It’s as bright as a day that grown ducks are not yellow; But why are rubber ducks?

The main reason rubber ducks are yellow is that they are supposed to picture baby ducks, and the baby ducks or ducklings of the most popular duck breed (Pekin) are bright yellow; that’s why it makes sense.

On the other hand, rubber ducks are mainly used in the bathtub, and the yellow color is easier to see in the bath. In addition, water is one of the key associations with rubber ducks, so they can be used as emergency sea rescue equipment, as they’re primarily yellow. The other reason might be related to the symbolism of the yellow color. Yellow brings happiness and energy, and the main purpose of rubber ducks is to please kids, especially while bathing.

You might find this interesting; the yellow rubber duck has achieved an iconic status in Western pop culture! The reputation of rubber ducks is a way longer story, rubber ducks are not only famous as toys for kids but also are loved among adults and even programmers use them for solving problems!

This blog post will take a closer look at the rubber duck mania shaking up the world.

A short history of rubber ducks

It all started when Ernie sang ‘Rubber Duckie’ on Sesame Street in 1970. In the 35 years since the song “Rubber Duckie” was released, this toy has gained great visibility and popularity in contemporary American culture. The early functions of rubber ducks used to be for infants, childhood, bathing, and bathrooms. Over time, adults have discovered many creative uses for rubber ducks, including artwork, protest actions, parody, sports connections, retail business names, programming, debugging, and fundraising with duck races. So, that’s how rubber ducks are so popular at this time in the lives of both children and adults. Plain yellow ducks, now called classic or retro, are still the most common ones sold, although a new wave of occupationally costumed and colored ducks has appeared. Yellow ducks are gender-neutral, a factor that may encourage their popularity. No longer made of rubber, the name “rubber duck” has nevertheless endured, although other names are used as well, including floaty, squeaky, squeezy, yellow, bath, and tub duck.

Yellow color psychology and symbolism

According to sensational color, sunny yellows are cheerful hues, the color of warmth and spring daffodils. It stimulates our nerves, glands, and brain, making us more alert and energized. Yellow boosts our memory, and it encourages communication. It’s a color that promotes activity and interaction. In general, yellow is optimism and the cheerfulness of a sunny day. So, yellow is best for rubber ducks.

yellow rubber duck

Rubber duck symbolism

The story of how 29,000 lost rubber ducks helped map the world’s oceans

According to this YouTube video, In January 1992, the Evergreen Ever Laurel set sail from the United Kingdom. She headed due east carrying normal things cargo ships carry, such as textiles, electronics, food, and most importantly, 29000 rubber ducks. The massive cargo ship rolled 40 degrees to one side in the huge waves, and 12 containers fell off into the icy waters below. Rubber ducks are made of rubber which is waterproof. Almost every duck in the world has a hole in the bottom, and most rubber ducks do, except for these. It was just a choice made in manufacturing. Because of that, these ducks would never take on water like normal rubber ducks and therefore floated forever. About a year after that North Pacific storm, something unremarkable happened; rubber ducks started to be found in different places such as in Sitka, Alaska, and Japan, then more appeared again in Alaska. Small numbers were also found on beaches in Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. Nowadays, however, these ducks are so popular that they have been purchased for up to $1,000 at auction. 

Thai Protest Symbol

In Thailand, protests began in early 2020 with demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. There were chemical-laced water cannons to be repelled on protesters. This was when huge, yellow, inflatable rubber ducks were pushed to the front and took on the brunt of the water cannons. Afterward, pictures were disseminated in the press: of the rubber ducks, slightly deflated, stained purple but still smiling. As a result, rubber ducks got more popular than before. At that time, rubber ducks protecting protesters were pictured by lots of artists and covered by news agencies. According to the Thai Enquirer, the duck’s color is also significant. In the battle of symbols, pro-royalist protesters have all but appropriated the ‘yellow shirt’ as the symbol of conservatism and respect for the monarchy. Finally, the yellow duck has become a symbol of bravery. The rubber duck has been christened as the ‘protector’ of the protesters. But there are more parallels between the yellow duck and the female high schooler speaking up for democracy: both are, in actuality, relatively defenseless, yet standing at the front lines of the battle for the Thai nation.

rubber ducks in Thai protests
Art by Twitter user @badiucao

Symbol of infancy, childhood, and nostalgia in contemporary American culture

As it’s extensively described by Lotte Larsen Meyer in The Journal of American Culture, because of its association with children (especially infants), the rubber duck has gradually become a symbol for babies and for early childhood in general. Just as rubbers ducks have symbolically promoted “fun” for children, adults have rediscovered their childhood toy for the same reason: to re-experience the innocent, silly fun of their childhood and fuse work and play. 

When is national duck day?

According to a 1973 Sesame Street calendar, Rubber Duckie’s Birthday is January 13th so around the country it’s National Rubber Ducky Day! We suggest you take a bath with a rubber duck on this day. The most traditional and the best way to celebrate rubber ducky day is by filling your bathtub with water and adding some rubber ducks. This helps you have a relaxed and fun-filled bath time while celebrating national rubber duck day.


So, in this blog, we dived into the theory behind the color of rubber ducks and all possible reasons why rubber ducks are yellow. We hope you got your answer to the main question about rubber ducks. So, from now on, you can buy the most popular and iconic toy of western pop culture knowing the most important thing about it. Thanks for reading!

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