For over 100 years, children and artists have had access to an inexpensive option for adding color to the world: crayons.

Dictionaries define crayons as sticks of colored chalk or wax for drawing, writing, or coloring. Staples on the school supplies lists, crayons can come in various sizes, quantities, materials, and of course, colors.

More than 12 million crayons are produced in the U.S. each day. Crayola, one of the most popular brands, makes packs ranging from eight colors to "the super 152 Ultimate Crayon Collection," according to its website. Many area adults confessed to still using them, and they discussed their favorite colors and childhood memories.

"My favorite color is brick red from the 64-pack box of Crayola Crayons," said Christi Biby McDonald on Facebook. "It was a very special treat to get the box with a sharpener, so I didn't use them for school. I was the same with my own kids just out of habit, I think - a nice big box for home, and just a 24-pack for school."

The 64-pack was usually envied by others if a child brought one to school, because it came with a sharpener. For some, the larger packs were saved for home use or only received as gifts.

"I never got the 64 pack for school - sometimes at Christmas, though," said Teddye Snell, whose favorite crayon color is periwinkle. Several area residents agreed with her preference.

A few of Sarah Johnson's favorite colors from the 64 pack are silver, gold, copper, forest green, turquoise blue, and plum.

"Weirdly enough, l loved Indian Red as a child. It's new name is chestnut, I believe," said Johnson.

Color names tended to be altered with the times, as some became more politically correct or went with trends such as neon, earth tones, or metallic.

The ingredients to make crayons have changed, too.

According to the Crayola website, the first crayons were concocted from a mixture of oil and charcoal. Powdered pigments later replaced the charcoal, and paraffin wax replaced the oil in order to make them easier to handle, as well as sturdier.

The company Binney & Smith developed Crayola crayons in 1902, and sold the first box in 1903 for 5 cents. It still makes its coloring sticks from paraffin, which is made from petroleum. Some companies have moved away from using paraffin and have gotten crafty with more natural materials. Popular alternatives are soy, beeswax, and plant-based waxes.

With a rise in recycling and reusing practices, some companies and organizations have initiated programs for crayon collections.

"We do not really do any recycling of them, but they are used for art projects," said Leon Ashlock, Tahlequah Public Schools superintendent.

According to The Crayon Initiative, a 25-pound box of used crayons can yield enough raw materials to create 125 eight-packs of crayons. This organization collects donated used crayons from individuals, schools and restaurants, and melts them down to make new crayons. These are then donated to art program at children's hospitals in the U.S.

In fact, August has been deemed National Crayon Collection Month with the hopes of getting crayons into the hands of those who may not be able to afford or have access to them, as well as keeping them out of landfills.

Those interested in starting a used crayon drive have a number of places to send them to, including The National Crayon Recycle Program, The Crayon Initiative, and Crayon Collection.

Crayons can also be melted and reshaped at home, but Crayola warns that "overheating wax crayons may release irritating fumes."

Deborah Akerman Bailey had her own story to share.

"As the oldest of five children, I got the standard 24 pack of Crayola crayons. I'll confess to being a bit envious of classmates that had the 64-box with sharpener, but I'd pretty much outgrown that by college," Bailey said. "With my favorite color being purple, it was probably for the best I didn't have the 64-count box with the multitudes of red-purple, blue-purple, violet and recently the 'Purple Mountain Majesty.' I am thankful for the crayons I had and recently used those limited palette skills in drawing and shading to paint a picture using only six colors of oil paint."

Recommended for you