Monday, December 9, 2013

Is Coke responsible for Santa wearing red?

Yes, if you read the convincing argument by Mark Pendergrast in his book For God, Country & Coca-Cola (Phoenix 1994, p181). In an effort to sell more Coke in the colder months around Christmas in the northern winter, artist Haddon Sundblom created the classic Santa in the winter of 1931. Previously Santa dressed in blue, yellow or green and was often portrayed as tall and lean. After Sundblom had drawn him as part of the Coca Cola adverts he was forever portly, red, jolly and booted and appeared in promotions every subsequent Christmas to be “repositioned” as red.

As 1931 is before many of us can remember, we happily accept as plausible a story that fits our view of the world. As with many myths, they evolve over time and we actually can’t pinpoint a set moment when Santa became red, jolly, booted and larger than life. According to a [ very good article] at myth-busting central, aka, the classic Santa was around well before Sundblom got his crayons out. Even Coca Cola agree that Santa was red before they dressed him up. As you know, we humans much prefer a simple fib than an ephemeral truth.

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