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10 Intriguing Facts Related to Colors

6. There is a reason why fast-food chains use a combination of red and yellow colors in their branding, advertising, and restaurant décor. They figured out years ago that these colors tend to make us hungry and impulsive. Experts termed this psychological trick the “Ketchup and Mustard Theory.”

Ketchup and Mustard Theory
Ketchup and Mustard Theory. Image credits: 8th.creator/Shutterstock.com

Some scientists studying the psychology of colors explain that colors get communicated to the brain faster than any other type of communication. Studies that back this claim illustrate how colors affect our feelings and emotions.

It is concluded by the research conducted under color psychology that the color yellow is associated with feelings of content, happiness, comfort, and competence. Likewise, red is believed to be related to desire, power, and love.

According to the Ketchup and Mustard Theory, the combination of these two specific colors influence us on a subconscious level to want to eat. They also represent warmth, comfort, and satisfaction that we might experience while eating with friends.

The Ketchup and Mustard Theory is still criticized by a certain group of researchers who claim that there isn’t enough scientific data to support it. Even if the theory might be disputed, there is no doubt that red and yellow color combinations have been adopted by fast-food chains.

(1, 2)

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7. The world’s ugliest color is Pantone 448 C, or a dark, drab brown. Most of the European countries now use it on tobacco products to dissuade people from smoking. The original initiative belongs to the Australian government who appointed their researchers to find the ugliest color and use it on tobacco products.

Pantone 448 C
Image credits: علاء/Wikimedia, Department of Health/BBC.com

A group of academics and market researchers worked for three months to discover the ugliest color,  also known as “opaque couché.” It was the marketing agency, GfK Bluemoon, hired by the Australian government that headed the project.

In 2012, they conducted a total of seven extensive studies with more than 1,000 smokers and asked them to design the least-appealing packaging possible. The researchers concluded that the ugliest color represents tar, dust, and even death and has no positive adjectives associated with it.

First started in Australia, the technique was eventually adopted by the UK, Ireland, and France to reduce the tobacco demands. Most of these countries have mandated the use of plain packing and the Pantone 448 C color on tobacco-products packaging.

Striking results were noticed in Australia after they implemented this strategy. The country saw a 55% decrease in cigarette sales among smokers aged 14 and older. (1, 2)

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8. Blue was considered a low-class color by Romans that was only worn by those lower on the social ladder. Historians even concluded that the word “blue” didn’t even exist in Greek times. The fate of the color changed in 431 CE when Virgin Mary was given a blue robe.

Our lady of grace virgin Mary
Our lady of grace virgin Mary.

When going through the ancient Greek texts, it was clearly noticeable to the historians that there was not a single reference to “blue.” The texts mentioned black and white thousands of times and red and yellow only a few times.

It appears that humans began to see blue as a color only after making blue pigments. It first emerged some 6,000 years ago when we began to develop blue colorants. Since there is not much blue in nature readily available, we used to mix lapis, a semiprecious stone, with other minerals like calcium and limestone.

Eventually, the idea of the new color spread to other parts of the world in the lands of the Persians, Mesopotamians, and Romans.

The color became regular to the everyday man because of the Catholic Church’s move in 431 CE. The color of the robe that the Virgin Mary was given came to be known as “navy blue.” As Mary wore the color, it stood for innocence and trustworthiness, therefore it was adopted by the military and police. (1, 2)

9. The color pink has been considered to suppress anger and anxiety and produce an overall calming effect. It is, in fact, used in mental-healthcare institutions and prisons to create that sense of calm. It is said that it is a tranquilizing color that saps your energy, and even colorblind people have been observed to become tranquil in pink-colored rooms.

Pink color
Image credits: Krzysztof Stefaniak/Shutterstock.com

The “Baker-Miller pink” or the “drunk tank pink” is the color that has been researched and observed to calm violent prisoners in jails. Dr. Alexander Schauss was the first to claim that pink reportedly suppresses anger, antagonism, and anxious behavior in prisoners. He went so far as to say that even if a person tries to be aggressive in the presence of pink, he can’t.

However, the calming effect is only temporary, and once the body of the prisoner returns to the point of equilibrium, he may show the opposite behavior to even a severe stage. Contradicting studies that don’t support the calming effect suggest that the effect seldom lasts longer than 15 to 30 minutes.

Based on the apparent relaxing effects of the color pink, locker rooms of oppositions were painted pink so that the players would become passive. A coach from Hawaii objected to this in 1991, and since then, Western Athletic Conference has had a rule that lockers of the visiting team and home team should be of the same color. (Source)

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10. Research shows that our taste buds are influenced by the colors our eyes perceive, or in other words, colors affect the way we taste food. Scientists have discovered objectively that hot chocolate tastes much better in an orange or cream-colored cup compared to any other color.  

Hot chocolate
Hot chocolate

The study regarding the relation between colors and how they affect the way we taste food was conducted by scientists at the University of Valencia and Oxford University. A total of 57 subjects were asked to taste the same hot chocolate in white-, cream-, red-, and orange-colored cups.

The results were clear that subjects found chocolate served in orange and cream cups tasted better than the other two colors. Some of them mentioned that the taste in cream cups was sweeter and more aromatic than others.

Similarly, researchers say that spicy foods would definitely be perceived hotter when served on a red plate. But there are no rules as such to tell what color enhances what food. The effect varies depending on the food, but it surely exists. (Source)

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