Factoids Part 3
More amazing facts about color. You'll find unusual snippets of information from the world of nature, vision, psychology, science, business, brands, and the food we eat.
The colors of the Olympic logo
Blue blooded bugs
A spider's blood turns blue when exposed to oxygen.
The Famous Fireballs Mystery
Picture this: Hundreds of red, pink and orange fireballs soar up into the sky from the he Mekong River in northern Thailand. This occurs every year on the first full moon night of October, which coincides with the end of Buddhist Lent
A color that made history
In the ancient world of the Aztecs, red dye was considered more valuable than gold. The bright red colorant required the labor of hundreds of subjects combing the desert in search of its source - the female cochineal beetle. A pound of water-soluble extract required about a million insects. (By comparison, back in the days of the Roman Empire, a pound of royal purple dye required four million mollusks.)
After the arrival of Cortez in the 1500s, the Spaniards traded the dried remains of this insect as a colorant that dyed items a brilliant crimson. Cochineal red was a stronger dye than ever before - and a color that no one could duplicate. Europeans used it for fabrics and illumination in addition to cooking. In the years that followed, Michelangelo used it in paintings, the British for redcoats and the Canadians for their Mounted Police coats. It is thought that the first U.S. flag made by Betsy Ross had cochineal red stripes. Today, less expensive aniline dyes have replaced it, but it is used as a food coloring and is approved by the FDA as a natural colorant for food, drug and cosmetics. In fact, some brands of fruit juice use this red bug juice as a colorant.
The story of Cochineal red is even more fascinating. Europeans were never told of its insect origin. In reality, the insect looked so much like a seed, that the Spaniards traded it as grain. For almost 300 years, they perpetuated the notion that ?dyed in the grain? was their special process for this permanent dye that never faded. And that's the source of the English term "ingrained."
The color of the Universe (much blander than before)
Beyond green ketchup: Heavenly blue potatoes
However, they were wrong about french fries. They failed and were pulled from the shelves.
"Kids already like the plain french fries," said Marilyn Raymond, director with New ProductWorks, a Michigan-based product marketing consultancy. "Why try to make them more friendly to kids?"
In the meantime, sales of Heinz's other crazy colors -- the green, purple, and pink ketchup -- hit the bull's eye for the company.