Colored Chicks to Order (May, 1947)

Colored Chicks to Order

FRANKLY, we didn’t believe it either. But the evidence looks pretty convincing. It seems that down in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a certain experimental-minded senor named A. R. Zeno injected two dozen eggs with various vegetable dyes two hours before hatching time. When the chicks broke through their shells they were peeping happily and were apparently quite normal except that their feathers were bright blue, red, green, pink and lilac. And here they are as they arrived by Pan American air express eight hours later in New York City. Chick authorities generally agree that the process is harmless. Says Dr. Walter Landauer, Connecticut Agricultural School: ‘The injection of the dye does not hurt the chick because it goes into the albumen without actually getting into the chick itself.” Dr. Alexis L. Romanoff warned against the process becoming a fad. There’s a law in New York against importing chicks as toys, he added.

  1. mrchurchill109 says: December 12, 20078:45 am

    Rather like peanuts salted in the shell – these chicks were dyed in the shell! I can’t agree that this is harmless to the chick, though – seems to me that this would cause issues with the eyes and mucous membranes no matter how inert the dye may be.


  2. Neil Russell says: December 12, 20079:05 am

    I wonder if that headline could run today without getting up the ire of some readers?
    It looks like an ad from a Las Vegas phone book in the early 60s

  3. Charlie says: December 12, 20079:34 am

    Neil: I was thinking the same thing when I posted it 🙂

  4. hans says: December 12, 200711:37 am

    One question remains: WHY? 😀

  5. Travis says: December 12, 200711:42 am

    Back in the 1980’s I saw pastel dyed chicks for sale at the local feed & seed store around Easter time. I don’t know if this is how it was done.

  6. Eamonn says: December 12, 200712:50 pm

    It seems that this is still how they do it.…

  7. Neil Russell says: December 12, 20073:30 pm

    From that BBC posting it seems not to harm the chicks in any way and it looks like they have been doing it for some time.
    However I would still caution against going into a store and saying “I want some colored chicks”

    Just can’t let it go for some reason today! 😉

  8. Mike Brisendine says: December 12, 20074:14 pm

    I well remember getting “colored chicks” for Easter in 1956. They only lived a few weeks after getting them. If only Lou Reed had sung colored chicks instead of girls this thread would be taking a walk on the wild side.

  9. Perf says: December 12, 20078:29 pm

    I saw one of the in China a few years ago. People said it would quickly die. Not sure if it is from the dye of from too much handling. (My older brother raised normal chickens for 4H. Chicks need to stay warm. Heat lamps, etc. Still, a certain percentage would die.)

  10. Stannous says: December 12, 20078:39 pm

    Live fast, dye the young…


  11. Firebrand38 says: December 13, 200711:54 am

    There are times when sorry just doesn’t cut it…….

    Of course if you boil the eggs before they hatch it makes the “Dye Hard”. Now THAT’S sorry……

    This 4H webpage also has a link to how to do it. Seems that ornithologists use this technique so it apparently doesn’t cause them any harm. http://lancaster.unl.ed…

  12. WishItWould says: December 17, 20078:44 am

    So, I can make my black baby white by dyeing him with bleach? SCORE

  13. Firebrand38 says: December 24, 20079:02 am


  14. NikFromNYC says: January 11, 200810:58 pm

    A classic “kids” science experiment is to take a store-bought but still small slab of celery plant, slit it down the center, then grow each end hydroponically from small alcohol shot glasses, one side filled with red food coloring, the other with blue. Guess what you get? Dual colored adult celery! Red dye was toxic those days, so I hope the new stuff still works.

  15. Desman says: March 15, 20087:57 am

    Well people, that’s the favourite toy of some chinese children. Sadly, they (the children, not the chicks) seem blissfully ignorant of the fact that their new toy is alive and needs food and care…

  16. sisi says: June 14, 20084:28 pm

    it is illegal to sell colored chickens!

  17. martzc says: July 7, 200811:56 am

    poor chickens! (but look better than reg colors 😐 )
    I have 5 chickens, t of the black ones with yellowish speckles and 3 ‘rhode island red’. what kind R the black ones??
    might be back later..

  18. crocadragon says: August 19, 20089:24 pm

    you have to admit the are cute

  19. dustin sellers says: October 9, 200812:07 am

    i think it is dum cause they get treed different than other chick their like make up chicks u buy them and forget about them because once everthing is ok u dont need the chick any more and throw it away

  20. dustin sellers says: October 9, 200812:10 am

    its dum

  21. Iconoclasm says: November 12, 20083:48 pm

    I was thumbing though the laws to a town I just moved to. This pratice is illegal here somewhat. Which is why I had to google it to see what the heck this pratice was about.

    Our law link:…

    No person shall sell, exchange, offer to sell or exchange, display or possess living baby chicks, ducklings, or other fowl or rabbits which have been dyed or colored; nor dye or color any baby chicks, ducklings or other fowl or rabbits; nor sell, exchange, offer to sell or exchange or to give away baby chicks, ducklings or other fowl or rabbits, under two months of age in any quantity less than six, except than any rabbit weighing three pounds or more may be sold at an age of six weeks.

  22. Bobbi Miller says: March 8, 20091:34 pm

    the site listed above still proves it is still done today. It is not a fad but a marketing tech. The chicks seem to do fine but the lasting effects are still undetermined, as well as fading issues.

  23. nehir says: May 17, 20098:56 am

    Bence bu bir katliam civcivlerin can? yok mu??nsanlar? hiç anlam?yorum hayvanlar?n do?al rengi her zaman daha iyidir hem insanlar?n yapt??? dogal dengeyi bozmakla kalm?yor bir hayvan?n can?n? elinden al?yor buna kimsenin hakk? yok

  24. nehir says: May 17, 20098:57 am

    Bence bu bir katliam civcivlerin can? yok mu??nsanlar? hiç anlam?yorum hayvanlar?n do?al rengi her zaman daha iyidir hem insanlar?n yapt??? dogal dengeyi bozmakla kalm?yor bir hayvan?n can?n? elinden al?yor buna kimsenin hakk? yok

  25. Firebrand38 says: May 18, 20091:17 pm

    nehir, and a “Boogah-boogah” to you too. Thanks for playing.

  26. ayar says: January 31, 20104:10 am

    i love colored chicks 😀

  27. Eric says: March 1, 20128:34 pm

    When I lived in Dominican republic I bought six colored baby chicks. After a while the dye came of and I had them for about three years then I moved to newyork and left my chickens with my friend who did cockfights. The hole point is that if you live some where were it’s not cold all the time you could just leave your chicks in the backyard with food and water you don’t need no heat lamp or nothing. Also the dye does not kill them. P.s. In Dominican republic dying chicks nor cock fighting is illegal.

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.