A spokesman for Binney & Smith, maker of Crayola crayons, denies that the company has run out of ideas.
But he admitted that the Easton, Pa., company had failed to develop names for 16 new crayons and is asking for help.
"No one is losing a job because of this," said Brad Drexler, a spokesman for Binney & Smith. "The job is usually done by individuals from our art department and our research and development department . . .
"There's a very scientific way for naming a new crayon."
Not this time.
Binney & Smith is asking boys and girls, men and women, artists and scientists from across the world to name these 16 new brilliantly colored crayons.
The prize is eternal, or as long as kids enjoy the newly named Crayola crayon.
Once chosen, new names will appear on an estimated 20 million crayons annually, ensuring the name's author a place in crayon history.
In addition, contest winners' personal names will appear on crayons for about one year, and their likenesses will be enshrined in the Crayola Hall of Fame in Easton.
Participants need to impress experts at Binney & Smith, who, since 1903, have come up with names such as periwinkle, bitter sweet and cerulean around their famous wax sticks.
"This is definitely the biggest draw in Crayola history," Mr. Drexler said. "For the first time in company history we're giving people the chance to name a Crayola crayon to leave a brilliant legacy to the children of the world."
The new crayons have been placed in Crayola's 96 "Big Box," which is being introduced in stores this week.
It's the first Crayola crayon box expansion in 35 years, Mr. Drexler said.
The competition will be backed by a national print and television advertising campaign beginning this spring. Cost of the campaign was not disclosed.
Binney & Smith will provide a trip to Universal Studios in Hollywood to the winners for Crayola's 90th birthday party.
Entry instructions are on the new "Big Box."
But Mr. Drexler said that name suggestions and one-sentence descriptions of why the color names are appropriate should be sent to: Crayola New Color Contest, P.O. Box 342, Conshohocken, Pa., 19428, by Aug. 31.
Although Crayola has added 16 new, unnamed colors, there is no plan to bring back any of the eight shades, including maize, raw umber or green blue, which were retired amid controversy in 1990, Mr. Drexler said.
"Part of our reason for introducing new colors came from consumer suggestions," Mr. Drexler said. "More than 50 percent said they wanted us to expand and add new colors.
"The adults wanted the old colors back, not the kids. The kids wanted new ones.
"In the days of colorful characters [such as] the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bart Simpson and Barney the Dinosaur, kids want more and more colors."
Binney & Smith, whose annual sales increased 15 percent to $300 million in 1992, now produces 112 crayon colors.
There were 48 Crayola crayon colors until 1957, 64 colors until 1971, 72 colors until 1989 and 96 colors until 1992.
"The reason we came out with 16 is that our equipment is geared to pack crayons in multiples of eight," Mr. Drexler said. "Consumer research told us that a box of 96 crayons will be successful."
Even if not all have names.