5 Times Crayola Fired Their Crayons

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By Paul Davidson

Cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith introduced their first eight Crayola crayons in 1903. Since then, the world has changed, and so, too, have the names of their waxy creations. Be it ever-shifting societal, racial, or political atmospheres, these crayons of yore have a revisionist history unto themselves.

1. "Flesh" Crayons Change Their Name

While everyone acknowledges that the civil rights movement brought about great strides in American society, most individuals overlook the huge advances it brought to the crayon community. In 1962, Crayola voluntarily changed Flesh to Peach in an attempt to avoid any legal issues and encourage people to embrace seeing the world in black and peach.

2. Prussian Blue receives Icy Treatment

The Kingdom of Prussia (part of modern-day Germany and Poland) remained an independent state from 1701 to 1871, but 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, after teachers continued to voice concerns that the crayon wasn't Cold War"“sensitive. Crayola hoped the color's new name, Midnight Blue, would help make it less political and certainly less useful in coloring Iron Curtains.

3. Indian Red was a nod to India?!

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, despite the famous song, these chestnuts should never be roasted over an open fire. Mainly because they soften and melt at around 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Eight Men Out: Colors Get 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 Get 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 have veto power over your marketing department isn't always the best idea.

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August 1, 2009 - 7:20pm
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