Coca-Cola’s Role in the Evolution of Santa Claus

Coca-Cola is strongly associated with the modern Santa Claus, but the credit of giving Santa Claus his current physical appearance does not go to Coca Cola. In fact, that credit goes to nobody.

Over the centuries, in the course of his evolution from the fourth-century Christian saint Nicholas to the Santa Claus who fills the stockings of good children with Christmas gifts, Santa has appeared in different ways. Much of the credit of giving Santa his red outfit and cheerful countenance goes to Thomas Nast, a popular Civil War cartoonist who drew cartoons of Santa Claus for nearly thirty years.

 

Coca-Cola adopted Santa Claus in the early 1920s for its advertisement campaigns. When he first appeared in Coca-Cola ads, Santa looked quite stern. In the 1930s, Coca-Cola decided to change him into a realistic Santa, a character that appeared more human than mythological or divine.

The company asked Haddon Sundblom, an illustrator from Michigan, to create a suitable image of Santa Claus. A poem called “A visit from St. Nicholas,” commonly known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas,” written by Clement Clark Moore in 1822 gave Sundblom the inspiration he required. The artist converted the poet’s description of St. Nicholas into a depiction of a plump, cheerful, friendly, and warm figure that looked more realistic and human than all previous depictions of Santa. And this Santa soon appeared in Coca-Cola ads published in The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, The New Yorker, National Geographic, and others.

The_Holidays_are_coming_(6348328922).jpg

The Holidays are Coming / Wikimedia Commons / BY – SA – 2.0

Coca-cola ads continued to show Santa as a cheerful person interacting with children, showering them with gifts, drinking coke, raiding refrigerators, and so on for nearly thirty years.

Although Coca-Cola’s association with Santa is the wider known, another beverages company had used Santa for its ads long before Coca-Cola thought of doing so. In the early 1920s, White Rock Beverages, one of the biggest suppliers of mineral water in the US, used Santa in its soft drinks ads. Besides mineral water, the company also produced a variety of soft drinks and ginger ale.

Sources: 

  1. Snopes.com – Rumor Has It
  2. Coca-Cola Journey 

This is my article for the Christmas season. I felt I must write one by hook or crook. :))

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