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An Ode to the Ticonderoga #2 Pencil

True confession. I’m in love with my Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencils. No other brand does it for me. While other pencils imitate the canary yellow color and plump pink erasers, they lack what every pencil should do best: perform.

Here’s the thing about a #2 Ticonderoga. First, it doesn’t shred or break when sharpened, not even the first time. The tip goes in flat and comes out pointed. Period – so to speak. No jaggedy shards blister off to annoy you with splinters. There are never any half-turned or broken tips. All one sees is a pencil eager for words, although to be fair, some credit goes to my efficient Boston pencil sharpener.

Which brings me to the pencil's lead (which, by the way, is graphite and powdered clay, not lead. You can chew away, folks.) Something about how the faux lead glides causes me to wonder whether the proportion of graphite to powdered clay is a secret ingredient. Does Ticonderoga hold a special patent? Somehow, I always find it easier to keep writing with a Ticonderoga. The glide of the graphite makes me want to write and write and write. I don’t know whether the graphite in these pencils is considered a signature color (like Tiffany blue or Virgin Airways red), but it’s dark enough to read, and a firm a decisive gray that says, “I know when to use a semi-colon and how to spell artichoke.”

Okay, here’s the best part, though. And teachers will back me up. Kids, too. Ticonderoga erasers actually erase without messing up the notebook paper. Again, it must be a secret ingredient, because I have yet to find another pencil that doesn’t leave the page smudged or torn. When I work in classrooms, I always bring a container of Ticonderoga pencils with me because sometimes kids try to be shifty and use up their writing time standing at the pencil sharpener or searching through the contents of their desk for a pencil, which turns out to be a 2” gnawed nub with no eraser left. I probably go through a few dozen pencils a year, but it doesn’t bother me.

Who wouldn’t want to end the day with a pencil that makes one feel like writing for a change?


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