Back in the early part of the 20th century, children in schools used chalk and small chalkboards to take notes and practice assignments. It was a messy, dusty endeavor. In response, the chemical company Binney & Smith
developed a dustless chalk
for schoolrooms that became quite popular.
Building on that popularity and their relationships with schools, the company moved to improve already available wax crayons to make them safe for children. Scientists eliminated toxins and added color.
, wife of one of the partners, Edwin Binney, is credited with coming up with the name Crayola.
comes from the French word for "chalk," and
for "oleaginous" -- essentially, "oily chalk." In 1903, the company sold their first box of
, which came in eight colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black.