The Triumph of the Crayolatariat: Thoughts on the Crayola Factory Tour, Nostalgia, and Simulacra
The thing of it is – it’s not a factory. In fact, when we hear the phrase “crayon factory,” many of us think back to those awesomely 80’s videos of how crayons were made – originally aired on Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street.
The video clips (aired in 1981 and 1988 respectively) generated so much demand for factory tours… the waitlist was sometimes 2 years long. But for as neat as the production process was, it was grossly inefficient. It wasn’t until 1990 that Crayola revamped their whole manufacturing process with new machines, workflows, etc. The result of this change was that the actual crayon production differed from the crayon production people imagined and remembered.
At the Crayola Factory, there is now a single production line, made from the original machinery, which demonstrates the older crayon making process a few times an hour. The article author, Greg Allen, offers up this David Foster Wallace-esque description:
And just in case you’re itching to see it again, here’s a segment from Sesame Street (the original Mr. Rogers version is available here