Pick your favorite color on this Web site; blue rules

America loves the blues.

Not the musical variety, mind you. The color, in all its hues and shades.

That's what an ongoing cyber-census of the nation's color preferences so far has revealed. The makers of Crayola crayons have embarked on an online accounting of America's favorite colors, open to everyone to register their choice until the census ends Dec. 15.

Although all 120 current crayon colors are on the ballot, seven of the top 10 vote-getters so far are one or another tint of blue: cerulean, midnight, periwinkle, aquamarine, denim, cornflower and just plain blue, which ranks as No. 1 for adults, kids, females and males.

Although it's decidedly unscientific - not to mention a marketing tool the Binney & Smith company will use for commercial purposes - the ''Color Census'' has attracted the blessings of the government's Census Bureau.

Since it began Aug. 8, Crayola has offered daily updates on votes for each color, and breaks results down by such demographic factors as gender and age. Eventually, the Web site at http://www.crayola.com also will provide state-by-state results, much as the official U.S. population nose count does. Final color results will be announced Jan. 31, 2001.

Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt recently applauded the company's ''innovative effort to introduce America's children to the important sciences of statistics, demography and geography that are essential to the census.''

In all, crayons come in 23 reds, 20 greens, 19 blues, 16 purples, 14 oranges, 11 browns, eight yellows, two grays, two coppers, two blacks, white, gold and silver. About 100 million crayons have been manufactured in the Easton, Pa., company's 97-year history, and about 3 million will be produced this year.

Political and cultural sensitivities drove the company to rename three colors over the years. In 1958, Prussian blue was changed to midnight blue because teachers said students had no interest in Prussian history. In 1962, as the civil rights revolution got under way, the company changed flesh to peach. In 1999, it replaced indian red with chestnut.

The current color popularity poll is the second conducted by the company. In 1993, blue also reigned supreme, followed by red, violet, green, carnation pink and black.

This time, blue is also the favorite of several celebrities who share their color preferences on the company's Web site. Teen singer Britney Spears loves robin's-egg blue, GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush favors blue bell, and movie comic Mike Myers likes just plain blue.

Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore has not listed his preference, but race car driver Mario Andretti owns up to liking pink pig, while comedian Billy Crystal picked burnt sienna and golf great Tiger Woods selected wild strawberry.

(Contact Lisa Hoffman at HoffmanL(at)shns.com or http://www.shns.com.)


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