After the nation had forgotten the cancer scares sparked by red dye number four and other colorings, red M&Ms returned to the pack of plain M&Ms. I remember thinking that it was the perfect new color; a bit brighter than the other colors without being obnoxious. Then in pre-internet days, the Mars company opened a phone hot line so people could vote for a new color to the pack in 1995. I was gunning for purple, but blue won. M&Ms were not Skittles; they did not need to be neon. To me, the new blue M&M stood out from the rest of the earth tones and fall colors to the point of clashing. Eventually, the tan M&M was eradicated from the regular pack, and I’m still a little sad about it.
It’s not that I actively dislike the color blue. I’ve always felt completely indifferent to the color, with one exception: my favorite Crayola crayon color has always Cerulean, a shade of blue that cars are painted on “The Price is Right.” I’ve recently learned that Crayola seems to have followed M&Ms’ lead; their 24 pack of crayons has four shades of blue and one brown. Sure, there are a lot of oranges, some decent purples, and reds and red violets, but none of them helped when I was coloring in a picture of Pioneer Square. My lack of brown options meant that I couldn’t duplicate the square’s redish-tan bricks. Normally, I’d have no problem coloring the bricks purple or something. But there was already a pink squid fighting a green Portlandia in the middle of the square, and I wanted a balance of absurdism with reality.
I bought the 24 pack on a whim a few months ago, and I’ve started coloring in books when I need to recenter and using crayons when I pretend like I can draw. I like the waxy feeling and look, and being able to control the intensity of the color. I bought a 64 pack, so I’d have a wider variety of earth tones. I recognized a few shades, like “Purple Mountain’s Majesty,” “Tickle Me Pink,” “Macaroni and Cheese,” and “Timberwolf” as winners of the naming contest Crayola had when I was in third grade. But then, the new shades only came in the Big Box of 96. But I was still more excited about the collection of tan, burnt sienna, raw sienna, etc. As I was working on a crudely drawn comic strip (that I may or may not post sometime), I found a color called “Cadet blue” that is the exact color of my eyes. I thought I was content with my crayon collection, until K10 got me a 150 pack that came in a plastic container and included glitter and metallic shades…I’m now officially slightly intimidated by my color options and may never have to use either of my built in sharpeners.