and easy to transport. That coupled with the calming effects coloring seems to have on adults, it is likely a trend here to stay that young and old alike can enjoy.
It gets our creative juices flowing
Crayons bring out the crafty side in us so having a dedicated day to this artistic tool can get the creative juices flowing. Check out the many artsy websites a quick search away for ideas on simple crafts for you and your family and friends.
Life is better in color
Trudi Pinnick Wolfe, a counselor at an elementary school in Beech Grove, Indiana, once asked a group of students to pick one crayon color with which to draw a complete picture. Next, she invited them to use as many colors as they wished to draw another picture. When she asked which did they like better, the students, of course, agreed they preferred the picture with more color – the diversity of color was not as boring.
National Crayon Day dates