Discovered in a Lab, a New Superblue Has Been Unleashed Upon the World as a Crayola Crayon

The stunning pigment is set to become part of your child's next box set.

The YInMn blue crayon. Courtesy of Crayola.
The YInMn blue crayon. Courtesy of Crayola.

When chemist Mas Subramanian accidentally discovered the brilliantly bright YInMn blue at Oregon State University in 2009, he had no idea the bold shade would one day be embraced by doodling schoolchildren everywhere.  Now, the first new blue pigment discovered in 200 years is poised to become part of your kid’s next Crayola crayon box set.

“We are a company all about kids, creativity and color, so we strive to keep our color palette innovative and on-trend,” said Crayola CEO and president Smith Holland in a statement, demonstrating the beloved art supply company’s dedication to being on the cutting edge of pigment technology. OSU partnered with the crayon company after reaching an exclusive licensing agreement for the pigment with Shepherd Color Company in 2015, according to Hyperallergic.

The awkwardly named YInMn blue—it contains the elements Yttrium, Indium and Manganese—will make its debut as a Crayola crayon later this year, following a contest to chose a more mellifluous moniker for the color.

The newly-discovered YInMn blue is now commercially available from the Shepherd Color Company. Courtesy of Oregon State University.

The newly discovered YInMn blue is now commercially available from the Shepherd Color Company. Courtesy of Oregon State University.

YInMn blue will replace Dandelion, first introduced in 1990, among the company’s first publicized changes to its color lineup. The company recently sent the outgoing crayon on a much-hyped retirement tour.

For the first 90 years of its existence, Crayola chose the names of its colors through company color experts. That changed in 1992, when the company introduced its first 96-crayon Big Box, its largest crayon set yet, featuring 16 new unnamed colors. The winning names included Purple Mountains Majesty, Macaroni and Cheese, Robin’s Egg Blue, and Timber Wolf. YInMn blue is perhaps the most high-profile addition to the Crayola palette since.

Chemist Mas Subramanian. Courtesy of Oregon State University.

“Fans in North America have told us through previous polls and surveys that blue is their favorite color. Now, not only will they have a new blue color to fall in love with, but also the opportunity to be a part of Crayola history by naming it,” said Melanie Boulden, Crayola’s senior vice president of marketing at Crayola in a statement.

Presumably to weed out inappropriate joke submissions, Crayola will select five finalists among the suggested color names. Public voting to select the winner will being on July 1, and the winner will be announced in September.

The YInMn blue crayon. Courtesy of Crayola.

The YInMn blue crayon. Courtesy of Crayola.

The new crayon is being produced in partnership with Crayola, Oregon State University, and Shepherd Color Company, which has licensed the patent for commercially producing the new shade. It was announced at an on-campus event at Oregon State on May 5, featuring a panel discussion with leaders in color, creativity, and design on the intersection of science, art, and design and the importance of color in our everyday lives.

“It’s truly an honor that our YInMn Blue pigment has inspired one of the most beloved instruments for creativity—a Crayola crayon,” said Subramanian, Oregon State’s College of Science’s chair of material science at the event. “We could not imagine a better partner than Crayola, a brand synonymous with color and creativity, to help us share this discovery with the world.”


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