Myth Or Fact: Was Modern Day Santa Invented By Coca-Cola?

Due to his red and white suit and his heavy use by Coca-Cola in advertising, it is widely believed that modern day Santa was invented by the soft drink giant. But is this the case though?

Let’s look at the facts.

With a bit of a research, the short answer is “No”, but Coca-Cola played an important role in popularising the image. Here’s how it goes: (the article continues after the ad)

The image of Santa Claus as we know it today, was first appeared in the 1822 poem of Clement Clark Moore “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (commonly called “Twas the Night Before Christmas”). Moore’s description of St. Nick was an image of a warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human Santa.

Inspired by this poem, several images of Santa fitting the poem’s description appeared at the end of the 19th century. The first one, was this illustration by Thomas Nast:

Photo: Wikimedia

At the beginning of the 20th century, some American companies started using Santa Claus in their advertising campaigns. One notable example, was this 1915 ginger ale ad of White Rock Beverages:


The image of Santa Claus also appeared on several covers of Puck magazine:

Photo: Wikimedia
Photo: Wikimedia
Photo: Wikimedia

It wasn’t until several years later, more specifically in 1931, that Coca-cola started using Santa Claus in its advertising material. From 1931 to 1964, Coca-Cola ads had Santa delivering toys (and playing with them!), pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, visiting the children who stayed up to greet him and raiding people’s refrigerators.

However, even though Coca-Cola not only didn’t envision the modern say Santa but also wasn’t the first company to use him on its advertisements, it definitely played an important role in popularising the image. Due to its enormous advertising budget and worldwide appearance, Coca-Cola placed Santa in every home; from America to Africa and Australia. Even though we can’t be 100% sure, we are pretty confident that if it wasn’t for Coca-Cola, the look of Santa we all know and love wouldn’t be so popular, at least outside the US.

Here are some memorable advertisements from 1931 until 1964:

And now you know!

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: How Much Weight Would Santa Claus Gain From Consuming Cookies And Milk At Every House?      

Photos: Coca-Cola
Main photo of the article: Coca-Cola

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