Pop-a-Point Pencils

Pop-a-Point Pencils

You wouldn’t get far in your scholastic studies without a pencil, sharp and ready to go at a moment’s notice. The wooden graphite variety served us well for centuries, but with the 80s came innovation in the form of the the Pop-a-Point pencil. They were stylish, fashionable and, for better or worse, they eliminated the need for a sharpener.

The Pop-a-Point pencil was developed in Taiwan by the Bensai Pioneer Industrial Corporation in the 70s and is sometimes referred to as a Bensai pencil. The precursor to the modern mechanical pencil, the Pop-a-Point worked by housing a number of of graphite rods within. When the writing tip became blunt from use, you simply pulled it out from the writing side and re-inserted it into the other end, thereby pushing a nice new sharpened point forward.

The pencils made their way to the States in the mid-to-late 70s and, within a few years, became the coolest school supply one could possess since the advent of Trapper Keepers and scented markers. Available in a variety of colors and styles, some even sported popular characters of the day such as Rainbow Brite, Care Bears and Transformers. Besides the boring graphite version, one could also exercise their creative muscles with colored pencils and even a crayon version.

There were a couple of drawbacks to the Pop-a-Point pencil. For one thing, many of them didn’t include an eraser (the whole purpose of using a pencil in the first place). That was one little accoutrement you didn’t want to be without on the day of the big test. In the early years, you had to provide your own until manufacturers eventually began attaching erasers to the caps. That was a happy day for fans of the Pop-a-Point.

Sadly, the introduction of the Pop-a-Point pencil also made obsolete the traditional trip to the pencil sharpener. This was a plus for teachers, who no longer had to clean up messy shavings – less so for students who often used their time at the pencil sharpener as a brief respite from taxing their brains, or spent a little time socializing with others waiting in line, say that cute girl or boy you had a crush on. That’s the price we had to pay for progress. We’ll let you decide if it was a worthy compromise.

Were Pop-a-Point pencils part of your school supply arsenal back in the day? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on these memorable writing utensils in our comments section below.

5 Responses to “Pop-a-Point Pencils”

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  1. stephanie says:

    Gosh this was a treasure to come across! I remember these pencils like it was just yesterday. I loved them! I remember the numb feeling my fingers would get after using it for awhile, because there were no indentations along the side. I remember how after so many point changings, sometimes the top cap would come loose and they would all fall on the floor in an embarressing way, and you’d pick up what you could but couldn’t find the last one, so then you couldn’t use the pencil because they’d slide up in the pencil… I also remember trying to erase, forgetting that ,alas, there was no eraser, and someone would snicker if they saw ya in “mid erase mode”…

    Today, while searching through all the sorts of nostalgia that I could remember (scratch and sniff, trapper keepers, cool erasers, pencil toppers, and that awesome pencil sharpener that had a little globe on it), I saw a picture of my most favorite of all pop a point pencils… the sniff n smile version. Same pencil, same shape, but with strawberry pics on the side and scented on the pencil, AND an eraser… OMG i HAD THAT!!! I’ve tried goggling and ebaying and nothing comes up….only on a site about 80s sniff stickers did it show that little gem.

    I love sites like these…. takes you back to simpler times…times of making strange shaped notes, playground jump rope songs, trading stickers, strange teachers and the beloved pop a point pencil.

  2. Cody says:

    Wow, I remember these in elementary school. I’m almost 17 now… The bad thing about these was that if you lost *ONE* of those pieces, those little buggers were useless… Plus once you used them all, you just had to buy a new pencil. Still fond of them though

  3. MZ says:

    What were these called in the 1970s? That is when my brother and I first remember using them, but can’t think of what they were called.



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