On Saturday, July 12th, good old “Etch-A-Sketch” will celebrate the
54th anniversary of its creation in America. In France, they may add
one more year to this number, as the inventor, Arthur Granjean, had
this toy named, “Magic Screen,” and was ready to manufacture it in
1959. Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia gives credit to a French
man named, Andre Cassagnes. How did I learn of Arthur Granjean
and his “Magic Screen?” A poster that was on a friend’s wall, told
of the creation of the Ohio Art company’s product. Supposedly,
according to the Clement’s “news and views” poster, Granjean took
his invention to the Nuremberg, Germany toy fair.
Arthur Granjean chose to sell the idea, for which we in the U.S.A.
should be grateful for, since many of us have enjoyed trying to get the
two different knobs to go the way we imagined!
I looked up the current prices, since this is still being sold at many
Big Box stores, like Walmart. The prices vary, from as much as $22.93
to as low as, $15.59.
I am happy to tell you that my two grandsons have one “Etch-A-Sketch”
between the two of them. When I asked my daughter-in-law, Trista, she
said they “had one but it ended up left outside and got moisture caught
While I went around asking coworkers about their experiences with the
“Etch-A-Sketch,” I learned of a few frustrated ‘artists’ and listened to
their favorite things to ‘draw’ using this tool.
I had some comments about this toy, their expectations of the ‘toy,’
and some musings about, “What this new generation would think of the
We all agreed that it may be considered, ‘boring’ to today’s standards,
due to its lack of technology.
Also, we found out, almost EVERY person I asked over the age of thirty,
Sketch!” It became one toy we could say was, ‘non-gender specific.’ Also,
I heard some humorous thoughts about it, as far as whether one gender
was ‘better’ than the other at creating pictures. There seemed to be a
little ‘competition’ on this point!
One friend mentioned that they can be quite artistic in presentation
and recommended looking up the website, to view some of the elaborate
designs and pictures that artists had rendered. I found out while looking
at these beautiful creations, that the stuff that makes the pictures can be
actually ‘drained out’ to allow the picture to become permanent! I also
found this to be comforting to know, since there were times my brother,
who was outstanding at making his “Etch-A-Sketch” come alive! Now I
know that if someone does this ‘now-adays’ they can preserve the pictures.
Here are some funny comments that I heard from my fellow warehouse
1. Tammy said,
“My favorite designs to make were checkerboards on my Etch-A-Sketch!”
2. Melvin, (ever the tease and comedian) said:
“I created colorful rainbows on my Etch-A-Sketch!”
When I gave him my ‘stern teacher look’ he folded and told me that one
of his best pictures he ever made on it was: “A dragon!”
3. My male friend, who I hope someday to be more than friends, told
me that he had ‘trouble making many things on his Etch-A-Sketch.’
“My favorite thing was to try and make a house, but I could not make a
slanted roof, so I made it a square one. Then I added windows and a
door, also a sidewalk. I was very proud of that accomplishment, since I
am not an artist. Another thing I liked to do, was to grab my younger
sister’s Etch-A-Sketch and try to shake her picture away! I was a ‘brat!'”
4. Robin said very enthusiastically,
“I remember having one of those! I liked to draw lines and squares. I made
one time a square snowman!”
(I told you that she was my ‘twin’ according to Melvin, even though her hair
is short and blonde. It sticks out like feathers everywhere and she is very
up. She reminds me of the woman on the “Drew Carey Show.” This wild
character’s name was ‘Mimi Bobeck,’ played by the actress, Kathy Kinney!)
5. Joe, one of the shipping guys, mentioned an interesting fact that had
eluded me, that he thinks it was “one of the toys that everyone got.” He
could not remember what the advertising for “Etch-A-Sketch” looked like
nor could he remember a ‘jingle’ or tune.
Everyone that was at our second break, hearing Joe. They all agreed,
“Slinky” had a cool song that went with its toy. Some wondered why
we could not visualize the advertising on commercials for this toy?
“I loved the sound of what seemed to be metal filings or sand ‘swishing
around’ in that toy!”
6. Charlene, my fellow ‘soap opera’ addict, during ‘second break’ watching
the show, “The Bold and the Beautiful” said her favorite ‘activity’ using her
Etch-A-Sketch, was to ‘create mazes.’ Wow!
7. My brother once ‘drew’ a horse on his Etch-A-Sketch, for which I wish I
had a photograph of this memorable artwork!
8. I cannot remember any creative endeavors so complicated as a horse or
a maze, but I did learn how to make ‘circles.’ My best pictures and favorite
drawings were of roses with tightly ‘twirling inner petals and then looser,
ruffled edges on the outside.’
9. Chuck, passing by and being ‘flip’ told us all that he liked to make pictures
“Starless, moonless nights. I made completely black pictures, starting from
the left corner, going back and forth, until it was covered.”
10. Mary Jane, says that she had a ‘coveted’ toy, “Etch-A-Sketch” while she
lived in the Philippines as a girl. She shared this with many of her cousins,
liking to see how they would make their pictures. Then, she says,
“I would take it home and practice, practice, practice!”
The next time she saw her cousins was during a special holiday.
MJ expressed her satisfaction and joy at demonstrating to her family
and cousins her best drawing:
“I made a table with dishes on it and the plates held food. Some were
little circles and others were lines back and forth. Then, I described
our ‘feasts’ with the different homemade dishes, like ‘adobo,’ ‘lechon,’
and ‘pancit palabon.'”
M.J. said her uncle actually clapped! This made her smile, remembering
this special moment.
Note: Traditional Filipino meals include rice dishes, which were her “little
circles.” Then, Mary Jane explained her “back and forth things she
drew were their homemade noodles.”
That was my personal favorite story about “Etch-A-Sketch!!”
Are you inspired yet?
What was your favorite or best design that you made on your Etch-A-
If you didn’t have an Etch-A-Sketch, did you visit someone who did?
Have you ever seen a special design that stood out in your memory,
created on one of these ‘toys?’