Remember This: Erasers

Dorri Partain
Northeast News

Make no mistake, erasing is much more fun these days than in years past.

Before Edward Naime discovered that a piece of rubber could erase pencil marks in 1770, writers needed to keep a piece of moistened, balled-up bread handy, as that was the most common eraser available.

He marketed small pieces of rubber obtained from rubber trees as erasers, but they were crumbly and smelled bad.

Charles Goodyear invented the process of vulcanizing in 1837, which cured rubber, making it more durable.

While the Goodyear name today is a well-known tire brand, the vulcanizing process is used on all rubber products, including erasers.

The traditional pink rectangle-shaped eraser also contains pulverized pumice for additional abrasion, which also creates the color.

By the mid-1950s, vinyl manufacturers began making white-rectangle erasers which produced less crumbly residue.

As vinyl is easier to mold than rubber, manufacturers were also able to create detailed shapes, leading to an explosion of novelty pencil-topper erasers shaped as various cartoon characters around 1975, such as this promotional eraser featuring the Marvelous Magical Burger King.

Founded in 1953 as Insta-Burger King, for its use of the newly-developed Insta-Broiler, the expanding franchise used a cartoon-style king to represent its brand.
In 1976, a live action character, played by Dick Gjonola, could turn his magic ring and transport children to a Burger King restaurant for more tricks and fun food.
In later commercials, he was joined by characters the Duke of Doubt and Sir Shakes-a-Lot.

The magic king appeared on different types of promotional items until being phased out in 1989.

The pencil-topper eraser was available in both red and yellow, Burger King’s corporate colors, and is dated 1979.

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