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Crayola, LLC
Formerly called
Binney & Smith Company
Industry Handicraft
Founded March 31, 1885; 130 years ago (1885-03-31)
Headquarters Forks Township, Pennsylvania, United States
Number of locations
Area served
Key people
  • Mike Perry (President and CEO)
  • Smith Holland (Vice President & COO)
  • Kip Olmstead (Vice President, Marketing)
  • Peter S. Ruggiero (Vice President, Operations)
  • Chalk
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
Number of employees
1,300 (2012)[1]
Parent Hallmark Cards

Crayola is a brand of artists' supplies manufactured by Crayola, LLC (formerly Binney & Smith Company) and best known for its crayons. The company is based in Forks Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Since 1984, Crayola has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Hallmark Cards.[2] Originally an industrial pigment supply company, Crayola soon shifted its focus to art products for home and school use, beginning with chalk, then crayons, followed later by colored pencils, markers, paints, modeling clay, and other related goods. All Crayola-branded products are marketed as nontoxic and safe for use by children. Most Crayola crayons are made in the United States.[3]

The company also produces Silly Putty and a line of professional art products under the Portfolio Series brand.

Crayola, LLC claims the Crayola brand has 99% name recognition in U.S. consumer households, and says its products are sold in over 80 countries.[4]


Black-and-white photographs of Crayola's founders Edwin Binney and his cousin, C. Harold Smith, c. 1900
Crayola's founders Edwin Binney (left) and C. Harold Smith (right)

The company was founded by cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith in New York City on March 31, 1885 as Binney & Smith. Initial products were colorants for industrial use, including red iron oxide pigments used in barn paint and carbon black chemicals used for making tires black and extending their useful lifespan.[5] Binney & Smith's new process of creating inexpensive black colorants was entered into the chemistry industries competition at the 1900 Paris Exposition under the title "carbon gas blacks, lamp or oil blacks, 'Peerless' black" and earned the company a gold medal award in chemical and pharmaceutical arts.[6][7] Also in 1900, the company added production of slate school pencils. Binney's experimentation with industrial materials, including slate waste, cement, and talc, led to the invention of the first dustless white chalk, for which the company won a gold medal at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.[7]

This Crayola advertisement from March 1905 is one of its earliest, and shows it offered a variety of boxes and colors early on.

Initially formed as a partnership, Binney & Smith incorporated in 1902.

In 1902, Binney & Smith developed and introduced the Staonal marking crayon. Then Edwin Binney, working with his wife, Alice Stead Binney, developed his own famous product line of wax crayons beginning on 10 June 1903,[8] which it sold under the brand name "Crayola." The Crayola name was coined by Alice Binney, wife of company founder Edwin and a former schoolteacher. It comes from "craie", French for "chalk," and "ola" for "oleaginous", or "oily."[7][9] The suffix "-ola" was also popular in commercial use at the time, lending itself to products such as granola (1886),[10] pianola (1901),[11] Victrola (1905),[12] Shinola (1907) [13] and Mazola (1911).[14] Crayola introduced its crayons not with one box, but with a full product line. By 1905, the line had expanded to offering 18 different-sized crayon boxes[15] with five different-sized crayons, only two of which survive today – the "standard size" (a standard sized Crayola crayon is 358" × 5/16") and the "large size" (large sized crayola crayons are 4" × 7/16"). The product line offered crayon boxes contained containing 6, 7, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 24, 28, or 30 different color crayons. Some of these boxes were targeted for artists and contained crayons with no wrappers, while others had a color number printed on the wrapper that corresponded to a number on a list of color names printed inside the box lid, but some boxes contained crayons with their color names printed on their wrappers.

The Rubens Crayola line, started in 1903 (not in the 1920s, as claimed by some sources),[16] was directly targeted at artists and designed to compete with the Raphael brand of crayons from Europe. The crayon boxes sold from five cents for a No.6 Rubens box containing six different-colored crayons to $1.50 for the No. 500 Rubens Special Artists and Designers Crayon box containing 24 different-colored, larger (414" × 1/2") crayons.[17]

Inside the Rubens Crayola No. 500 crayon box

In April 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair, Binney & Smith won the Gold Medal for their An-Du-Septic dustless chalk.[18] Subsequently, Crayola used the opportunity to develop a new packaging strategy by emphasizing their gold medal on the front of many of their products and crayon boxes. This strategy turned out to be so successful and recognizable to their brand that they phased out nearly all of their other Crayola line box designs to adapt to the gold medal format, which appeared on their packaging for the next 50-plus years.

The first two Gold Medal line 8-count boxes

In 1905, the prototype offering of their new No. 8 crayon box (with eight crayons) featured a copy from the side of the medal with an eagle on it. This was changed to the other side of the medal with the 1904 date on it in Roman numerals.

An original Munsell crayons box and later Binney & Smith boxes

Binney & Smith purchased the Munsell Color Company crayon product line in 1926, and inherited 22 new colors, 11 in the maximum and 11 in the middle hue ranges.[19][20] They retained the Munsell name on products such as “Munsell-Crayola” and “Munsell-Perma” until 1934, and then incorporated their colors into their own Crayola Gold Medal line of boxes.[21]

The Crayola No.52 box 1939–1944

In 1939, Crayola, by combining its existing crayon colors with the Munsell colors, introduced its largest color assortment product to date; a "No. 52 Drawing Crayon 52 Color Assortment", which was retired by the 1944 price list.

In 1949, Crayola introduced the "Crayola No. 48" containing 48 color crayons in a non-peggable floor box.

The first version of the Crayola No.64 box

Further expansion took place in 1958 with the introduction of the 64-color pack that included the company's first crayon sharpener built into the box.[22] The 64-color box was called "a watershed" moment in the history of the Crayola crayon by Smithsonian National Museum of American History curator David Shayt.[23] [24]

The corporation became a publicly traded company under the symbol BYS on the American Stock Exchange in 1963, and later moved to the New York Stock Exchange under the same symbol in 1978.[5]

In 1977, Binney & Smith acquired the rights to Silly Putty, a stretchy bouncy toy.[25] Crayola markers were introduced in 1978 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Crayola crayons. In 1984, the company was acquired by Hallmark Cards, a privately held corporation. Colored pencils and a line of washable markers were added in 1987.[5]

Crayola Crayons were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 1998. In the same year, the Crayola Factory opened.

On January 1, 2007, Binney & Smith became Crayola LLC, to improve Crayola branding as part of Hallmark.[1][4]

In 2011, My First Crayola was launched. Products include triangular crayons and flat-tipped markers.

In 2015, Crayola announced "Color Escapes" for adults to help them relieve stress. The kit will include four collections, such as geometric, garden, natural, kaleidoscope.[26]


Crayola yellow and green 64-color box with 16 of the crayons from the box arrayed in front of it
(2009) 64-crayon pack sporting built-in sharpener
Crayola plastic telescoping 150-crayon tower extended for use
Crayola telescoping 150 crayon tower

Crayola crayon packs vary in package counts of just a few crayons sold to establishments such as hotels and restaurants, to hand out to their young guests[27] to 832-crayon "Classpack" bulk boxes marketed to schools.[28] The colors contained in a package have ranged from two to 200 (although a 200-color package includes "special effect" crayons such as glitters, neons, etc.). The most common retail packages are multiples of eight, with 8, 16, 24, 48, 64, 96, and 120 packs being marketed today.[29][30][31] A 150-crayon pack featuring a plastic telescope-like case was introduced in 2006, and includes 118 regular color crayons, 16 glitter crayons, and 16 "Metallic FX" crayons, as well as a built-in sharpener at the apex of the tower.[32]


As the size of Crayola crayon packs increased from the original 1903 crayon packs, the variety of colors available has also increased — reaching 120 colors by 1998. Since 1998, new colors have been added, but always replacing existing colors. In all, 50 colors have been retired, bringing the total number of regular colors produced to 170.

Thirteen retired Crayola crayons no longer produced
The 13 of 50 officially retired Crayola crayon colors

The colors in the box below come in the packs of 8, 16, and 24:

8 pack (as of 1903) +8 = 16 pack (as of 1930) +8 = 24 pack (as of 1999)
Carnation Pink
Red Orange
Violet Red
Yellow Orange
Yellow Green
Green Yellow
Crayola Blue color sample.jpg
Violet (Purple)
Blue Green
Blue Violet
Red Violet
White Crayola-Apricot.jpg

Cultural impact[edit]

A Yale University study on scent recognition[citation needed] found the scent of Crayola crayons is one of the most recognizable scents for adults,[7] ranking at number 18, trailing coffee and peanut butter that were number one and two respectively, but beating out cheese and bleach, which placed at 19 and 20.[33]

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History maintains a collection of Crayola crayons founded by an original 64-color box donated by Binney & Smith in 1998. The collection now includes more than 300 boxes of crayons.[23]

The Crayola crayon was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame as a founding member at its inception.

Pip-Squeaks Crayola has produced a line of mini markers called Pip-Squeaks since 2006. They have the regular kind, available in a 16 pack and a 50 count telescoping tower, and the skinny ones, called Pip-Squeaks Skinnies come in a 16 pack and a 64 box (it was released in 2008 for the Kid's Choice Colors).

Crayola has been featured in segments from the popular children's shows Sesame Street[34] and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, with the official 100 billionth crayon molded by Fred Rogers himself in February 1996 at the plant in Easton.[35]

Commemorative postage stamp[edit]

United States 32 cent postage stamp featuring a vintage eight-color crayon box
1998 USPS stamp commemorating Crayola crayons.

In 1998, the United States Postal Service issued a 32-cent postage stamp to commemorate the cultural impact the product has had on almost all Americans.[36]

The stamp is part of the 1900s decade sheet of the Celebrate the Century souvenir sheet series, and was designed by Carl Herrman, illustrated by Richard Waldrep and printed by Ashton-Potter USA using the offset/intaglio process.[37]

Crayola color census 2000[edit]

In 2000, Crayola held the "Crayola Color Census 2000" promotion in which Americans were asked to vote for their favorite Crayola crayon color. Celebrity entrants George W. Bush chose "Blue Bell," Tiger Woods chose "Wild Strawberry," and Courteney Cox chose "Red."[38] Overall, "Blue" came in first, with "Cerulean" second and "Purple Heart" third.[39]

The Crayola Experience[edit]

Originally opening as the Crayola Factory, the Crayola Experience is located at 30 Centre Square, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA, at Two Rivers Landing,[40] separate from the main manufacturing plant in Forks Township, Pennsylvania. The Crayola Experience is open to the public. The Crayola Experience is a museum and visitor center geared toward familiarizing guests with Crayola's history and products.[41]

A young girl draws with Crayola crayons at the Crayola Experience
A girl draws with Crayola-brand crayons in the Crayola Experience

A "discovery center" was built that showcases the manufacturing process of crayons. There is also a "Crayola Hall of Fame" in which the retired crayon colors are displayed.[42]

The world's largest crayon was made from 123,000 used or broken blue crayons donated by people from around the world.

The Crayola Experience was featured in a Food Network episode of Dinner: Impossible. A dinner was held for 150 employees of the Crayola Experience to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 64 -box of crayons. Chef Michael Symon's mission was to create an eight-course tasting menu for this event, where all eight items of the menu had to match eight randomly chosen Crayola crayon colors.[43]

In October 2003, the Experience unveiled "The World's Largest Crayon," a 15-foot-long crayon weighing 1,500 lb as part of its celebration of 100 years of Crayola crayons. The giant crayon, 16 inches in diameter, is blue, and was made of leftover crayon bits sent in by children across the United States.[44]

Fine art[edit]

Although marketed to children and amateur artists, several professional artists have specialized in using Crayola crayons as their primary medium. Don Marco, who works with Crayola crayons and construction paper, is one of the better known crayon artists — having sold over one million prints of his original artworks.[45]

Other products[edit]

A variety of Crayola products available for sale at a New York art supply store
A selection of Crayola products for sale at a New York art supply store

Crayola LLC produces a broad range of products other than their famous crayons under the Crayola brand name. These include colored pencils, markers, inks and paints, modeling clays, coloring books, and artists' tools. As with all Crayola products, these are all marketed as nontoxic and safe for use by children.[46]

Other brands[edit]

Silly Putty[edit]

Main article: Silly Putty

Silly Putty is a silicone polymer children's toy used for various purposes. Silly Putty was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2001.

Portfolio Series[edit]

The Portfolio Series is a line of water-soluble oil pastels, watercolors, drawing pencils, colored pencils, and acrylic paints marketed to artists and educators.[47]


Binney & Smith acquired the Liquitex corporation, a producer of fine art supply products, in 1964, but sold it to the ColArt company in 2000.[48]


Numerous products, ranging from bath and personal care items to bedding and electronics, are produced by other companies using the Crayola brand name under license.[49] Crave Entertainment developed a Crayola-themed video game, titled Crayola Treasure Adventures, which was published by Nintendo in 2007.[50]

Christmas lights[edit]

In the 1996–1997 season, Crayola produced Christmas lights using its name with colors such as pink, orange, blue, gold, and red, and more.


Crayola has manufacturing plants in Forks Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Lindsay, Ontario, Canada and Mexico City, Mexico. The colored pencils are made by Faber-Castell Brazilian plants.


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  17. ^ The Youth’s Companion. Boston, MA: Perry Mason & Co. October 18, 1906. p. 524. 
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External links[edit]