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Is Dixon’s Ticonderoga Truly ‘The World’s Best Pencil’? We Don’t Think So


Dixon’s Ticonderoga pencils are iconic. Whenever you happen to think relating to the pencils you wrote with as a baby—blonde wood, yellow paint, inexperienced metal cuff, red eraser—you’re potentially picturing a Ticonderoga. It’s possible you’ll per chance take them pleasant necessary wherever faculty gives are equipped, and yr after yr lecturers particularly demand them for their lecture rooms.

But are Ticonderogas no doubt “The World’s BEST PENCIL,” as their packaging loudly announces? In a discover, no.

In an extra and extra digital world, pencils are much less favorite than they as soon as had been. But they nonetheless enjoy a particular utter in new existence, especially for K–12 college students who exhaust them to draw, rep notes, attain their homework, and beget in bubbles for standardized assessments love the SAT and ACT (which require No. 2 pencils, even at some level of an outbreak). For something that continually will get historical several hours per day, 180 days of the yr, a pencil shouldn’t soft be sufficient—it goes to nonetheless be correct.

What the educated says

Caroline Weaver, creator of The Pencil Nice and Pencils You Must Know, says she has never stocked Ticonderogas at CW Pencil Challenge, the pencil shop she owns on the Decrease East Facet of Contemporary york. And the intention being that Ticonderogas enjoy modified.

“It’s in actuality been slightly a protracted time since Ticonderoga pencils had been made within the United States,” she says. That skill they’re no longer the identical pencils you presumably can enjoy historical as a baby, even supposing they see the identical. “The leads internal are most steadily damaged, or they’re no longer successfully-centered so they don’t sharpen successfully. They’re no doubt no longer big pencils anymore.”

Dixon was as soon as obtained by an Italian firm in 2005 and now manufactures most (if no longer all) of its Ticonderoga pencils in Mexico and China, in step with a 2018 investigation by the Washington Put up. But it has successfully edged out many of its competitors by keeping a distribution center within the United States and efficiently lobbying the federal govt to impose a steep tariff on Chinese language pencil corporations—bigger than doubling bills for some rivals. (Dixon didn’t reply to our demand for statement.)

“Lots of the classic pencil corporations, especially in The united states, from the 1980s thru now, had been dissolved or consolidated into elevated conglomerates that don’t basically specialise in pencil making,” Weaver says. Pencils enjoy handiest just a few substances—the core, the wood, and the eraser—and “they must nonetheless be made no doubt precisely in expose to characteristic successfully.” Weaver notes, “I mediate it’s soft a weird and wonderful stage of craftsmanship and a weird and wonderful stage of care that you simply gather from these smaller, family-bustle corporations.”

For K–12 college students in direct, Weaver recommends pencils from Identical outdated Pencil Company in Contemporary Jersey, Musgrave Pencil Company in Tennessee, and Palomino, which is owned by the California Cedar Products Company. As well to higher quality trust an eye on and building, she says, these corporations exhaust high-grade wood of their pencils—continually incense cedar, which she says is “the gold favorite” for pencil wood—so they continually designate extra to make.

“I realize that, in quite plenty of cases, Ticonderoga and other pencils within the much less expensive designate bracket is most more than possible the most piquant alternatives within the retailer. But I’d argue that for designate-effectiveness, you’re higher off procuring for a slightly dearer pencil that’s going to closing you longer,” she says. “A elevated-quality wood goes to sharpen extra with out anguish and extra successfully.”

That goes for the lead contained within the pencils, too, which is made of ground-up graphite and clay. “The core of a pencil is actually a ceramic object. If it’s a abominable pencil, you fall that part as soon as, it’ll soft break. After that you simply may per chance have the flexibility to’t exhaust it in any admire,” Weaver says. “Whenever you’ve ever had a pencil the save you’re soft sharpening and sharpening and the lead keeps falling out, that’s because the core has been shattered.”

What our making an strive out says

11 pencils we tested, taped and numbered for anonymity.
We taped over the designate names and numbered every pencil so our testers may per chance compare writing, sharpening, and erasing abilities with some neutrality. Photo: Sarah Witman

We no longer too long within the past tested the classic yellow Ticonderoga pencils against their sunless-and-silver brethren, to boot to a slate of alternative contenders. We introduced in some cheap alternatives from AmazonBasics, Arteza (a Florida-primarily primarily based mostly startup that makes its pencils in China), Madisi (a firm that has almost no online presence), and USA Gold (which is owned by Mattel) that designate lower than 20¢ apiece. We additionally tested a amount of alternatives costing 40¢ to 80¢ per pencil—namely, the Identical outdated Semi-Hex 498, the Musgrave Harvest 320, the Palomino ForestChoice, and the Staedtler Norica. Essentially the most expensive pencil we tested was as soon as the Palomino Blackwing 602, which has a replaceable eraser and a cult following and continually bills bigger than $2 per pencil.

None of the pencils we tested are as ubiquitous as the Ticonderoga, however you may per chance have the flexibility to nonetheless uncover all of them slightly with out anguish online or at tall-box stores. They’re all No. 2 or HB grade, which refers again to the ratio of graphite to clay within the core, determining its coloration and hardness. Some are presharpened, however they’re all about 7½ to 8 inches long. All are hexagonal in form, and all enjoy an eraser on the discontinue, held in utter by a metal cuff.

  • closeup of the pencil shape and erasers of the pencils we tested.

    Every pencil we tested has an eraser on the discontinue, a No. 2 or HB core, and a wooden, hexagonal barrel. Photo: Sarah Witman

  • A person erased a crossword puzzle answer with the Blackwing 602 pencil eraser.

    The Palomino Blackwing 602 (proven right here) is the pleasant pencil we tested with a replaceable eraser, however the sunless Dixon Ticonderoga’s eraser is the most piquant we’ve tried. Photo: Sarah Witman

  • Four pencils and their shavings.

    A correct pencil must nonetheless arrangement a protracted, continuous shaving when sharpened. The shavings within the foreground came from a Palomino Blackwing 602. Photo: Sarah Witman

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We had four Wirecutter staffers write, doodle, and beget in Scantron bubbles with every pencil and then assess the quality of their marks (had been they soft and shadowy, or grainy and faint?) to boot to their comfort and graspability. We additionally sent every tester our accepted hand-powered pencil sharpener and requested them to examine every pencil’s sharpening and erasing capabilities.

You’ll want to read our e-book to the most piquant pencils (coming quickly) for our full making an strive out notes, however right here are the first conclusions:

  • Ticonderoga pencils are elegant, however they’re nowhere shut to the most piquant performers—or the most piquant deal. In writing abilities, our testers ranked the Ticonderoga (yellow) pencils third easiest, after the Palomino Blackwing 602 and Arteza pencils. The Ticonderoga (sunless) pencils came in eighth utter after the Palomino ForestChoice, USA Gold, Identical outdated Semi-Hex 498, and Musgrave Harvest 320. Both Ticonderogas equipped middling efficiency in sharpening quality, though the yellow one sharpened slightly higher. Alternatively, the sunless Ticonderoga had the most piquant eraser of any pencil our staffers tried, while the eraser on its sunflower-colored counterpart was as soon as slightly sensible.
  • A tight pencil want no longer designate bigger than a quarter. The Arteza, USA Gold, and—yes—Dixon Ticonderoga pencils (both sunless and yellow) are all elegant alternatives that designate lower than 20¢ per pencil. Plus, they’re even much less expensive within the event you soak up bulk.
  • It’s possible you’ll per chance toughen smaller corporations by paying soft a tiny top payment. Whenever you’d love to e-book sure of procuring from conglomerates and don’t mind spending a chunk extra, the Identical outdated Semi-Hex 498, Musgrave Harvest 320, and Palomino ForestChoice fit the invoice. All of them accomplished soft to boot to or higher than most of the much less expensive alternatives, and though you presumably can no longer see them on the shelf at your local Target or Walmart, they’re nonetheless pleasant broadly on hand. Indulge in their much less-expensive pals, they’re on hand in bulk—which is useful if your early life are inclined to dropping things or soft at possibility of burn thru quite plenty of pencils.
  • It’s worth spending extra for high of the range, within the event you may per chance have the flexibility to swing it. For the final handwriting experience, see no additional than the Palomino Blackwing 602. It’s one amongst the most chuffed pencils we tested, and it earned the tip grade in writing quality. Appropriate be ready to pay high dollar, too.
  • Immoral pencils attain in any admire prices. The AmazonBasics, Madisi, and Staedtler Norica pencils didn’t lower the mustard (and the closing of those three is one amongst the most expensive pencils we tested). These had been the three worst performers in writing clarity and fluidity, and to boot they ranked among the least chuffed pencils to retain and write with. We don’t imply them.

The underside line is, if your baby’s trainer asks for Ticonderogas by establish, that’s what it is most life like to nonetheless gather. Lecturers in most cases exhaust many of of bucks out of pocket to inventory their lecture rooms with mandatory gives, and to boot they shouldn’t additionally be tasked with changing shoddy pencils—or arguing with fogeys over the deserves of slightly just a few pencil manufacturers. But within the event you attain enjoy some leeway, you may per chance have the flexibility to uncover hundreds of correct conceivable selections.

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