In 1903, Crayola released its very first box of colored crayons. There were only eight colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black. Over time, Crayola has gotten much more creative with the color spectrum than just those basics. During their more than 100-year reign of the crayon industry, Crayola has released more than 120 different colors, including several creatively named favorites like denim, periwinkle, and Caribbean green. But they haven’t just added colors — several shades have been left behind. Here are all of the crayons Crayola has sent to the great big color wheel in the sky.
Officially, Prussian blue was the very first synthetic color ever created. It was first crafted in 1704 by a chemist from Berlin who mixed cochineal (a red dye) with iron sulfate and a cyanide mixture. The result was a dark blue pigment that quickly became a much sought-after shade. In fact, it was popular for so long that it outlasted the empire for which it was named.
The Kingdom of Prussia was dissolved in 1918 after World War I, so it was long gone by the time Crayola introduced the hue to their lineup in 1946. But by 1958, the company renamed their Prussian blue crayon to "midnight blue," either because schoolchildren didn't know what Prussia was anymore, or because of complaints that the name wasn't "Cold War sensitive."
In the 1960s, the U.S. was at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. To recognize that not everyone’s skin color was the same, in 1962, Crayola renamed its flesh crayon to “peach.” While the color itself wasn’t retired, the name “flesh” has never been used again. Even when Crayola released the 1958 limited edition crayon box, they retained the name “peach.”
In the same year that Crayola did away with Prussian blue, they released a brand-new color called “Indian red,” which was a reddish-brown hue. It was named for a pigment that’s commonly found around India, but for American audiences, the name felt like it carried racial connotations. It took 40 years, but Crayola finally retired the name “Indian red” in 1999 to avoid any misunderstandings with people of Native American descent. After more than a quarter of a million name suggestions and votes, the color was renamed “chestnut.”
1990 mass retirement
In 1990, for the very first time, Crayola decided to permanently retire some of its colors. Instead of simply renaming them, eight colors would no longer appear in crayon boxes under any name.
- Lemon yellow
- Blue gray
- Raw umber
- Green blue
- Orange red
- Orange yellow
- Violet blue
While those colors wouldn't appear in classrooms anymore, they were replaced by eight new colors with more exciting names: vivid tangerine, jungle green, cerulean, fuchsia, dandelion, teal blue, royal purple, and wild strawberry.
2003 mass retirement
After a full century in business, Crayola decided that it was time to kick a few more colors to the curb. Five colors were chosen for retirement, and fans were allowed to save one from the chopping block during their Save the Shade contest. The colors chosen were:
- Blizzard blue
- Magic mint
- Teal blue
- Burnt sienna
In the end, burnt sienna was saved from retirement and can still be found enjoying life in the Crayola 24-count box.
In March 2017, Crayola shocked the world when they revealed that the beloved color “dandelion” would be permanently retired and replaced by a new shade of blue. To help ease the pain, Crayola sent dandelion, or Dan. D as they called the animated crayon character, on a retirement tour all across the country. Crayola asked its fans to name the new shade of blue that would replace dandelion, and they came up with “bluetiful.”