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Dear Mr. Alice:

Why is blue the universal color for boys and pink for girls?

-- Wondering, San Diego

The blue/pink thing isn't universal. But our link to it goes back into our murky, superstitious European past, when evil spirits lurked everywhere and we used every opportunity we could to fend them off. Blue was a color associated with nobility and power and was said to offer protection. So boys were clothed in blue to keep them safe. Girls were expendable, so they didn't have a color at all until the 17th Century, when there were popular stories of how girls were born from rosebuds. And now it's just a marketing ploy.

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