Country Living (USA)
How Santa Found His Jolly
Santa didn’t always look so plump and rosy-cheeked. In early depictions, he ranged from a mischievous elf to a gaunt bishop. Here’s how the big guy you know and love came to be.
We Can Thank Coca-Cola
Santa Claus has been a staple of Coca-Cola’s holiday advertising since the 1920s, but it was in 1931 that an ad exec’s desire for a friendlier version of Santa would lead to changing the way the world would forever visualize everyone’s favorite gift-bearing man. Commissioned with the task, illustrator Haddon Sundblom looked to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and his depiction of a warm, jolly, and delightfully plump St. Nick for inspiration. Using his friend as the model, he then created the cheery man that is now synonymous with the name Santa.
Norman Rockwell’s Art Was Rejected
In 1935, one of the best known illustrators of American life, Norman Rockwell, pitched his own version of the new, jolly Santa, but Coke decided to stick with Sundblom.
An Original Coca-Cola Santa Can Bag Up to $50,000!
Vintage Coca-Cola Santa items of all types continue to be popular collectibles, but it’s the original artworks that Sundblom created from 1931–1964 that bring top dollar. During a 2014 episode of Antiques Roadshow, David Weiss appraised this original 1965 Sundblom illustration (above) at $30,150–$50,200!
See more of the evolution of the Coca-Cola Santa at coca-colacompany.com.