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The Daily Tar Heel
Pit Talk

Battle of the blues: which shade is the true "Carolina Blue"?


Ask any UNC Chapel Hill student what “Carolina Blue” is and you will most likely get a response related to “the sky”, “God’s favorite color” or "the better blue."

But as I sort through the incredible assortment of sweaters, hats, shorts and free T-shirts that will adorn my body in school pride tonight, I can’t help but notice that almost all of them are varying shades of “Carolina” Blue.

And the color clashing is driving me crazy.

In an effort to better understand this elusive hue, I did some research (and also read this article).

Here’s what I found:

Use of our distinctive light blue color dates back to the 1800s when the Dialectic and Philanthropic Literary Societies of the University chose light blue and white colors, respectively, to signify membership. When the University fielded its first intercollegiate athletic teams in 1888, there was no question of which colors to use — blue and white were coupled to become the official school colors.

But things haven't always been so clear cut.

With the dawn of color television in the 1960s, UNC intensified their powder blue basketball uniforms over concerns that they were showing up gray on screen.

*Cue mass confusion over whether Michael Jordan was really wearing aqua the whole time*

Source: Photobucket

“Carolina Blue” continued to have an identity crisis for several decades until designer Alexander Julian returned the school to the “real Carolina blue” in his 1990 overhaul of the basketball uniforms.

Following a massive rebranding effort with Nike in 2015, all 28 UNC varsity athletic teams are now unified under the officially trademarked “Carolina Blue” (also known as Pantone 542).

Remnants of the chaos, however, can still be found in sportswear stores on Franklin Street, across the country, and in my obnoxiously messy t-shirt drawer, with blue hues ranging from Pantone 278 - 543.

But question remains: what is the “real Carolina Blue”? The answer, it turns out, varies as much as the sky on a cloudless day (which, surprisingly, is a lot). Each shade, though, is worn with passion and pride for the one school it represents.

Source: Flickr

So, throw on whatever hue you’ve got (as long as it’s not that blue) and get ready to scream “HOW BOUT THEM HEELS” all night long.

*Breaks tree*

Bonus: Can you guess which shade is "Carolina Blue" (as of 2015)? 

Source: Pantone

(The answer is A.)

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