5 Times Crayola Retired Its Crayons
Cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith introduced their first eight Crayola crayons in 1903. But the world has changed since then, and so, too, have the names of their waxy creations. With an eye towards shifting societal, racial, or political attitudes, the company behind these crayons of yore has scribbled over these original monikers in favor of more crowd-pleasing—but equally colorful—titles.
1. “FLESH” WAS NO LONGER PEACHY.
The Civil Rights movement had a direct impact on Crayola’s core stable of shades. In 1962, Crayola voluntarily changed “Flesh” to “Peach” in an attempt to preempt any potential legal issues—and to encourage coloring enthusiasts the world over to diversify their stick figures.
2. PRUSSIAN BLUE RECEIVED ICY TREATMENT.
The Kingdom of Prussia (part of modern-day Germany, Poland, and Russia) remained an independent state from 1701 to 1871. Unfortunately, the crayon dubbed Prussian Blue had a far shorter reign in the kingdom of colors. Introduced in 1949 alongside a cadre of 39 new cohorts, Prussian Blue was unceremoniously stripped of its name in 1958. Theories abound as to why—some speculate that the average kindergartener just didn’t know (or care) what Prussia was, while others point to the xenophobia of the Cold War era. Crayola hoped the color's new name, Midnight Blue, would help make it more relevant, and potentially less useful in coloring Iron Curtains.
3. INDIAN RED WAS SO MISUNDERSTOOD.
Introduced in 1958 with 15 additional colors (finally giving children 64 shades to work with!), this color was actually named for a pigment that originated in India. Over the years, teachers began to worry that children would see the crayon as a reference to American Indians' skin color. In 1999, the Crayola company changed the name to Chestnut—but that too came with a disclaimer. The crayon manufacturer warned children that these chestnuts should never be roasted over an open fire, as they soften and begin to melt at just 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. EIGHT COLORS GOT WAXED OFF.
The year 1990 brought about the first forced retirement of colors in the house of Crayola. And just like that, old fogies Blue Gray, Green Blue, Lemon Yellow, Maize, Orange Red, Orange Yellow, Raw Umber, and Violet Blue were sent out to waxy pastures. They were replaced with new-generation colors including Cerulean, Fuchsia, and Dandelion, which were considered bolder, more vibrant, and more likely to boost your Scrabble score.
5. KINDERGARTENERS BECAME DRUNK WITH POWER.
In celebration of Crayola's 100th birthday in 2003, consumers were encouraged to suggest new crayon names as well as vote out four crayon colors. The casualties of the Crayola tribal council were newer colors Blizzard Blue, Magic Mint, and Teal Blue, and the older Mulberry. These proud veterans stepped aside for such wildly creative crayons as Inch Worm, Jazzberry Jam, Mango Tango, and Wild Blue Yonder—proving that allowing kindergarteners to veto your marketing department isn't always the best idea.
This story originally appeared in mental_floss magazine.