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Historical Crayola rainbow
July 31, 2011 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Crayola Color Chart 1903-2010. It's not just Green Yellow and Yellow Green anymore. (via DataPointed.) (More DataPointed color-data goodness.)
posted by escabeche (77 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
If I'm reading this tree correctly, both raw umber and teal blue were evolutionary dead ends.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:52 PM on July 31, 2011


There should be 13 of those dead ends since there are 13 retired colors. Wikipedia says they're "Blue Gray", "Lemon Yellow", "Orange Red", "Orange Yellow", "Violet Blue", "Maize", "Green Blue", "Raw Umber", "Thistle", "Blizzard Blue", "Mulberry", "Teal Blue", and "Magic Mint".
posted by theichibun at 8:57 PM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Information is Beautiful also. I think I first saw this version of Crayola there.
posted by Miko at 8:57 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brings me back to Kindergarten, and my first disappointing experience with Burnt Sienna. It's not Orange, it's not Brown, and it sure as Raw Umber ain't Pink. It just looks like Beaver ate Salmon.
posted by hanoixan at 9:09 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


And still just as delicious!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:13 PM on July 31, 2011


I like the weathersealed version better.

My other favourite crayola thing: rockets!
previously
posted by zamboni at 9:28 PM on July 31, 2011


12 up on the left.... WTF?
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 9:31 PM on July 31, 2011


Orange Red and Blue Gray are both legitimate losses. I will mourn them.
posted by penduluum at 9:43 PM on July 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Violet Blue"

Crayola didn't remove the crayon, they unpublished it.
posted by Justinian at 9:50 PM on July 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wikipedia has a list of crayon color names, with hex codes and so on.

A lot of the names make me want to eat a crayon: Wild Strawberry, Macaroni and Cheese, Salmon, Asparagus.... Crayons, there what's for dinner.

Don't eat the crayons, children.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:51 PM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Something's wrong -- because I clearly remember Flesh in the early 70s. (Wikipedia says it was renamed Peach in '62 but that can't possibly be correct 'cause I wasn't even alive then.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:05 PM on July 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


BlahLaLa, the Crayola people say the name changed in 1962. Maybe because peach/flesh is kind of ugly, you inherited an old, largely unused crayon from a sibling or classroom or something? I wasn't born then, either, but I too have distinct memories of the Flesh crayon, because - ew. I was less impressed by the racism than the horror of a crayon made of flesh. (Yes, Freud, I heard you, now go back to coloring, please, and let the grownups talk.)
posted by gingerest at 10:16 PM on July 31, 2011


I remember "flesh" crayons, too, and was similarly grossed out. They were from Prang, however. Maybe that's where the memories are coming from?
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:23 PM on July 31, 2011


The Crayola sets when I was a kid definitely had "flesh" crayons in them. But I checked the page source, and the string "flesh" doesn't appear anywhere in there.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:26 PM on July 31, 2011


They got rid of "Raw Umber" but left "Burnt Umber" and, apparently, "Medium-Rare Umber."
posted by chimaera at 10:27 PM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


12 up on the left.... WTF?

Yikes. I think Crayola must have some sort of mandate that there must be at least one racist crayon in the set. I definitely remember Flesh as late as the eighties. And Indian Red, too.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:59 PM on July 31, 2011


(Also: Beaver?!)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:01 PM on July 31, 2011


I would like to color an apple with inch worm.
posted by Cranberry at 11:07 PM on July 31, 2011


Born in '83. I'm pretty sure I remember "flesh" being a color.

Also, it never really made sense that that color was called "flesh"; even if we're being racist, it should be called "skin".
posted by madcaptenor at 11:15 PM on July 31, 2011


madcaptenor: it's the color of the flesh of a peach.
posted by aubilenon at 11:25 PM on July 31, 2011


Oh, yes. I remember flesh. The way it tasted. How we had to stop when the missionaries came. But then came the night we fell upon while they slept and dragged them to the fire..

Oh wait.. crayons..
posted by Ahab at 11:32 PM on July 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


You're thinking of that color which was a blend of Burnt Umber and Flesh. I think it was called Burnt Flesh. They may have discontinued it.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:40 PM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also solidly remember that Crayola had a "flesh" crayon as far up as the 1970's, even though Wikipedia says it was discontinued in 1962. Maybe Crayola discontinued them, but had tons of them in back-stock to last until the 1970's?

Crayolas have a particular smell that evokes vivid memories for me.
posted by not_on_display at 12:06 AM on August 1, 2011


Yup, as far as I remember, crayons have always been evil.

You might be coloring with the last remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex!

Meanwhile, I suggest that every parent of a six-year-old pitch in to update crayola's gamut from CRT to LCD color space.
posted by 7segment at 1:20 AM on August 1, 2011


I might be recalling incorrectly, but I thought if you were lucky enough to get the Big Ass Box of Crayolas
you would find both a "flesh" and "peach" crayon therein, and they were two different colors.

It is entirely possible we just got some old crayons, though.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:31 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: "12 up on the left.... WTF?

Yikes. I think Crayola must have some sort of mandate that there must be at least one racist crayon in the set. I definitely remember Flesh as late as the eighties. And Indian Red, too.
"

But Indian Red is an actual color, named for a soil/pigment of India (no connection to Native Americans).
posted by Gordafarin at 2:32 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Black should be Afro-American.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:46 AM on August 1, 2011


Not to change the subject, or anything, but personally I object to Crayola's dominance of the child activity market in restaurants.

I mean, I take my kids to a restaurant and invariably, if the restaurant accommodates kids at all, they accommodate kids through crayons.

They have a "kids menu", which is usually an excuse to keep the kids busy coloring the kids menu. There's a kids menu on one side, and some outline of an image on the other, and the kids are supposed to occupy themselves by coloring in the image.

Often the image is related to the brand identity of the particular eatery. The kids are supposed to be satisfied, or at least less bothersome, by coloring in the regions of the image. Usually the color palette is restricted to a few basics.

I'm truly disturbed by the lack of imagination in these child activities. I tell my kids to color "outside the box". Instead of using their Crayolas to meticulously color inside the lines, I tell my children to make polka dots, or stripes, or zany zigzags. I tell my kids to color outside the lines.

There must be a restaurant somewhere that has other things for kids to do, but I haven't seen one yet. So I'm going to keep encouraging my kids to fuck with the system.

Total obedience to a meaningless system begins with Red, Green, and Blue, colored inside the lines when you're bored.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:13 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also remember "flesh." Er.

Anyway, I remember the color in my box-o-crayons, c. 1972 or 1973. I think one year we got the BIG box with the built-in sharpener, maybe 64 colors? Most school years we got the little flat pack, eight colors, I'd guess.

What they really needed was a 12-pack: 7 colors + 5 black crayons.
posted by maxwelton at 3:14 AM on August 1, 2011


Total obedience to a meaningless system begins with Red, Green, and Blue, colored inside the lines when you're bored.

I was a member of the "Zippy Bunny Club" (Zip's Restaurant chain, one of the many Denny's-before-Denny's-was-the-only-survivor-of-the-genre chains). I think my rabbit's foot key-chain was dyed two shades of blue. I loved that thing.

(Would it even be possible to give out a little pack of goodies for kids these days where one of the items was a dead animal part? Not sure abandoning the giveaway of bunny pieces isn't an improvement, but thinking about it now, it's kind of weird.)
posted by maxwelton at 3:19 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was being mocked for the clutter on my desk, and trying to insist that all this stuff has some kind of meaning. One fellow then picked up the single crayon lying there, saw what color it was, and said, "If anything will support that notion, thistle."
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:59 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh. I love this. I had these green, metal flip-top boxes that I kept my crayons in as a kid. I remember starting kindergarten and being mortified at the fat, mostly-round-but-flat-on-one-side anti-roll crayons lying in a flat box in the middle of each table.

A brand new crayon fresh from the box is still a glorious thing. I have a six year old now and we own more crayons than should be allowable by law, and I still get nostalgic for a few of the old colors.
posted by PuppyCat at 4:49 AM on August 1, 2011


One thing that's surprising with crayons is that, so far as know, none of the colors are sponsored yet. Someday there will be a "Pepsi Blue" crayon near the "UPS Brown" and the "Coke Red."
posted by drezdn at 4:54 AM on August 1, 2011


Pink Sherbert?
posted by DU at 4:57 AM on August 1, 2011


"12 up on the left.... WTF?

Yikes. I think Crayola must have some sort of mandate that there must be at least one racist crayon in the set."


"Fuzzy Wuzzy" is racist?
posted by DU at 5:04 AM on August 1, 2011


One thing that's surprising with crayons is that, so far as know, none of the colors are sponsored yet.

Soylent Green!
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:04 AM on August 1, 2011


Sort of related: Roseart vs. Crayola
posted by bobobox at 5:09 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


> none of the colors are sponsored yet
Not in the regular packs, but there are special promo releases. I picked up the GE “The Colors of Ecomagination” set at a wind conference: Purification Purple, Evolution Orange, Mother Earth Brown, Cleaner Coal Black, Solar Yellow, Revitalized Red, Hybrid Green, and Clear Water Blue.

(and I gave them to a little kid, even though I knew I could hawk them on ebay for like fifty bucks)
posted by scruss at 5:11 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sort of related: Roseart vs. Crayola

Maybe Roseart doesn't run, but they always seemed like a lesser crayon to me than Crayola (could just be marketing that penetrated my brain, though).
posted by drezdn at 5:14 AM on August 1, 2011


> Fuzzy Wuzzy" is racist?

Yes.
posted by scruss at 5:16 AM on August 1, 2011


"Mauvelous?" "Fuzzy wuzzy?" "Wild blue yonder?" "Outer space?""Razzmatazz?"

Ook does not approve
posted by ook at 5:17 AM on August 1, 2011


As far as stupid color names go, Crayola's got nothing on OPI nail polish. Their recent Texas collection includes "San Tan-Tonio" and "Houston We Have a Purple."
posted by HeroZero at 5:26 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. I've never heard of this racist fuzzy-wuzzy angle. My only association with the term is also from a poem, but I don't think it's from Kipling:

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy, was he?
posted by DU at 5:35 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whatever keeps the Roseart crayons from running is probably what also keeps them from leaving color on the paper. Crayola crayons are *definitely* better.
posted by DU at 5:36 AM on August 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe Roseart doesn't run, but they always seemed like a lesser crayon to me than Crayola

Oh, yes, I think that was supposed to be the point of the experiment (via). Crayola has softer wax, better for drawing, more colorful too.
posted by bobobox at 5:36 AM on August 1, 2011


Crayola® describes its multicultural line as “an assortment of ethnic-sensitive color palette.” The new crayons come “in an assortment of skin hues that give a child a realistic palette for coloring their world.” The 8 different crayon colors are black, sepia, peach, apricot, white, tan, mahogany, and burnt sienna.

Not sure about you but I don't look at my skin and say.... "Burnt Sienna!"
posted by Fizz at 5:38 AM on August 1, 2011


Not sure about you but I don't look at my skin and say.... "Burnt Sienna!"

You might in the right lighting conditions. This is something that really bugged me as a child. If you have brown hair and brown eyes and a mere 16 color palette, how do you draw skin? Even someone well-served by a "peach" skin color crayon needs choices for things like tan lines, streaks in the hair, shadows on the body, clothing vs skin, lips, fingernail areas, palm color vs arm color, etc. A set of crayons designed specifically for drawing in the "body palette" would have been great.
posted by DU at 5:53 AM on August 1, 2011


For a bit more crayon nostalgia.
posted by jedicus at 5:57 AM on August 1, 2011


I love the idea of a palette specifically for skin-tones for the rest of us (brown to black or anywhere in between people). I just find the names rather amusing.
posted by Fizz at 6:06 AM on August 1, 2011


I used to think color names were stupid, but really, what are they going to do? If they aren't going to give them hex codes or something else objective, then any name is as meaningless as any other. "Yellow orange" is not as descriptive as you might think.
posted by DU at 6:10 AM on August 1, 2011


Not only do I remember "flesh" crayons from the 70s, I remember using Prussian Blue as well. Wiki says it was discontinued in 1958, but seriously, it was still in the box as late as 1978, because it was my favorite color.
posted by headspace at 6:22 AM on August 1, 2011


headspace I'm glad I'm not the only one that remembers colours like Prussian Blue (Midnight Blue) and Indian Red (Chestnut), I guess there was a pissed off Indian Prussian somewhere breaking crayons in frustration!
posted by Fizz at 6:26 AM on August 1, 2011



Total obedience to a meaningless system begins with Red, Green, and Blue. . .

It's funny that RGB keeps popping up in online discussions about dyes, pigments, and paints. Go ahead and try getting yellow using those three crayons.


I definitely remember Flesh as late as the eighties. . .
I clearly remember Flesh in the early 70s. . .
I remember "flesh" crayons, too. . .
The Crayola sets when I was a kid definitely had "flesh" crayons in them. . .
I'm pretty sure I remember "flesh" being a color. . .


A hue and cry, eh?

A quick survey of the web reveals two datasets on 'flesh' colored crayons: I suggest there are four possibilties to explain this phenomenon: I was in grade school when Crayola says the name was changed, so I almost certainly do remember actual crayons labeled as 'flesh' and 'indian red'. I will say that even then, everykid observed that 'flesh' did not, in fact, match anyone's skin color. At the same time, I assumed that 'indian red' was intended to mean the color of Native American skin, so it's a good think they changed it even if it does mean something else in professional dye and pigment circles.
posted by Herodios at 6:30 AM on August 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only one that remembers colours like Prussian Blue

I too remember Prussian Blue. Fortunately lately they've gone green.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:35 AM on August 1, 2011


I suggest there are four possibilties to explain this phenomenon:

A fifth possibility: people used crayons that were made from human flesh and labeled as such. Everyone just thought they were referring to the color instead of the contents.
posted by drezdn at 6:36 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't like Flesh because I'm opposed to installing the Flesh plugin.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:38 AM on August 1, 2011


> "Fuzzy Wuzzy" is racist?

It was, briefly, in the late 1800s. Must keep all outrage from all past ages current!


> I don't like Flesh because I'm opposed to installing the Flesh plugin.

Flash is evil. Flesh is grass.
posted by jfuller at 7:29 AM on August 1, 2011


A 6th possibility...in the early 80s Crayola claims to have discontinued the Flesh color in 1962 in order to distance itself from its horrible racist past. It was a willful rewriting of history...in crayon.

Since no one objectively catalogued proof of the Flesh crayon that they got in their 64 pack for Xmas '79, everyone believes Crayola because they have graphic designers and press released.
posted by ian1977 at 7:32 AM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


press releaseS
posted by ian1977 at 7:32 AM on August 1, 2011


A massive conspiracy by Crayola exists to shove racist crayons down the memory hole. 'Flesh' crayons were still being made until just the day before yesterday, the same day Crayola agents edited the Wiccuhpeedia page.

It doesn't take a "massive conspiracy" to perpetuate a single lie, especially on the internet.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:40 AM on August 1, 2011


Prussian Blue was one of the first synthetic colors, invented in 1709, and it is the "blue" in "blueprints." It is called Prussian or Berlin blue because it was invented and sold by a Berlin paint maker.

One thing I never understood about crayons is why I loved Blue Green and every other kid hated it. I still love Blue Green-- in fact the blue-green strata is my favorite place to hang out.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:45 AM on August 1, 2011


But Indian Red is an actual color, named for a soil/pigment of India (no connection to Native Americans).

Yes, I know that now. I didn't when I was seven.

> "Fuzzy Wuzzy" is racist?

It was, briefly, in the late 1800s. Must keep all outrage from all past ages current!


Try saying it in Brixton, and see how it goes over.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:01 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tend to agree with Herodios, I think everyone called it "flesh" when I was a kid but that was probably not the official name, after all, what kind of kids call crayons the official name? The only reason I remember Prussian Blue and Burnt Umber was watching Bob Ross, he also used what sounded to me like "Lizarden Crimson", that was a pretty awesome color.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:25 AM on August 1, 2011


"Fuzzy Wuzzy" is racist?

Try saying it in Brixton, and see how it goes over.


I only know that it is racist from reading British fiction. Americans will either think of a poem about a bear, or "warm fuzzies".

Heck, around here a "packie" (pronounced the same as 'Paki') is a store where you buy beer.

I mean, thanks for the language, England, but if you don't mind we'll just let you keep some of the harsher meanings for yourself. Love, America.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:56 AM on August 1, 2011


As a child I was incredibly frustrated by the existance of both a "Red Orange" and an "Orange Red." I think even then, I was hoping for a little more creativity in naming conventions. That they were wildly different colors frustrated me even more.
posted by librarianamy at 10:41 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, it never really made sense that that color was called "flesh"; even if we're being racist, it should be called "skin".
I recall being delighted once to find a stick of lipstick called "flesh" that actually was flesh-colored, reminiscent of a fine, raw, steak. It's just about the only time I've seen something with that label that wasn't in the peach/taupe/champagne range.
posted by Karmakaze at 11:06 AM on August 1, 2011


As a child I was incredibly frustrated by the existance of both a "Red Orange" and an "Orange Red." I think even then, I was hoping for a little more creativity in naming conventions. That they were wildly different colors frustrated me even more.

"Wildly different"? One was a little bit redder than the other.

The way it works is pretty simple: The first-named colour is the modifier of the second (dominant) hue, so "Red Orange" is an orange that is a bit red, whereas "Orange Red" is a red that is a bit orange.

R - OR - RO - O - YO - OY - Y - GY - YG - G - BG - GB - B - VB - BV - V - RV - VR

Personally, I've always preferred this logical approach to the "let's just pull names out of our asses" method that results in "melon" being the colour of no melon I have ever encountered in my life.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:45 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the height of my coloring career in the mid '70s, I remember getting a brand new box of 64 crayons and having "flesh" as one of my colors.

I didn't have any older siblings that I could have inherited crayons from, nor do I believe that crayons lingered on our stores' shelves 15 years past the name change.
posted by ladygypsy at 12:27 PM on August 1, 2011


"Lizarden Crimson", that was a pretty awesome color.

Oh you just reminded me of how much I love the name Crimson Lake.

Back to the color wheel. I do agree that many of these names are crap. Purple Mountain's Majesty? Really? Is any kid going to ask his friend to pass him Purple Mountain's Majesty? And Purple Heart? That's just wrong. Children playing and Battle wounds should not share common ground. Jazzberry Jam? Ugh. Some kid is going to be asking for jizzberry, I just know it.

Razzle Dazzle Rose is not rose, it is pink and Lavender should be less pink and more blue-purple. Finally, I am surprised at how orange "Tan" is, If I saw someone wearing pants that color I certainly wouldn't say they were wearing tan pants. Although come to think of it, some white folks who overdo the self-tanning cream do come out that weird orange color.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:55 PM on August 1, 2011


Metafilter: distinct memories of the Flesh crayon
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:37 PM on August 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


In the height of my coloring career in the mid '70s, I remember getting a brand new box of 64 crayons and having "flesh" as one of my colors.

Is the ' '62/'79 Flesh Crayon Saga' to become MeFi's latest '"Meep Meep"/"Beep Beep"' story? First, traffic.
posted by herbplarfegan at 2:01 PM on August 1, 2011


Bob Ross. . . used what sounded to me like "Lizarden Crimson", that was a pretty awesome color.

Just thought I'd pop back in here and say:
Alizarin crimson is a red dye made from a chemical called alizarin, extracted from the madder plant. It's what makes redcoats red.
posted by Herodios at 4:03 PM on August 1, 2011


Right around 1970 my dog Smokey got into my Crayola (tm) crayons, ate a whole bunch, then spent the next few days shitting technicolor turds all around the yard. Quite humorous at the time...
posted by UhOhChongo! at 5:12 PM on August 1, 2011


I remember Prussian Blue, Indian Red, and Flesh.

I recall that those were the color names that were printed on the crayons, because that mattered a lot to me.
There were subtle distinctions between the colors, and forgetting and grabbing the wrong one would absolutely ruin my drawing, sending me into a fit where I would draw Xs on everything and probably cry because I was a temperamental artist.

So you can't lie to me, Crayola. I didn't have friends to distract me from reading the sides of crayons.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:14 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yep, there were definitely, without question Flesh colored Crayola Crayons circa 1980. I know because I would hold them up to my skin and see how close it was. It was not very close.

Were they all produced before 1962? I guess they could have been? I mean, anything is possible. But I have a hard time believing that Crayola produced at least 20 years worth of crayons and then warehoused them until they were sold.
posted by Justinian at 8:50 PM on August 1, 2011


I've thought about this all day. By time I had crayons, the skin color we are talking about was most certainly called peach.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:53 PM on August 1, 2011


I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have started this flesh derail. It's my proudest MetaFilter moment EVAR!

And just to add to it: I was born in '67 and there's no possible way that my parents just happened to have ancient crayons sitting around for me to color with in the early 70s. I didn't even have any older siblings. So Crayola, I'm calling it: YOU'RE A STINKING LIAR AND FLESH EXISTED INTO THE 70s!!!!!!!!!!
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:12 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


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