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Why are the Simpsons yellow?


As a designer, I work with color every day. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job actually. The over-organized, slightly-OCD part of me really (like REALLY) prefers things to be in rainbow order. We all know that colors can influence moods and project different qualities, especially as applied to brands, but the history of where colors actually come from and some of the admittedly obscure facts surrounding them are endlessly fascinating.

NPR recently explored this topic in a project called This Is Color, with some fascinating results.

For instance, did you know that:

  • RED – Bulls actually can’t see red. A bullfighters cape is only red to camouflage bloodstains. It’s the movement of the cape that ticks them off.
  • ORANGE – The Golden Gate Bridge (though named after a shade of yellow) is commonly seen as red, but is actually a specially formulated shade named International Orange.
  • YELLOW – The characters on the Simpsons were colored yellow so that when flipping through channels, they could be quickly recognized.
  • GREEN – In the 19th century, green dye used in popular wallpapers was often laced with arsenic, causing many mysterious illnesses – including one that may have done in Napoleon!
  • BLUE – The blue and green feathers of a peacock actually has no blue in it, but contains surface structures that bounce light in a way that appears blue to the eye.
  • INDIGO – Some animals with that can see in ultra-violet range can distinguish which bananas are ripe because they give off a bright indigo glow.
  • PURPLE – In ancient Rome, purple dye was made by boiling thousands of snails. By the mid-1800’s the first synthetic purple dye was created in a quinine lab during an attempt to formulate a cure for malaria.

The more you know!