by Alex Tabarrok
on January 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm
in Data Source
Crayola's Law: The number of colors doubles every 28 years.
Hat tip: Boing Boing.
The taste remains the same, however.
1. Someone learned how to differentiate a box of crayons.
2. Increasing disposable income leads to larger package sizes.
3. There is no limit on the willingness to pay for the imaginative wealthy 3 year old–at least in the mother’s eyes. I can always explore the envelope of the largest size if someone is willing to pay for it.
4. Does this include or exclude glow in the dark crayons?
They eliminated Indian Red. Kids thought it was for coloring the faces of Indians.
John and Ken (KFI) real audio discussion, March 11, 1999.
There’s been scientific tests which show that kids who use the larger package of crayons with more colors develop greater ability to distinguish between subtler variations in color than those who use a less varied crayon pack. So it’s not just a vanity issue, but has real effects on child development. A child’s brain grows in accord to the stimuli presented to it, and if they get more varied stimuli, the brain actually learns more.
Cool! I really wanted to be able to hover over a color and have it tell me the name of that crayon! And it would be nice to see a counter at the bottom of each year column indicating the number of crayons represented.
I recall that every year or so we would get a new box of 64 crayons. I would kept the old worn down but still usable crayons in the old boxes and see how much the cost increased over the years – at least until they stopped putting price stickers on everything!
As a crayon historian, I happen to knwo that in reality, Crayola started with 38 colors, not 8. They didn’t actually double every 28 years either. By 1910 the amount of colors had dropped. It did steadily increase leading up to WWII but dramatically dropped again down to only 24 due to sourcing issues (similar to the metal shortages among other things). That was more than half their color line before the war! I’d say in later years; particularly in the 1990s and early 2000s they doubled much faster than that.
Crayola’s data on their web site is simply a generalization of a much, much more complex color hisory. They provide it as a guide and what starts as a guide slowly becomes fact as it is passed from one writer to the next.
I know this because I have all their crayons and boxes going back to 1903 and have pieced together the real history of this segment of our society for the last 10 years now. You have to give Crayola their due, they’re as relevant today and they were back in 1903 and people are fascinated with their colors.
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