Crayola, the popular crayon brand owned by Hallmark Cards, has been creating colorful crayons for children since 1903. Over the many decades, Crayola has introduced hundreds of creative color names and retired dozens of them. While the reasons vary, discontinued Crayola crayons live on in the memories of generations of children and coloring enthusiasts.
History of Crayola Crayons
The origins of Crayola trace back to 1885, when cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith purchased a small coloring company called the Peekskill Chemical Works in New York. Initially, their company made colored waxes for pencils and carbon paper coloring.
In 1903, Binney and Smith introduced their first Crayola crayons for children. The brand name “Crayola” comes from the French word “craie,” meaning chalk, and “ola” for oleaginous or oily. Early Crayola crayons were made of paraffin wax and pigment and cost just a nickel for a box of 8 colors.
Over the next decades, Binney and Smith experienced massive success with Crayola crayons, producing billions of crayons and expanding its color palette. By 1958, the Crayola lineup had grown to 64 colors.
In 1984, Binney and Smith was purchased by Hallmark Cards, but Crayola has remained a popular school supply brand and quintessential part of childhood. While Crayola has introduced over 300 distinctive crayon shades since 1903, it has also chosen to retire dozens of colors over the years.
Why Did Crayola Retire Certain Colors?
Crayola has likely discontinued certain crayon colors for a variety of reasons, including:
– To streamline and simplify its product lineup
– Due to slow sales or lack of popularity
– To avoid controversy or potentially offensive color names
– To make room for new crayon colors in its standard box of crayons
By periodically retiring colors, Crayola can refresh its brand and introduce new crayon names and hues that resonate with modern children. Out with the old, in with the new. While nostalgic fans may miss old favorites, discontinued colors make room for fresh, creative options.
Some retired colors, like Prussian Blue or Raw Umber, may have seemed too traditionally artistic or intimidating to the average child coloring enthusiast. Others, like Flesh and Indian Red, were retired to avoid culturally insensitive overtones.
By occasionally pruning its 120-color selection, Crayola likely aims to offer a focused lineup of fun, appealing, inclusive options in its classic box sets.
When Did Crayola Begin Retiring Colors?
According to Crayola, the company has been retiring colors from its standard lineup and introducing new crayon colors since the early 1900s.
Some sources indicate Crayola’s first retired crayon color may have been Prussian Blue in 1910, replaced by Midnight Blue. Flesh was also allegedly retired in 1962.
However, the first definitive retired Crayola colors seem to be in 1990, when eight colors got the ax. These included Blue Gray, Green Blue, Lemon Yellow, Maize, Orange Red, Orange Yellow, Violet Blue, and Raw Umber.
While eight colors were retired in 1990, some of the retired shades were fairly similar to existing options. And four new colors were introduced: Wild Watermelon, Screamin’ Green, Outrageous Orange, and Royal Purple.
Notable Controversial & Retired Crayola Colors
Over the decades, a number of discontinued Crayola crayon colors have sparked controversy and conversation. Here are some of the most notable:
Introduced in 1898, Crayola’s Indian Red was discontinued in 1999 due to its misleading and stereotypical name that could be perceived as insensitive.
Originally known as Flesh Tint, this color from 1903 represented Caucasian skin tones. It was renamed to Peach in 1962 and discontinued completely in 1989 amid discussions about diversity and inclusion.
While the exact year is uncertain, Crayola apparently retired Prussian Blue in the early 1900s, likely for its traditional and stuffy artistic connotations.
This grayish-purple color introduced in 1992 was changed to Mauvelous a month later after complaints it was insensitive to endangered manatees.
Part of the 1998 Gel FX line, Brazil Nut was renamed Brown by 1999 due to concerns about its association with a racial slur.
Violet Blue, Lemon Yellow
Retired in 1990, these two colors were likely dropped for redundancy, as Violet and Yellow were still available.
Discontinued in 1990, this bluish green color was probably cut for its somewhat boring, plain name.
The 1990 Purge: 8 Colors Retired
In 1990, Crayola dramatically cut eight colors from its standard lineup of 200 colors across 70 specialty boxes. The retired colors included:
This crayon purge made room for four new crayons added in 1992: Wild Watermelon, Outrageous Orange, Screamin’ Green, and Royal Purple.
While retiring eight colors was a big change, some of the discontinued shades were already represented by other existing crayons. For example, Yellow and Violet remained even after Lemon Yellow and Violet Blue got the ax.
All Crayola Crayon Color Names Retired to Date
Here is a complete list of all the Crayola crayon color names that have been retired or discontinued to date:
|Light Chrome Green|
As we can see, Crayola has retired a variety of generic, controversial, and redundant color names over the past century or so. However, the discontinued colors live on in Crayola’s corporate history and people’s nostalgic memories.
While certain crayon colors may come and go, Crayola remains committed to inspiring artistic creativity and self-expression. The Crayola lineup continues evolving to represent inclusive, culturally appropriate shades that appeal to today’s youth.
The Return of Retired Colors
Though officially retired, Crayola has brought back a few of its discontinued colors over the years by popular demand. These shades were revived from retirement:
Crayola occasionally reintroduces retired crayons in special throwback assortments allowing fans to relive childhood nostalgia. Their names may not meet current standards, but the bygone colors remind us how far our society has progressed toward inclusion.
Will More Colors Be Retired in the Future?
It seems likely that Crayola will continue retiring select crayon colors in coming years and possibly decades.
As cultural values evolve over generations, more existing color names could potentially become controversial or insensitive. Crayola may preemptively retire additional colors to avoid public criticism down the road.
The company may also cut redundant or unpopular shades that underperform with young artists and coloring fans. While Crayola wants to maintain a diverse color range, it also aims to offer a practical lineup in its signature box sets.
However, with 120 current colors spanning every hue, Crayola crayon retirement will probably continue to be strategic and gradual. When colors get discontinued, they achieve a beloved nostalgic status.
Influence on Consumers
For the most part, Crayola fans understand when certain questionable color names get retired. While some consumers miss standbys like Indian Red and Raw Umber, many recognize that cultural change necessitates updating insensitive labels.
However, drastic cuts like the 1990 purge did initially meet some consumer resistance. Fans feared that their coloring options were narrowing too severely. But the introduction of new creative crayon shades along with the discontinued ones generally appeases the public.
When you’re as iconic as Crayola, change can be challenging. But periodic crayon retirement also keeps the brand feeling relevant, inclusive, and fresh. As society progresses, Crayola wants to progress with it.
Over its 100+ year history, Crayola has retired at least 30 crayon colors for various reasons. Questionable names, redundancy, and streamlining product lines have all led to colors getting the ax. Blue Gray, Lemon Yellow, Prussian Blue, and Raw Umber have all gotten discontinued at some point.
Retired Crayola crayons demonstrate how a major brand evolves along with consumers and cultural norms. But the bygone colors also provide nostalgia and contribute to Crayola’s rich history as an iconic part of childhood.
While favorite shades may come and go, Crayola remains committed to inspiring creativity and self-expression through color. By periodically refreshing its color lineup, Crayola can offer contemporary options that resonate with modern kids’ values and interests. At the same time, the retirements preserve consumers’ fond memories.
For over a century, Crayola crayons have colored kids’ worlds. And the brand promises to keep creating colorful memories for generations to come – even if a few legacy shades get left behind along the way.