Colors

A display of new crayon colors, from the Miss. Fits Facebook site, passed along by Ruth Lawrence:

Think of it as a complex exercise in sociocultural knowledge. My favorites are yellow and purple, for their grotesque specificity, but the more cerebral among you might favor gray or black.

Then there’s the Eagle Shirtmakers contest of 1961 for naming shirt colors.

From a (clunky) description of the book about the campaign, Dear Miss Afflerbach: Or, The Postman Hardly Ever Rings 11,342 Times by Miller Harris & Howard Gossage (1962):

… this is a selection from just that quantity of answers to an advertisement run by Eagle Shirtmakers in the March 11, 1961, issue of The New Yorker. The ad offered a give-away, asked for suggestion for its use and a name for it, with a prize of Eagle shirts for the winner. These are the liveliest replies from all over the United States, and abroad, from people in all fields, adults and children, men and women …

Many people remember the contest with great affection; certainly, I do. A few samples, ranging over several sorts of word play, mostly imperfect puns of different types (but some perfect puns, and some other forms of play):

Gar Beige, Noblesso Beige, Chat Aqua, Civil War Buff, And-to-hell-with Burgundy, Roe Cocoa, Profits Ecru, Goodclean Fawn, Unforeseeable Fuchsia, Hardhearted Henna, Strip Ochre, Political Plum, Mason-Dixon Lime, Cost-of-Living Rose, Hell Sapphire, Bipartisan Slate, Down Umber, Stick-em-up Copper, Lie-down Honey, Illanimous Puce [reversal of pusillanimous]

I’m not sure whether I should be giving a cheat sheet to these bits of play, since, again, you need a lot of sociocultural knowledge — in particular, knowledge of  lots of fixed expressions (clichés like unforeseeable future, idioms like strip poker, titles like Hardhearted Hannah) — to see what’s funny. I doubt that my 8-year-old grand-daughter would get more than a tiny number of the submissions to the contest.

In any case, my favorite in the Eagle Shirtmakers contest was then, and still is:

’Enry ’Iggins Just You White

After more than 50 years, I’m still filled with admiration.

 

4 Responses to “Colors”

  1. m Says:

    Hedontcutany mustard

  2. the ridger Says:

    Whats-all-this Tan.

    The White one is beautiful.

  3. bratschegirl Says:

    I think I’d have gone with “Boehner orange.”

  4. Weekly favorites (Jan 14-20) | Adventures in Freelance Translation Says:

    [...] Interview with Kostas Valeontis Don’t just practice–engage! The Origin of Language Grown-up color names Working in pajamas… Translation [...]

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