If you were to explicitly ask me whether Marines EAT CRAYONS, I would have to say yes. However, there are some compensating factors.

If you’ve been in the military for a while, you’re undoubtedly already aware of some inter-service competition. Of course, we in the Marine Corps make fun of one other, but not nearly as much as we may make fun of some of our sister branches.

Most military personnel and veterans say that this smack-talking is done without any actual malice. In fact, it acts as a basic type of social connection for many of us. We may both make fun of one another’s (and our own) branches to break the ice if I’m eating lunch with some Soldiers I just met. These jokes aren’t necessarily symptomatic of any actual problems with a particular branch; rather, they’re intended to poke fun at common misunderstandings about our individual professional backgrounds and our positions within the larger defence system.

marines eat crayons consume crayons.


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It is a lengthy way of stating that we talk a lot of bull, but if someone attempted to speak up who hasn’t received a set of dog tags, we wouldn’t let it. We learn to pick on one other in good spirit via our common experiences in uniform.

Having said that, the frequent stereotypes we perpetuate include that the Navy is weak, Soldiers are obese, and Marines are foolish. Every topic has several versions (some less safe for work than others). Naturally, none of these slurs are true in terms of the whole branch, but we all know that picking on your buddies is more about getting the joke in than it is about truth.

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The stereotype-in-joke that I’m most used to is the traditional “Marines are stupid” vein of comedy, since I still encounter it on a regular basis as a veteran. It may take many different forms, from offensive usage of the term “Jarhead” (which was first made up due of our hairstyles) to jokes regarding ASVAB waivers (suggesting the Marines will take recruits that fail to reach the minimum score of 32 on the ASVAB test). The most common insult against a Marine’s intellect, though, is to refer to them as a crayon eater.

Marines consume crayons.

Don’t catch the part about how “Marines eat crayons”?

Concern yourself more with the humour itself and less with the joke’s origin.
The origin of the joke that Marines are “Crayola gobblers,” or about as intelligent as a hungry baby, may be attributed to a variety of factors. The ASVAB minimum score standards for each branch are 32 and 31 (out of 100), respectively. Notwithstanding the fact that the Army accepts applicants with a little lower score than the Marines will permit, neither branch can be too boastful about our testing requirements.

Marines consume crayons.


The sleeves on this man are my main issue.

The things that make so many of us happy to wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor in the first place are, in many respects, the basis for the genuine “dummy” reputation the Marine Corps holds. Marines take great delight in being the first to engage in combat (at least sometimes, hey Army? ), but others have criticised this trait as being reckless. Marines must adhere to extraordinarily rigorous dress codes, both when in uniform and outside of it, which has led some to question our ostensibly unwavering adherence to even the most minute instructions and rules. Yet for those of us in the Corps, such unwavering adherence to commands is a source of deep honour.

It brings up the crayon incident once again. The term “crayon eater” has never once been used to refer to me with even the tiniest hint of animosity, yet it is now such a well-known joke that even people who have never served can identify it online. In fact, it’s so typical that a few years back, when I was at a press conference for SHOT Show in Las Vegas, someone hired a waiter to bring two Marines who were guests at the event a beautiful tray full of huge crayons.

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Marines consume crayons.


In a room full of veterans, military members, and defence media types, the joke was warmly received. When the tray approached us, I took a command decision.

I took up a red crayon from the tray and ate the darn thing while standing up and waving to our audience.

The choice was met with applause from the audience and acceptance nods from the other males I saw in the audience sporting the recognisable high and tight hair style. Leaning in and keeping in mind that we’re all truly on the same side here might be the greatest way to take a joke at times.


Red crayons also taste the finest.

Which piece of inter-service nasty talk is your favourite? Feel free to express yourself in the comments section below, but let’s keep things professional. As usual, our humour should be based on respect for one another and comradery. Don’t bring the hot ones inside the squad bay.

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