Learn How Crayons Are Made, Courtesy of 1980s Videos by Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers

Some things are dif­fi­cult to improve upon. Take crayons. The new gen­er­a­tion may be clam­or­ing for shades like “man­go tan­go” and “jazzber­ry jam” but the actu­al tech­nol­o­gy appears unchanged since Sesame Street detailed the process in the ear­ly 80s, in the love­ly, non ver­bal doc­u­men­tary above. Not a prod­uct place­ment in sight, I might add, though few can mis­take that famil­iar green and gold box.

Those who pre­fer a bit more expla­na­tion might pre­fer Fred Rogers’ hyp­not­ic step-by-step guide, play­ing in per­pe­tu­ity on Pic­ture Pic­ture.

By the time the indus­try’s giant goril­la got around to weigh­ing in, the wood­en col­lec­tion box­es and ana­log coun­ters had been replaced, but oth­er­wise, it’s still busi­ness as usu­al on the ol’ cray­on-man­u­fac­tur­ing floor. Don’t expect to find the recipe for the “secret pro­pri­etary blend of pig­ments and oth­er ingre­di­ents” any time soon. Just know they’re capa­ble of crank­ing out 8500 crayons per minute. For those play­ing along at home, that’s enough to encir­cle the globe 6 times per cal­en­dar year, with a full third owing their exis­tence to solar ener­gy.

There’s a Home­land Secu­ri­ty-ish vibe to some of the dia­logue, but the Life of an Amer­i­can Cray­on, above, does our native assem­bly lines proud. Proud­er than the Amer­i­can slaugh­ter­house, any­way, or some oth­er fac­to­ry floors, I could name. The work­ers seem con­tent enough to stay in their posi­tions for decades, hap­pi­ly declar­ing alle­giance to this or that hue.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Philip Glass Com­pos­es for Sesame Street (1979)

Mr. Rogers Intro­duces Kids to Exper­i­men­tal Elec­tron­ic Music by Bruce Haack & Esther Nel­son (1968)

How Ani­mat­ed Car­toons Are Made: Watch a Short, Charm­ing Primer from 1919

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday


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