Banana Mania. Burnt Sienna. Cerulean. Crayola is famous for its whimsical crayon names, and now they’re set to retire one of their signature colors. Dandelion is on its way out. It’s only the third time in Crayola’s 100-year history that it has retired colors, and the first time it’s ever removed one from the iconic 24 crayon set. At a packed event today in Times Square, people gathered hoping that Crayola would unveil the identity of the replacement color. Emily Dugdale has the story.
DUGDALE: Under a tent in the middle of Times Square, there was a retirement party for a crayon.
It’s National Crayon Day, and Crayola is seizing the opportunity to shake things up. News leaked yesterday that the company was set to retire “Dandelion” – a yellow crayon color – from the company’s original 24 box set of Crayons. But today, die-hard Crayon lovers flocked to the colorful Crayola stage to hear Crayola’s other big announcement: What’s the new color?
DUGDALE: Melanie Boulden, senior vice president at Crayola, heads up to the stage to deliver two clues.
BOULDEN: The first is that the new color will be part of the blue family. And the second is, this summer we’re going to invite our fans to name our new color.
DUGDALE: What Boulden didn’t say is what the new color actually is. Rachel Murray, a long-time Crayola fan, is disappointed.
MURRAY:I can’t lie, I was hoping it would be in the pink family. The pink crayons are my favorite [laughs]. Can never have too much pink.
DUGDALE: Kendall and Chris Hargret were also in the crowd, and are whispering to themselves trying to decide what the new color should be called based on the clues.
CHRIS: Oh, man, I have no idea what the new name would be….
KENDALL: Maybe…, juicy berry blue
CHRIS: Maybe… blueberry sky, or something like that.
DUGDALE: Even though Crayola hasn’t officially retired a color since 1990, they have done a lot of “renaming.” Colors like “Torch Red,” became “Scarlett.” During the Cold War, “Prussian Blue” became “Midnight Blue” due to criticism that the name was unpatriotic. In response to the Civil Rights Movement, “Flesh” – a pink crayon – was renamed “peach” as a way to recognize different skin colors. Crayola has manufactured 331 crayon colors to date – but given out 759 names. So there’s some speculation that this “new” color, might not be so new.
DUGDALE: Andrea Bonezzi teaches marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business. He’s also a dad who’s bought his kid Crayola crayons. He says it doesn’t matter if Crayola decides to rebrand a discontinued color, or make an entirely new one. Consumers won’t care.
BONEZZI: You probably at the end of the day, don’t really care and don’t even know what colors are in the box when you buy it.
DUGDALE: He says that there’s really only one reason for the change: it’s good marketing.
BONEZZI: I think this is a brilliant move. Everybody knows Crayola, everybody has some kind of emotional connection I think with Crayola because we all use these colors when we were kids. So now, all of a sudden you remove something, it’s a little bit as if you are removing a piece of identity from consumers. So it’s something that now gets people to talk.
DUGDALE: Bonezzi says even if the company rebrands an old color as new, he doubts normal consumers will care. But there’s a few people with strong opinions on what Crayola should do. Ed Welter is a crayon historian who sold his collection of over 50,000 crayons and 3,000 boxes to Crayola in 2014. He spent ten months chronicling Crayola’s color-change history on his website and says there’s a big difference between Crayola’s corporate message and their true history.
WELTER: They have this public persona of you know, oh we started with 8 crayons we went to 16, you know and it just progressed up to 64 and then 120 – and it didn’t [laughs]. It’s been changing for 110 years.
DUGDALE: Welter says the company’s color history is complicated. A blue in the “original” 1903 box isn’t the same as a blue in the original box today – but is marketed under the same name. And some of that just has to do with time. Colors changed due to different pigmentation sources lost over the years.
Welter says that instead of always trying to create a splash with new colors, he wishes Crayola would look back at history.
WELTER: I’ve always advocated, why don’t you bring back the true original colors. Things like matterlake, english verminian, chrome green, van dyke brown. These were the colors that were around in 1903 when this box first came out.
Welter doesn’t have any insight into what the new color will be. But as for Dandelion, he says it’s strange that Crayola would get rid of it. Dandelion is only 30 years old – too young for any crayon to retire. Emily Dugdale, Columbia Radio News.