We are surrounded by so much color in every facet of life that it’s often taken for granted until something makes us think of it more intricately.
We may know that blue and red make purple and that orange is a color and a fruit, but the lesser-known facts about color are often elusive.
From the intriguing history of certain hues, to the scientific effects of specific shades on your psyche, below are some of the most incredible and fascinating facts about Earth’s color spectrum.
1. Color Can Skew Taste
Researchers have discovered that the same beverage–or food–can exhibit a different taste depending on the color of the dish or cup in which it’s served.
In one experiment, participants indulged in hot chocolate from orange, cream, red, and white mugs. The orange and cream-colored mugs won in a landslide, with most participants claiming the chocolate tasted better.
2. The Color of Eigengrau
If you’ve ever taken the time to think about it, you’ve probably discovered that when you close your eyes, you do not immediately see pitch black.
It is also the case when you turn artificial lights off in a room. The human eye must transition from light to complete darkness, and the “gray area” you see at such times has a name: eigengrau.
3. Memory Works Better in Color
Whether reading, watching a video, or viewing a PowerPoint presentation, you will remember more of the information if it’s in color.
Researchers conducted one study where participants viewed four dozen images, half black-and-white and half of which were in color.
It took more work for the participants to remember facts from the black-and-white presentations.
4. Yellow and Red Boost the Appetite
Yellow and red stimulate the human appetite, particularly when combined as a color pattern.
Some researchers call this the “ketchup and mustard effect,” many people believe this is why so many restaurants use this combination for their store designs and logos.
Just think of Denny’s, Wendy’s, and McDonald’s, to name a few!
5. Which Came First, the Fruit or the Color
Like most people, you probably think that the famous citrus fruit and the popular juice made from it was dubbed “orange” because of its color.
The color orange had no distinct name until the late 1400s. It was often referred to as reddish-yellow or dark yellow.
It wasn’t until oranges were brought from Asia to Europe that people began to use the term as a color synonym.
6. There’s Such a Thing as Color Phobia
We all know about irrational fears, such as claustrophobia or fear of heights, but few people know there’s such a thing as chromophobia.
As its name implies, chromophobia is a fear of color, and the disorder can also branch into the fear of specific colors, such as porphyrophobia, which is the fear of purple.
Just like any other phobia, chromophobia can lead to irregular heartbeat, as well as panic attacks, and general anxiety.
7. Red Makes Women More Attractive
A common favorite color among men is blue, but they are more attracted to red overall.
Research completed at the University of Rochester discovered that men were more attracted to women wearing red clothing or lipstick than those wearing other hues.
In one part of the study, men were shown photographs of women wearing different colors. Those who donned red in the pictures were consistently rated more attractive.
8. Why Mars is Red
We all know that Mars is depicted as red in pictures, but the reason for this is quite interesting.
This is because the planet’s surface is covered in iron oxide, the same substance that makes human blood red. Maybe this is why Mars was named after the Roman War God!
9. Even Chickens React to Color
Almost everyone has a favorite color, but most people are surprised that chickens may also have one.
Chickens are very sensitive to various colors, and farmers often use red-tinted lights to reduce feather picking and cannibalism.
Interestingly, unlike humans, chickens don’t get excited or energized by red but rather find it calming.
10. A Fun Fact About Pink and Blue
Before the 20th century, pink was considered the color for boys, while blue indicated that the baby was a girl.
This is believed to be the case because pink is essentially light red, and red was regarded as the strongest, most aggressive color in the spectrum. The use of these shades was not reversed until the 1940s.
11. On a Quest for Calm? Think Pink
Studies conducted at the American Institute for Biosocial Research found that pink can effectively suppress anxiety and anger.
It’s not known why this tranquilizing effect occurs, but it’s linked to the decrease in energy that results from viewing this shade in abundance.
In the study mentioned above, even people deliberately trying to act aggressively or maintain anger could not do so in the presence of pink.
12. Seeing Red
Red is the first hue a baby sees when his or her color receptors develop. Recent studies indicate that even babies under two weeks old can distinguish the color red.
Scientists think this has to do with red having the longest wavelength, thus making it the easiest color to process.
13. Why Night Vision Goggles Are Green
If you’re familiar with night vision goggles, it may have crossed your mind to wonder why they’re typically green.
Although any color could technically be used to manufacture these goggles, they’re made with green phosphor because more shades of green can be detected by the human eye than any other color.
14. Bulls Don’t Hate Red
You’ve probably heard the phrase “seeing red” as a way for people to indicate that they’re angry. Contrary to popular folklore, however, this saying does not apply to bulls.
These animals don’t actually charge at the matador’s muleta because it’s red. Rather, they’ll charge at any movement. Bulls have no color preference at all.
15. The Upside of Being Colorblind
Many people complain about having poor night vision, but did you know that many people who are colorblind tend to see very well at night?
In fact, the US Army sometimes uses colorblind soldiers to detect camouflage attire at night due to this odd phenomenon.
16. Why Yellow Highlighters are the Best Choice
Although highlighters come in many colors, yellow is a worldwide favorite, and there is a reason for this.
When photocopies are made, anything highlighted in yellow is still legible and easy to read, while words and phrases highlighted in alternate colors often fade to an unreadable gray.
17. Men and Women See Red Differently
Although you may think that color is absolute, the color red is seen differently by men and women. Because females have two X chromosomes and males only have one, men see fewer shades of red than women.
This was confirmed in a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, during which women perceived a broader range of colors overall and more shades of red in particular.
18. Redheads May Need Extra Anesthesia
Studies have shown that redheads are more susceptible to pain and sometimes need up to 20 percent more anesthesia than blondes or brunettes.
Red hair is associated with the MC1R gene, which is believed to be responsible for this differential in pain perception.
19. The Sun is White, Not Yellow
Yellow has long been associated with the sun, but according to the Te Awamutu Space Center, the sun is actually white.
Multiple factors in the Earth’s atmosphere make the sun appear as if it is yellow–or sometimes even orange or red!
20. Green Coffee Beans and Blood
A 1980s study conducted in New York City discovered one interesting, obscure fact about color.
It was determined that B antigens in blood could be removed by an enzyme found in green coffee beans, thus transforming any blood type into the universal donor, type O.
21. Some Women Have Four Color Cones
An odd mutation specific to the female gender may allow certain women to perceive up to 100 million colors instead of the approximate one million that most people can see.
Such women are referred to as tetrachromats, and the genetic mutation results in the development of four color cones rather than the typical three most humans have.
22. The Hubble Telescope’s Hidden Talent
The Hubble telescope is often used to create full-color images from black-and-white pictures.
The photograph is taken with a blue filter in front of the lens, but then the process is repeated with a red filter and a green filter.
The result is a full-color picture from a black-and-white camera!
23. The Colorful, Color-Blind Squid
Similar to a chameleon, squids can quickly change their color, and they can activate this particular mechanism whenever they feel the need to camouflage themselves.
The exact way they do it has never been specifically determined, but what makes this color fact remarkable is that squids themselves are colorblind!
24. An Amazing Blood-Red Waterfall
Facts about color in nature are perhaps the most fascinating. From a water source devoid of oxygen and sunlight, a waterfall flows continuously out of a glacier in Antarctica.
Aptly named “Blood Falls,” the water from this source is extremely rich in sodium and iron; therefore, when exposed to air, it takes on an unforgettable rusty-red appearance.
25. Memory and Color
Although this may seem odd, the memory of color is typically inaccurate over distance and time.
According to research, we may remember the color of something we saw within a few hours.
However, the next day, or the next week, the memory of the specific color becomes affected by many variables and ends up needing to be more accurate.
26. Our Interesting Perspective of Pink and Green
Colors are often associated with feelings, and in two separate studies, pink and green backgrounds seemed to enhance the recognition of happy faces while impairing the recognition of sad faces.
Gray was used as the control color; none of these changes were noted in the control group. The result of the study was a definitive link of positivity to the colors green and pink.
27. The Link Between Color and Odor
Although it may seem like they have nothing to do with each other at first, there is a distinct, scientific link between color and odor.
In one study, red and pink shades were specifically associated with fruity fragrances, while oranges and browns brought musty odors to mind.
28. Depth Perception and Color
Another interesting fact about color is that we perceive cool colors as being further away, while the illusion that warm colors are closer is very common.
This is also true regarding dark and light colors, with darker hues perceived as being further away and lighter ones perceived as closer.
29. Do Mosquitoes Have a Favorite Color?
It’s no secret that blue is a favorite color worldwide, but most people would not think of an insect as being partial to a particular hue.
However, studies have shown that the irksome mosquito is attracted to dark shades, particularly blue.
This may motivate outdoor lovers to stick with lighter-colored attire when mosquito activity is high!
30. There’s Safety in Color
A little-known phenomenon uncovered by research is that white automobiles are the least likely to crash.
Accident research conducted at Monash University indicates that black cars are the most vulnerable when it comes to fatal accidents, while white cars are the safest.
31. The Fascinating History of Paint
We imagine history’s famous artists as having every shade in the color spectrum at their fingertips, but this was not always true.
Before the 19th century, color pigments used in paints were naturally derived, which made them very costly, and often limited artists’ options.
Color palettes were considerably expanded with commercially manufactured paint.
32. A Color You Can’t See
A color you can’t see may sound like an oxymoron, but there is indeed a color so dark that it appears like a black hole when used to paint a circle on the floor.
For this reason, the newly invented Vantablack has been nicknamed “The color you can’t see.”
33. Without Photons, There’s No Color
Color is not something that’s just “there,” but rather is a thing that must be perceived. Without something called photons, we would not be able to see it at all.
This is because photons bounce off objects, creating all the shades we view, including black-and-white!
34. Color Me Impossible
Some artists describe certain colors as “impossibly beautiful,” but did you know that some hues are impossible to see?
Forbidden and Chimerical Colors are simply impossible for the human eye to process and, therefore, cannot be seen at all.
35. Why Color is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Noun
Most people think of color as a single category featuring numerous shades. However, color is actually broken down into primary, secondary, and tertiary shades.
These categories make it easy to understand different kinds of colors and how they relate to each other.
36. The Phenomenon of Chromesthesia
Chromesthesia is a type of synesthesia where the affected individual cannot separate color from sound.
It is an involuntary reaction during which color is “heard” and seen.
It is technically considered a disorder stemming from contact being made between two parts of the brain that typically can’t communicate with each other.
37. The Role of Wavelengths
Another fascinating fact about color is that the shade we see depends on the light’s wavelength size.
Shorter wavelengths of visible light tend to be on the violet end of the spectrum, otherwise seen as purple.
As they get longer, the visible light hues change to blue, green, yellow, orange, and finally, the longest, which is red.
38. Strong Colors, Weak Colors
Most people wouldn’t think of colors as having strengths, but a University of Illinois study found that gray, white, and yellow are often associated with weakness, while the human mind links black and red to strength.
The reason for this is unknown, but many theories are being considered.
39. An Interesting Color-Gender Study
Research conducted across six countries concerning shopping habits yielded very interesting results.
In most product categories, clear evidence was obtained that females find color very important when shopping for hats, backpacks, shoes, other attire, and house paint.
Color was more important for men in products such as gaming systems, electronics, and food.
40. A Different Perception of Time
You might wonder how color can be related to time, but that is just what this scientific study uncovered.
Participants were exposed to both a red and a blue background screen while waiting on a computer download.
Those exposed to the blue screen perceived the download faster than participants given the red background screen.
41. Intriguing Insight Into Color and Flavor
In this interesting, five-color taste study, evidence showed that blue and white are the colors most often associated with salty flavors.
At the same time, purple and black coincided more with bitter tastes.
Sour flavors were distinctly relegated to green and yellow, and pink and red were linked to sweet tastes.
42. The Color of Depression
Color Psychology is a relatively new study on how colors impact our mental state.
In a study of 233 respondents, those with depressive tendencies chose dark gray when completing self-portraits.
Those without a tendency toward depression typically chose gray only occasionally, thus correlating this shade with the disorder.
43. The Invention of the Color Wheel
Many people are familiar with the color wheel, but not everyone knows that it was invented by Sir Isaac Newton.
Not an easy invention, it was a long and difficult process, which involved fleshing out the relationship between primary, secondary, and tertiary colors and understanding how the various shades worked together.
44. Famous for its Color, But Is It That Color?
Everyone knows the famous golden orange cheddar cheese tint, but you might not know that it’s only orange because it’s dyed.
In reality, no cheese is naturally orange or gold; those shades always indicate artificial color.
The color additive isn’t harmful, and it does make the cheese look appetizing!
45. Full Color From Four Colors
Flyers, brochures, sales ads, and marketing material is almost always done in full color.
Interestingly, however, it only takes four specific colors to make essentially any color in existence, other than a few ultra-unique shades.
Black, cyan–which is a shade of blue–magenta and yellow are used to create full-color material of all kinds.
46. Green Improves Concentration
Research has proven that the color green improves efficiency and focus, making it a great choice for anyone who wants to boost his or her concentration.
As an added bonus, low-wavelength colors like green are also associated with a calm, restful state of mind.
47. Carrots Weren’t Always Orange
Carrots have a bright orange hue, similar to the fruit of the same name. However, at one time, carrots were white.
Thanks to the selective breeding of this vegetable throughout the centuries, carrots made their way from white to yellow and finally to orange.
48. Those Mysterious Colorful Dots
If you’ve ever noticed a small line or square of colored dots on food packages or on aluminum soda cans near the product’s nutrition information, it’s not an accident, it’s for quality control purposes.
These colors are codes for various manufacturing processes. If one of the dots is absent or faded, the problem can be traced to a specific part of the assembly line, eliminating the need to shut down all the machines for evaluation.
49. Color Coded Fire Hydrants
You probably wouldn’t think of a fire hydrant as anything other than red, but if you look closely, you’ll see some of these objects feature other colors, such as white, blue, or orange, near the hydrant’s top nozzle.
It’s an innovative way to tell firefighters what type of water flow to expect from the various hydrants!
50. Color’s Role in Marketing
Much research has gone into figuring out whether a product’s color can influence a shopper’s buying decision.
Studies have indicated that colors influence up to 80 percent of purchasing decisions, which is why many retailers and shops choose their colors carefully!
Red, blue, and green are the top three color “influencers” used by retail establishments.
To learn more about coloring or even color your very own pages, be sure to see our posts on the benefits of coloring, our list of 10,000 coloring pages for kids, or even enter our monthly coloring contest!