Chalk It! is an eraser gadget that converts chalk dust into whole pieces of chalk. Production began in late 2008 by Crayola, LLC and products were officially sold in stores on December 13, 2009. It quickly became widely accepted by teachers and professionals nationwide. Chalk It! was approved for further production and distribution in 2010 in Canada, where it was also met with positive reviews. In January 2011, the US Department of Education purchased the patent for the product for $15 million. However, on March 31, 2015, production was officially discontinued due to the “declining use of chalkboards.”
Chalk It! consists of a removable container, SRS-545SH motor, centrifuge, water storage component, and spring dispenser. The gadget is run on portable AAA batteries or on USB. When ran along a chalkboard or chalkboard ledge, Chalk It!’s small motor vacuums the air that meets the eraser’s surface. The air goes through the centrifuge that separates the chalk dust from other particles, which are transferred and stored in the removable container. The chalk dust is then combined with water and heat to solidify in a tube, where it can be dispensed by a spring activated through the push of a rear button.
Chalk It! ranked as one of Forbes’ “Hottest New Inventions of 2009” despite being released to the public at the end of the year. It was well-received by large corporations, including Scotch, Epson, and Duracell, as well as professional firms including the Big Four. Other supporters of the product, including Oakland Unified School District, praised Crayola, LLC for this advancement in the handicraft industry and contribution to their schools. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also complimented on the product’s “ability to counter the effects of air pollution, decreasing the amount of chalk dust in the atmosphere from 0.14% to 0.08%.”
Despite general public acceptance, Chalk it! was also met with criticism. In the popular 2011 case of Michael G. Scott, office manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch, Michael sued Crayola, LLC when his dysfunctional Chalk It!’s motor reversed motion, releasing residue everywhere in the air. However, he later admitted in an interview with Business Insider that he had misused the product as a lint remover, causing it to jam and malfunction. Other critics claimed that Chalk It!’s features became faulty over time, the most common being that as heat continuously generated in the product, it warped the shape of the dispensing tube, preventing whole pieces of chalk from being dispensed efficiently.
Decline in Popularity
In 2014, Crayola, LLC CEO Mike Perry reported that Chalk It! sales began decreasing shortly after its success peak. According to Reuters.com, sales lowered by 26% compared to its initial 142% growth rate in 2011. When asked to comment on the statistics, Marketing Associate Kelly Hinton explained that the trend was caused by the "transition of using chalkboards to using whiteboards and Microsoft PowerPoints for classes and business meetings.” At the 2014 World Business Forum, a company representative gave final confirmation that the halt of Chalk It! was undergoing final plans. The halt was officially implemented early 2015.