Telescoping Crayon Tower

Illustration by Isabella Fassler

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing with regard to your Telescoping Crayon Tower (product number 52-0029), which I purchased with much excitement for $19.99 + HST from Toys “R” Us earlier this afternoon. While sorting the crayons into a more pleasing and practical colour scheme so I could begin using them, I happened to notice that amongst the 16 metallic options, two identical shades were named “blue steel.” At this point, I thought perhaps my impression that the 150 crayons contained in the three tiers of the tower were supposed to be different colours was false, and referred back to the box. The cardboard confirmed my notion, though, as it does in fact advertise, right on the front, “150 Different Colours!” After puzzling for a moment, I decided some margin of error in a factory situation where many small crayons are placed into many telescoping towers must be expected, and one doubled crayon colour is an acceptable margin.

However, as I continued to colour-coordinate my new purchase — and, if I may ask, why are your products not colour-coordinated to begin with? Better organization would save a lot of time for children (and adults) with mild to moderate obsessive-compulsive tendencies — I noticed that as well as the “blue steels,” there were two “electric limes,” two “navy blues,” two “purple pizzazzes,” two “bittersweets,” two “tans,” two “shadows,” and two unnamed white glitters. Which means there are actually only 142 colours in this telescoping tower, and a whole five per cent of the crayons are duplicates.

I’m not upset that I don’t have the full 150 colours to choose from, because that would be irrational. I’m sure that a set of 142 crayons provides plenty of variety for even the most demanding colouring projects I might embark on. I am upset, though, that I do not know which eight colours are missing. I am upset because I have been taken advantage of by shiny packaging and a belief in the truth. I am upset about the principles behind this error.

On your website, one query on the Frequently Asked Questions page reads, “Are there 150 different colours found in the Crayola Telescoping Crayon Tower?” The answer, given from your company, assures that, “[t]here are no duplicate colors found in this item. The Telescoping Crayon Tower contains 118 regular Crayola Crayons, 16 Metallic FX Crayons, and 16 Glitter Crayons.” I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume my Crayola purchase is the only one with eight repeats, but that seems unlikely.

I am concerned about Crayola’s stance on false advertising, partly because of my own defective product, but mostly on behalf of crayon-loving children everywhere. I recognize that your target demographic is almost certainly not thirtysomething women who spend their Friday evenings sorting crayons by hue, tint, shade and type — though, by the way, I’d be thrilled if the drop-down menu on your home page had more options than “I’m a parent,” “I’m a teacher” and “I’m a kid” — and so the brunt of this alarming discovery will fall on observant children all across the country. Crayola should be a company that allows the next (and current) generations to stretch their imaginations and promote their creativity, not teach them that consumerism is a cutthroat game where lying is the way to sell delightfully large packages of crayons.

I can only hope that my letter will not fall upon unheeding ears or, in this case, colour-deficient eyes. Take pride in your Telescoping Crayon Tower with the crayon sharpener included (fabulous idea, by the way).

Please also see my attached applications for your “Create a Colour Concept Group” contest, which I saw marketed on your home page. I have suggested 12 names — the maximum permitted per entry by the contest rules — but am particularly pleased with “masculine magenta” and “grey area,” from a scheme intended to promote political literacy and inclusivity in the arts and crafts of young creatives through the breakdown of binaries and stereotypes associated with colours. As there exists no clear rule on how many entries an individual is allowed, I have also attached a secondary entry (in the event you accept only a single entry, please consider only the aforementioned “Crayola Conscious Colour Wheel”) with a narrower, literary focus, which includes “Whitman white” and “leaves of grassy green.”

Thank you in advance for dealing with this matter in a timely fashion.


J. N.

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