Coca-Cola® and Santa ClausMost people can agree on what Santa Claus looks like -- jolly, with a red suit and a white beard. But he did not always look that way, and
2006 marked the 75th anniversary of the famous
Before the 1931 introduction of the
Through the centuries, Santa Claus has been depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to an elf. He has worn a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. The modern-day Santa Claus is a combination of a number of the stories from a variety of countries.
The Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862; Santa was shown as a small elf-like figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years and along the way changed the color of his coat from tan to the now traditional red. Though some people believe the
At this time, many people thought of
In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke. The ad featured the world's largest soda fountain, which was located in the department store of Famous Barr Co. in St. Louis, Mo. Mizen's painting was used in print ads that Christmas season, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in December 1930.
Archie Lee, the D'Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The
For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore's 1822 poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (commonly called "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"). Moore's description of St. Nick led to an image of Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human. For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa that helped to create the modern image of Santa -- an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world.
From 1931 to 1964,
Sundblom continued to create new visions of Santa Claus through 1964. For decades after,
These original paintings by Haddon Sundblom are some of the most prized pieces in the art collection of our Company’s Archives Department, and have been on exhibit around the world, including at the Louvre in Paris, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Isetan Department Store in Tokyo and the NK Department Store in Stockholm.
Did you know?
It's a common misconception that Santa wears a red coat because red is the color of
People loved the
In the beginning, artist Haddon Sundblom painted the image of Santa using a live model -- his friend, Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman. When Prentiss passed away, Sundblom used himself as a model, painting while looking into a mirror. After the 1930s, he used photographs to create the image of St. Nick.
The children who appear with Santa Claus in Haddon Sundlbom’s paintings were based on Sundblom's neighbors. However, the neighbors were both girls, and Sundblom simply changed one to a boy in his paintings!
The dog in the 1964 original Santa Claus painting by artist Haddon Sundblom was actually a gray poodle belonging to the neighborhood florist. Sundblom painted the animal with black fur, instead, to make the dog stand out in the holiday scene.
The image of Santa Claus has appeared on cartons for bottles of
The "Sprite Boy" character, who appeared with Santa Claus and was used in
In 2001, the artwork from Haddon Sundblom's 1962 original painting was used as the basis for an animated TV commercial starring the