Review of Dixon Ticonderoga Groove.

Last weekend, I strolled though an Office Depot to see if they had anything interesting while my wife and daughter waited to get fabric cut for Halloween at the fabric store next to The Depot. I found a pencil I’d never seen or heard of before: the Ticonderoga Groove, a triangular cedar pencil with grooves cut into the shaft, all in the familiar yellow and green. They smelled incredible, and I was in line with one of the two 10-packs in the store before I knew it. They turned out to be on sale for $0.34 (!), and I couldn’t leave without grabbing the other dozen.

The blister pack indicates that these were made in the Chinese factory. In my experience, the Dixons coming from China are superior in every way to those coming from the Mexican facility, save that the Mexican varieties are more common in the United States these days. The finish is more “even,” more yellow. The ferrule is attached better. There are fewer uncentered leads. And the leads themselves are a few shades darker and many times smoother.

This pencil was no exception, and it is certainly one of the smoothest pencils from Dixon I have ever used. It’s just fantastic. With Dixons like this, I might have been able to avoid my previous Dixon prejudice.

The grooves themselves definitely do what they are supposed to do: combined with the triangular shape, you’re not going to slip with this pencil. Of course, Comrades who don’t enjoy tri-pencils or who would find exposed wood…dimples uncomfortable might look elsewhere for Graphite Joy. What I have found that the grooves also do is to spread the wonderful cedar aroma more widely and more intensely than a regular pencil. And the last time that Dixons smelled quite like this to me was when I opened a pack of Dixon Blacks in 2004 and well, sniffed them repeatedly.*

It’s hard to explain. Different cedar pencils smell differently to me. Smell a Hi-Uni, a Cedar Pointe and then a Dixon. I swear I can smell the difference, even if I would not consent to doing it blindfolded.

This is a nice pencil, with a nice lead and a pretty good finish. What really surprised me was that Dixon also put a triangular ferrule and eraser on this pencil. The Tri-Write has a round one, as does the Rhodia pencil. The Tri-Conderoga has a triangular ferrule, but it is also it’s own size — that is less surprising. It’s a nice touch, on a surprisingly well-designed “specialty” pencil. As for the eraser, it’s the usual pink substance from Dixon. Personally, I think Dixon erasers are perfectly serviceable, if still not perfect.

At Press Time, this pencil is still not listed on Dixon’s USA site, and I suspect its existence is related to the Lyra pencils that FILA also owns. If you can find it online (or on sale at Office Depot!), it’s definitely a great pencil, doubly so if you like something with added grip. I’m taking one camping this weekend, with the Rite in the Rain book we’re testing.

*(Dixon hadn’t started coating everying in Microban in 2004; so that’s not the source of the smell.)