Sharpie (marker)

Sharpie is a brand of writing instruments (mainly permanent marker pens) manufactured by Newell Brands, a public company, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally designating a single permanent marker, the Sharpie brand has been widely expanded and can now be found on a variety of previously unrelated permanent and non-permanent pens and markers formerly marketed under other brands. Sharpie markers are made with a number of tips. The most common and popular is the Fine tip. Other tips include Ultra Fine Point, Extra Fine Point, Brush tip, Chisel tip, and Retractable tip.

“Sharpie” was originally a name designating a permanent marker launched in 1964 by the Sanford Ink Company. The Sharpie also became the first pen-style permanent marker. In 1990 Sharpie was acquired by The Newell Companies (later Newell Rubbermaid) as part of Sanford, a leading manufacturer and marketer of writing instruments. In 2005, the company’s popular Accent highlighter brand was repositioned under the Sharpie brand name. A new version of Sharpie called Sharpie Mini was launched, which are markers half the size of a normal Sharpie and feature a clip to attach the Sharpie to a keychain or lanyard. In 2006, Sharpie released a new line of markers that had a button activated retractable tip rather than a cap. Sharpie Paint markers were also introduced. As of 2002, 200 million Sharpies had been sold worldwide. Sharpie markers are manufactured in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico and Maryville, TN, and with numerous off-shore partners globally.

Sharpie sponsored the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500, a popular night-time race at Bristol Motor Speedway, from 2001 through 2009. For the 2010 season, Newell Rubbermaid switched the sponsorship for this race to its Irwin Tools brand. Sharpie sponsored the Nationwide Series Sharpie Mini 300 race from 2004 to 2008. Prior to 2006, they sponsored Kurt Busch, who was the 2004 Sprint Cup champion. Sharpie also sponsored Jamie McMurray in the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In recent years, Sharpie commercials have followed the slogan “Write Out Loud”. These advertisements depict people using Sharpies in bad situations, such as using the marker to touch up a car and a college woman highlighting words in a book to notify a male student that his fly was open. Also, a middle aged woman trying to think of what to write for her resignation letter, writes “I QUIT” with a red Sharpie. David Beckham is sponsored by Sharpie and appears in a commercial signing autographs with a Sharpie and trying to steal them.

Though Sharpie ink will become mostly permanent after setting, it can be erased. A dry erase marker is usually successful in removing sharpie ink by covering the sharpie ink using three to four pen strokes. WD-40 will work moderately well on recent markings if dry-erase markers are not available. Crayola’s “Color Wonder” mess-free markers have also been effective in removing Sharpie ink that has been dried for several days. Sharpie ink that has dried for more than several hours can be removed with acetone and other ketones and esters, such as ethyl acetate, but acetone and other organic solvents may damage the surface of the material written upon. Isopropyl alcohol works well and is less damaging to some surfaces; rubbing alcohol is the dilute form, so it works more slowly. On some surfaces, the ink can be removed by coloring over the ink with a dry erase marker (since this marker’s ink contains organic solvents) and then removing the Sharpie ink and dry erase marker ink with a dry cloth. Steam cleaning has proved effective, as have rubber erasers. Magic Eraser has also proven somewhat effective on hard surfaces such as brick and very effective on wood furniture. There are no warning labels on Sharpie markers. They bear the new AP (Approved Product) certification symbol of The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). According to the organization: “The new AP (Approved Product) Seal, with or without Performance Certification, identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems. (Sanford LP became a member of ACMI in 1986) However, this does not mean that materials are not irritants or allergens. Such products are certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard, ASTM D 4236, and the U.S. Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA).” They are considered non-toxic for “normal uses”, meaning writing on posters, soccer balls and such. Sharpie is not meant for skin but is not dangerous with incidental exposure. Some products have been reported to be able to remove this product from the skin, such as rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, nail polish remover, facial cleaning pads, toothpaste, and even deodorant. However, the ink wears off on its own within approximately two days as the ink is on skin cells that are constantly being shed.Special Camp David Sharpies were made, as George W. Bush is a fan of the brand. During a National Football League Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks on October 14, 2002, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens pulled a black Sharpie marker out of his sock to sign the football he caught to score a touchdown and then gave the ball to his financial adviser, who was in the stands. The touchdown celebration would bring a resurgence to the NFL for new and innovative ways to celebrate touchdowns. It has commonly been referred to by sports fans as “The Sharpie Incident” or “The Sharpie Touchdown”. Sharpie markers are favored by illustrator Adam Hughes for inking large areas in his convention sketches. Sharpies are the writing utensil of choice by astronauts aboard the International Space Station because of their usability in zero-gravity. According to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who commanded the International Space Station in 2012-2013, “you can hold it any which way and it still works”.
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