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9 Random Things You Never Knew Had an Official Color

Read on for the signature shades of a weather pattern, a U.S. state, the cosmos, and more.


The universe

In 2001, Johns Hopkins University astronomers Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry averaged all the colors from the light of 200,000 galaxies and determined that our universe is a lovely mint green. The next year, however, the pair took another look at the colors and came up with a disappointing new hue: beige. (If you’re into outer space, read about the signals from deep space that scientists just picked up.)

2017Ritesh Chaudhary/Shutterstock

The year 2017

The experts at Pantone have spoken: Greenery has been named the official color of the year. The light green “evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew,” according to Pantone. Before 2018 rolls around, learn which New Year’s resolutions you should never make.

indigogot baby!/Shutterstock

South Carolina

South Carolina is the only state in the U.S. that chose a single color, indigo blue, as its official state color (most states go with a two- or three-color combo; Washington and Hawaii don’t have state colors). In 2008, a local third grader convinced her senator that the color should have a special designation because it represented the indigo crops that were important in the state’s industrial development. Learn cool trivia about your own state with these crazy facts you never knew about all 50 states.

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Cleveland County, Oklahoma prisoners

Forget orange jumpsuits. Since 2009, Cleveland County, Oklahoma, prisoners have been required to wear pink shirts with yellow-and-white striped pants. “We want our inmates to be identifiable. If one of them slips over the wall, we want to know about it right away,” Undersheriff Rhett Burnett told (Don’t miss this heartwarming story about a small-town cop who freed a prisoner—and why he came back.)



In the world of NEXRAD, the radar system used by weather prognosticators from The Weather Channel to Weather Underground, the official color of rain can range from bright green to ominous red, depending on the intensity of the downpour. If you’re in the red zone, memorize how to prepare your home for a hurricane.

law firmBCFC/Shutterstock

The law firm of Elizabeth R. Wellborn P.A.

OK, this Florida firm doesn’t really have an official color, but if they did it wouldn’t be orange. In 2012, employees developed a tradition of wearing orange shirts on Fridays. But executives weren’t happy with the unusual sartorial choice and on March 16, 14 workers were called into a conference room and fired. Maybe they should have paid attention to these secret signs you’re about to get fired.

swedenBildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

Falun, Sweden

Wander the streets of this small city in central Sweden and you’ll notice something peculiar: Almost all of the buildings are painted the same rusty red color. Since the mid-16th century, the paint has been made using the iron-rich waste products of the town’s copper mining industry. The color is so iconic that “falu red” is now used all over the world to paint barns and other buildings. (Learn more about the scientific reason barns are painted red.)

post itsiJeab/Shutterstock

Post-it notes

You probably already think of sticky notes as that iconic yellow, but you might not have realized 3M has a trademark on the shade. So any canary yellow stickies you see must be official Post-It brand. Use yours for these creative ways you never thought to use a sticky note.

governmentAndrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

The U.S. Government

You won’t find just any color coming from the American government. It has a lengthy list of 650 approved colors ranging from mailbox blue to OSHA orange to keep things consistent, using five-number codes similar to Pantone’s system to keep track of the all, according to the Washington Post. One color not on the list? The Statue of Liberty’s green, which isn’t the monument’s real color. Find out what color the Statue of Liberty really is.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.