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According to Sally Putnam Chapman, great-granddaughter of Crayola co-founder Edwin Binney, the iconic crayons were borne out of necessity. Edwin's wife—Sally's great-grandmother, Alice—was a schoolteacher who needed a colored pencil for kids that was long lasting, brightly colored, and inexpensive. After Edwin created his signature paraffin wax crayon, all they needed was a name. Alice came up with "crayola"—a mix of the French word craie, which means "chalk," and ola, a Latin root for "oil."

The first boxes of Crayolas were hand-made and sold for five cents in 1903. They're now made in automated factories. First, the paraffin wax is melted. Then it's mixed with the pigments that give the crayons their vibrant colors. A secret ingredient is added, "That gives it that wonderful smell and heartiness," Sally says. Finally, the melted wax is poured into crayon molds and cooled. This process results in 650 crayons made every minute—that's 13.5 million crayons a day.

In more than a century, Crayola has sold more than 200 billion crayons, but none of those have ever been like this...Sally stopped by with a special delivery, a box of crayons in Oprah's favorite color—"the color purple!"
FROM: The Big Idea That Made Millions
Published on May 04, 2006


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