clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Crayola color wheel has 19 different kinds of blue

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

This chart from Data Pointed shows that, since 1903, Crayola has come up with more and more shades of blue — and the number of colors in the company's box of crayons doubles every 28 years:


When crayons were imported to Japan in 1917, schoolchildren began to more clearly distinguish green from blue than in the past. But Crayola has since become an expert on distinguishing blue from other shades of blue, coming up with at least 19 different variations on the color in its standard boxes since 1903:

  1. blue
  2. blue green
  3. blue violet
  4. cornflower
  5. Prussian blue (later renamed "midnight blue")
  6. cadet blue
  7. aquamarine
  8. navy blue
  9. sky blue
  10. ultra blue
  11. blizzard blue
  12. cerulean
  13. teal blue
  14. Pacific blue
  15. robin's egg blue
  16. denim
  17. blue bell
  18. outer space
  19. wild blue yonder

Color names have occasionally changed, and colors are periodically retired. "Indian Red" became "chestnut" in the 1990s, and "flesh" became "peach" in 1962.

If anything, the chart understates how many slight variations on everyday colors Crayola has come up with. An exhaustive collectors' website (there are at least two crayon collectors, one of whom has more than 50,000 individual crayons and created the website) lists every color Crayola has ever used. It also includes a 41-part history of the company's color choices. In all, the company has manufactured 331 different colors under 755 names — many for special edition boxes of crayons.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.