Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Recently, the pride of Easton, PA, (that’s the Crayola Company*, not boxer Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes), changed the name of eight of its crayons.

The kids who suggested the new names did not feel constrained to pick descriptive colors. This may cause problems for adults. For example, if your 5 year-old asked you to pass the Happily Ever After crayon, would you be able to guess that describes the color formerly known as Turquoise Blue? Is blue even the right color for eternal happiness? Isn’t blue a sad color?

The color formerly known as Laser Lemon was renamed Super Happy. This makes me think these kids are watching either “Saturday Night Live” (the Super Happy Fun Ball sketch) or "Seinfeld" (the Japanese “Super Terrific Happy Show!” episode). Either way, these kids are staying up too late.

I’m old enough to remember a more significant Crayola name change. Back in 1962, someone at Crayola realized that not all the children using crayons were Caucasians. Which meant that it was inappropriate having a color named Flesh. They renamed it Peach…which is progress, of a sort.

If you’re curious, Crayola has a web page detailing the names and changes to its colors. However, it hasn’t been updated to include the latest name changes. Maybe they're still debating the wisdom of Happily Ever After. I know I am.

*Yes, I know Crayola is manufactured by a company called Binney & Smith. But its only famous products are Crayola and Silly-Putty, so the company renamed itself Crayola LLC last year.


  1. The whole "flesh = white" thing at Crayola is one of the things that I found most hilarious about pre-Civil Rights era thinking. It can lead to a fun game where you try to think of the most offensive crayon colors possible. You can't just throw dirty words in there; they have to be colors that would make sense to a 50s Crayola executive, but be terribly, terribly offensive to today's way of thinking:

    Indian Red
    Charlie Chan (for pale yellow)
    TB Discharge (for green/yellow)

    And so on.

  2. That's hilarious, Jay!

    In fact, Crayola DID have an Indian Red. As their website explains:

    Indian Red is renamed Chestnut in 1999 in response to educators who felt some children wrongly perceived the crayon color was intended to represent the skin color of Native Americans. The name originated from a reddish-brown pigment found near India commonly used in fine artist oil paint.