November 07, 2003

Back in my day, we didn't know what "umber" was, and we didn't care

I just can't stop reading this page about Crayola colors through the years. I suppose everyone has a point at which their knowledge of crayon arcana slows down considerably, but I had no idea just how out of touch I was with the current slate of Crayolas.

I can get behind many of the colors introduced through the '90s, like "Cranberry", "Dandelion" and "Granny Smith Apple". (Oh, I guess I have a soft spot for representationalism after all.) But some of these things are just the most shoddily stitched-together portmanteaus. I mean, "Mauvelous"? That is a travesty. And why can we not just call the banana-like color "Banana"? Why is it called "Banana Mania"? Are manic bananas a slightly different shade than their more restrained brethren?

And, you know, it always irks me when adults get really patronizing to children, and a color like "Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown" seems like an example of that. I could get behind, say, "Teddy Bear" as a color, but "Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown" feels focus-grouped out the ass. And "Brink Pink"? I mean...that rhymes, yes, but what the hell does it mean? And do not even get me started on "Jazzberry Jam". Oh, I got myself started. "Jazzberry Jam"! AAAAAAAAAAAARRRGHH.

The thing that really makes me feel like a fossil is the twinge I get when I learn one of my favorite colors has been retired (also the fact that I say "Consarn it" at these moments). "Lemon Yellow" is gone? But that was the best yellow! I mean, probably that shade of yellow is mostly covered by one of the replacement yellows (perhaps "Canary"), but still.

According to this site, "Lemon Yellow" was one of eight colors ditched in 1990 for being "too dull to appeal to children today". Among the other seven was "raw umber". So let me get this straight. We can have two different goddamn siennas, but no umber? That's weak.

This all reminds me of a dream I once had in which Crayola had introduced a box of various different flesh tones appropriate to different races (you'll recall that they changed "Flesh" to "Peach" back in 1962). This dream was based in reality, but I think I can safely say Crayola never considered naming their product what I named it in my dream: the "Flesh Box".

Posted by Francis at 03:12 AM