“Hey, look there’s Santa Clause!”

“Don’t be a sucker man.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Dude, you are totally falling for the biggest corporate shill in advertising history.”

“Eddy, have you been drinking?”

“Seriously Man, Santa Clause was created by the Coca-Cola Company”

“Oh come on…”

“Dude, don’t be fooled. The fat man is actually a corporate mascot. Look at his colors, Hello? Red and white? He even looks like a friggen Coke bottle.”

“I thought the Coke bottle was supposed to look like a woman?”

“Different conspiracy man.”

“This is a little hard to believe.”

“You won’t see “Santa Fraud” in my house.”

“Eddy you live with your folks.”

“And mom swore no Santa decorations this year.”

“I think I have to go now Eddy”

The belief that Santa Clause was created by the Coca-Cola Company is surprisingly prevalent. While it has become an accepted reality, the truth is somewhat different.

Santa as we know him evolved from two specific sources. The first was Clement Clarke Moore, a New York writer who in 1822 wrote a poem for his kids called “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” now more commonly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The other was in Europe. Supposedly, some guy with a beard would go around frightening children accompanied by an invisible Christkindlein (The Christ Child). Christkindlein would then leave gifts for the children in the morning. Now, ignoring the bizarre notion of having such weird Halloween-like behavior at Christmas, I assume the presents were to make amends for scaring the salt out of the poor little beggars in the first place. As the Christkindlein was invisible and the whiskered scare-monger was not, the two of them sort of merged into one over time.

The Santa Claus figure, while not yet officially standardized, was still everywhere by the 19thcentury. Already rotund and dressed in varying colors of fur (sorry PETA) he was visibly immortalized by a Boston printer who made some Christmas cards and put Santa in his now famous red suit. This contributed heavily to locking in the dominant image we know today.

Come the early 1930’s Coca Cola execs were charged with figuring out how to increase sales during the winter months. While I’m sure many great ideas were tossed around the boardroom table (What about adding something addictive, like cocaine?) they eventually agreed to hire an illustrator to draw pictures of Santa holding a Coke, enjoying a Coke, giving presents such as Coke, dancing with a Coke or simply admiring a Coke. While not overly creative in conception, the ads ran every year, solidifying an image, originally created by others, of Santa Claus.

Talk about successful! This ad campaign would ultimately cement the notion that the Coca-Cola Company created Santa Claus. Obviously Coke has not gone out of its way to discourage such thoughts. (“Oh yeah he’s ours. We’re also negotiating with the Tooth Fairy’s people, but keep it quiet.”)

So the jolly, ruddy, white-whiskered, sack carrying Santa in a red suit that had become the standard image by the 1920’s was only made famous due to Coca Cola’s desperate need to introduce their ADD enhancing beverage to children at Christmas time.

This is the Holy Grail of advertising. To create an indelible image that can align so singularly with your product, yet still ring true universally is next to impossible to do. And you couldn’t ask for better pitchman than Santa.

So don’t curse Coca-Cola too loud regarding the jolly fat man. It’s way more fun to focus on other Coke-related conspiracies such as Pop Rocks-induced homicides, dissolving teeth or that Regis Philbin gets .0025 cents from every can of Coke sold .

Actually, I made that last one up.

Or did I?

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