The Elusive Flesh Crayon |:| Ig’nant Toys

I was upstate the past couple of days (without internet!) and was unable to post any of the good news on the good good that is margins of NYC spirituality. I would’ve liked to report on something of the sort while in the mountains, hoping to run into a lost sadhu wandering above the tree-line, however, unless I dig deep to unpack the non-dualist I-Am-That-ness of floral bedspreads in the B&B I was staying at, the truth is I came up a little dry.

I did, however, stumble upon something I had hoped to stumble upon for some time now.

While combing the shelves of an antique shop looking for an appropriate crucifix to wear around my neck, (crucified God-Man as hermetic Kali Ma), I came across an old box of Crayola crayons, the contents of which I immediately rummaged through to see if the nasty rumors about unchecked white-normative kid’s toys were really true.

Did Crayola at one time label their peach-colored crayon “flesh?”

Answer: You betcha!

I had always wondered if this were true, having vague memories of using said racist crayon as a young kid. This memory, however, was faint and the passing of time made hazy what would have been crystal clear had I been a little older while staying within those ominous lines. Nevertheless, Crayola finally checked themselves.

This little post from OnMilwaukee.com sums the story up nice enough:

Crayola changed the name of this crayon in 1903, from “flesh tint” to “flesh” to “pink beige” and then back to “flesh.” It finally switched for good to “peach” in ’62.

But, this isn’t the only time Crayola changed their color names.

In 1999, the crayon named “Indian red” was changed to “chestnut” because kids identified the color with Native Americans even though it was named after a dye from India. Other Crayola name changes over the years include “Van Dyke brown” which became plain ol’ “brown,” “Madder Lake” changed to “dark red,” “rose pink” to “carnation pink” and “charcoal gray” became just “gray.”

Race is one of those subjects I can spin out on for days and not get tired. It’s a slippery lil’ pink elephant and depending on a person’s relationship to the State, just might be the axis mundi of that person’s perceived Reality. I can’t get into too much here, but let’s just say that it is my belief that although spiritual catharsis—the immersion into and as the Great It—will always trump race, the self that houses the Great It can’t get outside it (right now at least).

I mean, check this out: This box of $3.00 “Made in the U.S.A” crayons were virtually untouched, however, while all the crayons bore nice new tips, the only crayon that appeared to have been used with great fervor—despite being one of the most useless crayons in the box—was the white one, worn down to a sad little white-normative nub.

Come on!

This box must’ve been owned by the Klan, ’cause I don’t know anyone who uses a white crayon that much!

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4 replies

  1. Hah! It was startling to see the word incorrect word “Flesh” on a beloved old trademark like Crayola (nostalgia?) Wow.. It truly shows how times were reflected back then.

  2. it sounds to me like this box was bought for easter egg making; you take the white crayon, draw patterns on the egg, and then dye it, and the dye does not dye the wax bits, so you can make negative patterns on your eggs.

  3. I’m sitting on a crap load of crayola boxes with the Indian red color. I’ll be waiting for some red blooded American capitalist to take the off my hands if the socialist don’t get their green first.

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