I'm a kid of the 1980s. I grew up wearing super-bright shirts, socks, shoes and accessories and I had my share of black-light posters that glowed in the dark. While my attire was bright, apparently I wasn't. I had no idea that the facility that made all my DayGlo dreams come true was located right in my back yard.
Based in Cleveland, the company we now know as DayGlo Color Corp. got its start in the 1930s when fluorescent pigments, a new class of pigments based on fluorescent dyes and polymeric materials, were developed by scientists at Switzer Brothers, Inc. These pigments absorb various light frequencies (visible and invisible to the human eye) and reemit them, producing intense visible colors that appear to glow, even in daylight.
Switzer Brothers, Inc., introduced novel processes that eliminated the limitations in light fastness and color strength of earlier fluorescent pigments, resulting in new applications in advertising, packaging, flaw detection and safety.
Why the sudden a-ha moment on my part? The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently named DayGlo a National Historic Chemical Landmark.
According to the ACS website, chemistry came of age as a science in the late 1700s—the same time America came of age as a nation. Since that time, chemists have played key roles in expanding the frontiers of knowledge, advancing medicine and industry, and creating new products from penicillin to plastics. This site tells their stories.
Indeed, it does. You can search the archives of past nominees – all the way back to 1993 when Bakelite, the world's first synthetic plastic, earned the title of National Historic Chemical Landmark.
The site features education tools for teachers (from elementary school all the way to community college) to use in the classroom.
The ACS also produces informative and entertaining videos to highlight the winners.
Check out the video to learn what makes fluorescent colors so vivid and get an inside look at how pigments and dyes are made at DayGlo's colorful factory.
I hope to someday soon tour the facility myself. . . I wonder if I still have my DayGlo gear.
And if you want to tap the resources at the ACS National Historic Chemical Landmark site, go here.
Senior Digital Editor and lover of all DayGlo colors.