CLOSE
Original image
ThinkStock

Why Are School Buses Yellow?

Original image
ThinkStock

Depending on their playground status, people who took the bus to school as kids either have fond or not-so-fond memories of that childhood rite of passage: those giant leathery seats, the difficult to open vertical windows, and the flashing red stop sign that stuck out from the driver’s side. Perhaps the most easily recognizable aspect of the school bus is its unique yellow hue, which has remained the same for decades. Just how was this color chosen?

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, kids came to school in any vehicle that could get them there before the bell rang, whether it was a horse-drawn carriage or a wooden cart on a truck chassis. There was no uniform means of transport, a fact that frustrated both teachers and parents—who were concerned about students’ safety—and the companies that made the vehicles, who needed standardization for mass production (which would enable them to turn a profit).

In 1939, using $5000 in funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and following his own study of school transportation, Columbia University professor Frank Cyr organized a conference at Teachers College on the University’s Manhattan campus. He gathered together engineers and specialists from places like the Ford Motor Company and DuPont to establish national standards for school buses.

The conference created 44 school bus standards, including height and width specifications—and the vehicles’ color. To figure out which hue was best, the group laid out a wide array of shades from light lemon-yellow to dark orange-red along the wall in one of the rooms of Columbia’s Grace Dodge Hall, eventually narrowing the field down to three shades of yellow. Golden yellow was ultimately chosen by the specialists because the distinctive tint—originally called “National School Bus Chrome” and later updated to “National School Bus Glossy Yellow”—is the easiest color to see during the early morning and evening hours when buses operate. Bold black lettering covering the chassis completed the eye-catching look, which Cyr and company hoped would make people more careful when walking or driving near the buses.

Following the conference, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration registered the color in their records as a Federal Standard No. 595a, Color 13432. Initially, about 35 states adhered to the standardization; by 1974, all states used Glossy Yellow on their buses (the lone hold-out was Minnesota, which painted its buses “Minnesota Golden Orange” before making the change).

Buses aren’t the only vehicles to use the distinctive color; you’ll also find it on European mail trucks and cabs buzzing around New York City.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Who Was Chuck Taylor?
Original image
iStock

From Betty Crocker to Tommy Bahama, plenty of popular labels are "named" after fake people. But one product with a bona fide backstory to its moniker is Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers. The durable gym shoes are beloved by everyone from jocks to hipsters. But who's the man behind the cursive signature on the trademark circular ankle patch?

As journalist Abraham Aamidor recounted in his 2006 book Chuck Taylor, All Star: The True Story of the Man behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History, Chuck Taylor was a former pro basketball player-turned-Converse salesman whose personal brand and tireless salesmanship were instrumental to the shoes' success.

Charles Hollis Taylor was born on July 24, 1901, and raised in southern Indiana. Basketball—the brand-new sport invented by James Naismith in 1891—was beginning to take the Hoosier State by storm. Taylor joined his high school team, the Columbus High School Bull Dogs, and was named captain.

After graduation, instead of heading off to college, Taylor launched his semi-pro career playing basketball with the Columbus Commercials. He’d go on to play for a handful of other teams across the Midwest, including the the Akron Firestone Non-Skids in Ohio, before finally moving to Chicago in 1922 to work as a sales representative for the Converse Rubber Shoe Co. (The company's name was eventually shortened to Converse, Inc.)

Founded in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1908 as a rubber shoe manufacturer, Converse first began producing canvas shoes in 1915, since there wasn't a year-round market for galoshes. They introduced their All-Star canvas sports shoes two years later, in 1917. It’s unclear whether Chuck was initially recruited to also play ball for Converse (by 1926, the brand was sponsoring a traveling team) or if he was simply employed to work in sales. However, we do know that he quickly proved himself to be indispensable to the company.

Taylor listened carefully to customer feedback, and passed on suggestions for shoe improvements—including more padding under the ball of the foot, a different rubber compound in the sole to avoid scuffs, and a patch to protect the ankle—to his regional office. He also relied on his basketball skills to impress prospective clients, hosting free Chuck Taylor basketball clinics around the country to teach high school and college players his signature moves on the court.

In addition to his myriad other job duties, Taylor played for and managed the All-Stars, a traveling team sponsored by Converse to promote their new All Star shoes, and launched and helped publish the Converse Basketball Yearbook, which covered the game of basketball on an annual basis.

After leaving the All-Stars, Taylor continued to publicize his shoe—and own personal brand—by hobnobbing with customers at small-town sporting goods stores and making “special appearances” at local basketball games. There, he’d be included in the starting lineup of a local team during a pivotal game.

Taylor’s star grew so bright that in 1932, Converse added his signature to the ankle patch of the All Star shoes. From that point on, they were known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Still, Taylor—who reportedly took shameless advantage of his expense account and earned a good salary—is believed to have never received royalties for the use of his name.

In 1969, Taylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The same year, he died from a heart attack on June 23, at the age of 67. Around this time, athletic shoes manufactured by companies like Adidas and Nike began replacing Converse on the court, and soon both Taylor and his namesake kicks were beloved by a different sort of customer.

Still, even though Taylor's star has faded over the decades, fans of his shoe continue to carry on his legacy: Today, Converse sells more than 270,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors a day, 365 days a year, to retro-loving customers who can't get enough of the athlete's looping cursive signature.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
Original image
iStock

What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios