‘Green.com’ and ‘megabyte blue:’ Cray­ola’s ‘90s trib­ute to the in­ter­net

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - ABBY OHLHEISER

For a brief, glo­ri­ous pe­riod of the late 1990s, Cray­ola’s yel­low crayon had an al­ter ego: “world wide web yel­low.” Pur­ple was “www.pur­ple” and screamin’ green was “green.com.”

The 16 crayons of the “Tech­noBrite” col­lec­tion lasted for just a cou­ple of years. But two decades later, they’ve be­come a vi­ral snap­shot of what the in­ter­net was like in 1997 — and just how much it’s changed.

Erika Merklinger, a spokesper­son for Cray­ola, con­firmed to us that th­ese crayons — from “plug & play pink” to “megabyte blue” were all very real. There was also an eight-piece marker set that went along with it.

The tech-themed colours weren’t ac­tu­ally new colours. They were just re­pur­posed shades from some of Cray­ola’s ex­ist­ing col­lec­tions (par­tic­u­larly neon), and were prob­a­bly named by an in­ter­nal team at the time, Merklinger said. There wasn’t a pro­mo­tion as­so­ci­ated with the in­ter­net crayons, and Cray­ola couldn’t re­ally find us much more in­for­ma­tion about the col­lec­tion.

Look­ing back on it, 1997 was kind of a weird time for the lan­guage we use for talk­ing about the in­ter­net. It’s the same year that the amaz­ing “Kids’ Guide to the in­ter­net” came out, a 30-minute video that has since be­come a Mother Meme for a bunch of jokes about how dumb we were in the ‘90s. It’s the sort of video in which, plau­si­bly, you can have a child say, “What’s a web page, some­thing ducks walk on?”

The chil­dren dis­cuss us­ing your “in­ter­net disc” to in­stall the in­ter­net on your home com­puter. They joke about “surf­ing” the Web. Please watch long enough to hear the video’s jin­gle at least once.

Just a year later, while th­ese crayons were still avail­able in stores, Korn — yes, KORN, the band — would be one of the most cut­tingedge things on the whole in­ter­net.

Any­way. You may have seen th­ese 1997 crayons be­fore, be­cause they seem to have a way of go­ing vi­ral ev­ery cou­ple of years, as “hi­lar­i­ously dated” re­minders of how we used to talk about the in­ter­net.

With Cray­ola hav­ing lit­tle to say on the birth of th­ese per­pet­u­ally vi­ral crayons, the most in­for­ma­tion we could find on­line about them comes from part 27 of Cray­on­col­lect­ing.com’s 43-part his­tory of Cray­ola’s colours, which notes that the col­lec­tion sold well enough at the time to be reprinted. The site is also the source of the orig­i­nal im­age that went vi­ral in the first place.

Un­for­tu­nately for me and the 10 other peo­ple who would read a story about it, we may never learn very much about ex­actly why th­ese crayon names were cho­sen. Even Cray­on­col­lect­ing.com doesn’t have a ton to say about th­ese crayons, in part be­cause 1997 was ap­par­ently a very busy year for Cray­ola colour changes, so there was a lot to cover.

In con­clu­sion: yes, in 1997 we were huge dorks about the in­ter­net. Look how far we’ve come since then.

COUR­TESY OF CRAY­OLA

The 16 crayons of the Techno-Brite col­lec­tion lasted for just a cou­ple of years.

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