Vermilion DyeThere has been some confusion about UL's school colors over the past few years. ultoday.com tells all.

vermilion - Vivid red to reddish orange. A bright red mercuric sulfide (cinnabar) used as a pigment; also called "Chinese red." (American Heritage Dictionary)

Recently, there has been some discussion on sports boards such as Ragin' Pagin' about the appearance around Lafayette of bizarre Cajuns' merchandise, dominated by yellow.

Yellow.

As in, 'Blue & yellow.'

'Maroon & yellow.'

'Purple & yellow.'

UL currently has a logo with five colors: red, white, black, silver... and either yellow or orange, depending on factors that aren't exactly clear.

So what, precisely, are UL's official colors?

According to the Blue Book of College Athletics, there are about 2200 four-year colleges and universities in the USA. One of them-- exactly one-- boasts the color vermilion.

The University of Louisiana.

UL's colors are vermilion and white... or as it has been said colloquially, "Vermilion Red & Evangeline White."

Vermilion has an interesting history. The word comes from the French vermeil, from the Latin vermiculus, “small worm” (referring to the cochineal), from vermis, worm or pest. So when The Vermilion publishes the April Fool's edition entitled The Vermin, they're actually not changing the word all that much.

Cochineal dye is made by pulverizing the bodies of certain insects, particularly females of the scale insect Dactylopius coccus. The cochineal pigment was first used by the Aztecs as a medicine, a dye, and a body paint.

Cochineal was discovered for Europe by Hernando Cortez's troops in 1519. Once introduced to Europe, the dye became prized for the intensity and permanence of the color, and it became an important commercial commodity during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Cochineal is very expensive: it takes 150 insects to produce a single gram of dye, and 70,000 are needed to produce one pound. So vermilion became a mark of the European elite.

In fact, the cochineal was used to produce the British Army's Redcoats. Which brings up an interesting question: Where did Betsy Ross get her fabrics?  Is it possible that the original colors of the United States are vermilion, white, and blue?