For some time, it was a well-kept secret that yellow pigment was developed from the urine of mango-leaf-fed cows.

Ah, the things you learn in a color theory class. Since beginning the course, I’ve learned so many strange, but useful things. Granted, cow urine facts are likely only useful in a select few circumstances.

Color is so omnipresent in our lives that it’s easy to overlook. When you’re forced to examine color in a more in-depth way, your perception totally changes. The other day in my psychology course, we were using M&M’s to illustrate a concept. When I opened the bag, I thought, “Oh my gosh, look at that blue!” Maybe it had just been a long time since I’ve had M&M’s, but I don’t remember being particularly impressed by the brilliancy of the colors. It is truly strange having a new perspective on something that was seemingly so familiar. 

I’ve also found a lot of practical uses for my new knowledge. For example, the other day I put together an outfit with red and green without looking like a Christmas ornament. Slight variations in color can vastly change what we associate said colors with. I’ve also used what I’ve learned in class for my marketing job. In my PR work for the campus-run coffee shop, I try to use a lot of red because, according to a theory in evolutionary psychology, red is supposed to induce hunger. The theory says that humans needed to be able to differentiate fruit from its surrounding shrubbery, so reds have become a signal of food. Because I want to advertise the food at my coffee shop, Coffee Grounds, I use red where I can. Even if it doesn't induce hunger in people, I still know that red is a color that evokes a certain sense of comfort and warmth—qualities that Coffee Grounds prides itself on.

Color Theory isn’t necessarily a course I anticipated taking as part of my art minor, but sometimes one accidentally stumbles onto a good thing—apparently like the individual who discovered that cows fed exclusively mango leaves have some really great, vibrantly pigmented urine.