Hip To Be Triangle

Hip To Be Triangle

Crooner Huey Lewis didn’t like the fact that it was “hip to be square” in the 80s. It’s a good thing he never came to my elementary school classrooms, then, because for a short time it was hip not just to be square but to be triangle. At least it was hip to have a triangle on your pencil. That triangle was the triangle pencil grip.

I’ve heard that the triangle pencil grip was supposed to be a writing aid, something to help kids who were having trouble holding the pencil correctly. I think I was vaguely aware of that fact at the time as well. However, as soon as they appeared on the pencils of a few students, all us gradeschoolers had to have them. Apparently the school wasn’t concerned about limiting them to the students that really needed them, because they sold them for a dime along with the much-coveted Atari pencils. At first, it was hard choosing between an Atari pencil and a triangle pencil grip, even though I really wanted them. But when the triangle grips went from solid colors to transparent, I bit hard. Even though I didn’t need one, I got a pencil grip of my own, and it rode my pencil for the rest of the year.
Pencil grips- triangle1
So a developmental tool that most kids would be ashamed of having on their pencils became a legitimate classroom fad that all the kids wanted. I guess Lewis was right. I guess it was hip to be square in the 80s.


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. You’ve actually solved a childhood mystery for me. I used to see these things lying around some classrooms (and more often than not on the floor in the hallway) when I was a kid, and I had absolutely no idea what they were for…

  2. I remember those and I think they are still being used today. Pencils, despite their shape, still seem to roll off tables and desks. Writing instruments are rife with mysteries

  3. I don’t think they were a developemental tool, I think they were to keep the frickin pencils from rolling off the desks. I know that’s how everyone viewed them back in the 80s. Indeed, they were usually pushed way too high up the pencil to be of any use in gripping it.

  4. I always wondered what these were for. I remember everyone in school suddenly had them though, everyone except me and my friend. I am not sure why but after a week, a schoolmate of ours gifted us each one of hers. Maybe she did not want us feeling left out?

    I had no idea what do with it though. I found it impossible to be comfortable with it, but I felt bad not using it. So for the rest of the year I carried that thing from pencil to pencil.

  5. According to someone selling them at Amazon they are

    “Triangle Grips are a classic style, giving a comfortable grip that encourages proper finger posture. Suitable for left-handers as well as righties, they slip on standard-size pencils easily and hold their position securely. The illustration shows five color varieties that may come in the 3-pack.”

  6. I remember this item real well. When I was in the 1st grade I had difficulty holding the pencil in the proper grip according to the teaching society. This caused me to be sent to a once a week 30 minute teaching session to improve my pencil holding technique. I can’t remember how many of these grips I was given to help correct my problem but I know a majority of them were given to classmates once I got back to my normal classes. To this day I still don’t properly hold a pen/pencil.

  7. These triangles were omnipresent in pencil cases, but I rarely saw or used them on actual pencils.
    Guess kids never got used to the feel (or being told what to do!).

    Used them as grips for a while, but they felt odd.
    Could never figure out where to place ’em along the pencil.
    Like Mike, I also can’t properly hold a pen (got noticed for it often enough, always figured as long as I wrote, who cares how I grab a writing tool?)

    Drahken’s guess is the best use of them, yet. My pencils always ended up rolling off the desk at some point.
    Caused a minor ruckus to hear the resulting sound of careless desk arragement hit the floor, to witness the disruptive hurry to get off the chair and recoup the errant tool before the teacher got wise, and then try not to be embarrassed at being hunched over at skirt-level of fellow female classmates as my rolling pencil dared me to reach under their desks.

    Ah, if I only had known the many uses of the Triangle.

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