Deconstructing Product Design
The Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil is a symbol of the American classroom. The pencil’s hexagonal shape makes it easy to grip and also helps stop it from rolling off the desk.
Before computers, we used to write with pencils. Maybe you have to have grown up with them to appreciate the delightful ripple where the yellow paint meets the point. After years of writing with pencils, the middle finger of your writing hand develops a hard callous, which can actually become bone growth. I still have a bump thirty years later on my right hand from pencils. The main problem with a pencil is that the eraser dries up long before you ever use up the lead and nothing is worse than trying to erase with a dry eraser. It makes a horrible smudge that’s hard to get rid of even with a fresh eraser. Sometimes the eraser gets worn down enough that you end up scraping the paper with the metal band. I think they probably need bigger, softer erasers, particularly for kids who make a lot of mistakes.
Common ground for all Americans. This device in effect determines your future. We often make our final decisions in life with this device. From school exams to driving tests to voting in the elections.
The #2 becomes number one in determining our future.
When it came to school supply shopping back in the day, I would settle for nothing less. Even when mechanical pencils were all the rage, I could not get over the good ol’ Ticonderogas. The dependable and effective eraser, the quality of the lead, the perfect gold and green colors, even the way the wood smelled after you sharpened it … In general I prefer writing in pen, but I think if you offered me the choice between and pen or one of these, Dixon Ticonderoga #2 would win every time.
Again, another product unfriendly to lefties. As my hand slid across the page, over what I had just wrote, the smear of graphite compromised my slightly anal retentive cleanliness personality. Must wash hands after use.
While quality is surely not lacking, teachers prefer Ticonderoga pencils because the name references an event that all elementary school teachers must teach, an example of the effect of validation on consumer decisions
I was raised on Ticonderogas. My father drew plans from a home office, and he bought them by the box. In fact, for the first years of my pencil holding career, I didn’t know anything else existed. When it came to choosing from a box of old pencils at school, I would always choose the well-used and beaten Ticonderoga over the newer generic brand. Always.
I’m talking more from the perspective of an irresponsible user and safety reasons.
One of the problems with young kids using these things was that the end eraser somehow attracted itself into their mouths. Soon, you’d find the eraser detached and in the mouth, then chewed and maybe spat off eventually (unless the kid really liked it and handed it proudly to his gastrointestinal system to work on)
A lot of times, the empty alloy shell would also be bitten, chewed and made into a sharp edged bunch of crap.
I have known kids using pencils as weapons. No a smart choice for the user, not the receiver of the injury.
I’ve never thought about a pencil as much as I have tonight.
To begin, if there are 20 other wood pencils available, for some reason it is always the Ticonderoga that I give service to. I also favor this pencil over most mechanicals – they usually feed too much fine lead per click, leading to annoying breaks. The Dixon has a superior “feel” of quality among its peers, and its lead writes more smoothly than leads used in many other wooden pencils.
The hexagonal shape is comfortable, maybe even reassuring. It’s somehow just “better” than the round pencil somebody left at my desk, which I am comparing now. The yellow and green colors of the Dixon are more pleasing to the eye than this other “very yellow” pencil, so likely the shade was chosen very carefully. The brushed metal band also hints of quality.
I always thought the name “Ticonderoga” carried some power with it – and I don’t remember learning about Fort Ticonderoga in school (looked it up just before typing this paragraph). Maybe I knew the significance subconsciously.
Yes, wooden pencils still annoy me by running out of eraser before lead, but maybe other people have to erase less than I do. I’ve seen some pencils that feature a bigger eraser, but I’d still grab this Dixon Ticonderoga #2 before any other pencil that just features more eraser – save maybe the wooden Faber Castell mechanical with 9mm leads. We are in the 21st century and a good mechanical pencil makes more sense than having gazillions of wooden pencils turned into shavings.
I am impressed by your site, the simplicity and beauty of its design, and the resultant ease of navigation. Kudos. – Jose
The tactile, everyday, yellow-orange, evidence-in-hand for optimism … seven inches of lead and only a 1/4 inch eraser. Co-evolved with a Boston sharpener [I always wondered why there wasn’t an eraser cleaner/smudge remover as well] … Emptying the sharpeners had a unique “aromatherapy” of graphite and cedar that was visually akin to seeing the guts of roadkill. Taking a brand new pencil out of my pencil box would neutralize the effect and reset my sensibilities of this art called writing, drawing, drafting … Mechanical pencils skipped out on the visceral.
A disposable pen behind one’s ear just doesn’t cut it!
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