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Who Creates the Names of Crayon Colors?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2014
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The names of crayon colors are created by manufacturing company employees, political issues, and public contests. Color names are sometimes selected by the product development teams and marketing managers that oversee the creation of new crayons, and pay homage to the plants, flowers, and trees that serve as inspiration for the pigmentation. These names can be changed if, after many years, they seem to be offensive to contemporary consumers. Occasionally, new pigments are invented to celebrate a landmark achievement of the manufacturer in which consumers are allowed to participate in the naming process.

The majority of crayon colors are named by the employees of the companies that produce them. These names are based on a broad range of inspiration, such as historical events, artists, art techniques, and nature. The color wheel, which is a visual representation created by wrapping the color spectrum onto a color wheel, serves as a guide for many of the original crayon names.

Red, blue, and yellow are the three primary colors that make up the color wheel, and were featured as three of the eight first colors introduced in most manufacturers' initial crayon boxes. These base colors can be combined in any amount to create all other colors. In addition, these boxes also featured orange, green, violet, black, and brown.

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Sometimes crayon colors are renamed to reflect positive changes that occur in different political climates. For example, in 1962, the Crayola® company changed the name of one of its crayons from flesh to peach. The peach color was originally named for its resemblance to the skin tones of caucasian individuals. As the American Civil Rights movement grew in popularity, the corporation decided to publicly recognize the fact that human beings, like crayons, also come in a variety of different shades that are each unique. Similarly, Indian Red, a color meant to reference a popular oil paint used in India, was renamed Chestnut in 1999 to avoid any unintended racial inference to Native Americans.

Crayon colors are often named by the general public by popular vote. Crayola®, which began in 1903 with eight basic colors, celebrated its 100th birthday in 2003. In honor of their achievement, the company held a competition in which consumers could vote on four new color names. In exchange, four old color names were removed. Consumers elected to retire magic mint, mulberry, blizzard blue, and teal blue in exchange for inch worm, jazzberry jam, mango tango, and wild blue yonder. This contest mimicked a similar one held ten years previous in honor of the company's 90th birthday in which 16 new colors were chosen by popular vote.

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