The Frontal Cortex

Santa Claus and Coca-Cola

Tis the season of Santa Claus, and my neighborhood is full of these awful blow up Santa dioramas. The grinch in me hopes that some other grinch comes along with a sharp scissors and pokes a hole in all this inflatable lawn plastic.

Don’t these people realize that there’s nothing vaguely Christian or religious or spiritual about Santa Claus? That he wasn’t there at the immaculate conception? That the modern image of Santa Claus was invented by the advertising executives of the Coca-Cola company? I kid you not:

Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on our advertising.

Before the 1931 introduction of the Coca-Cola Santa Claus created by artist Haddon Sundblom, the image of Santa ranged from big to small and fat to tall. Santa even appeared as an elf and looked a bit spooky.

God Bless America, where our religious icons come from soft-drink companies. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend.


  1. #1 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    December 22, 2006

    Bring the hate!

    Don’t worry, Santa Claus is dead.

  2. #2 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    December 22, 2006

    Don’t these people realize that there’s nothing vaguely Christian or religious or spiritual about Santa Claus?

    You have presented no evidence as to whether your neighbors think Santa Claus has some Christian religious significance, or whether they even care. All I see is your desire to inflict your wishes on them. That’s the problem with the whole trumped-up ‘war on Christmas’ scheme: if Bill O’Reilly and his mindless followers want to say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, let them! They are free to do so. I have no objection whatsoever. But that’s not enough for them. They want to force me to say what they want as well. I am sorry to hear that you have some ideological kinship with such folk.

  3. #3 Jonah
    December 22, 2006

    I agree with you. People can believe whatever they want to believe. But I do have to wonder about folks – like my next door neighbor – who put an inflatable Santa Claus right next to their nativity scene. I’m a “one or the other” type of guy. Either you take the holiday seriously, in which case you go to church and all the rest, or you suscribe to the kitsch/commercialized/secular version of the holidays, in which case you put Santa Claus on the front lawn. But please, don’t do both. This just confuses the kids. (Speaking of which, isn’t pretty sad that more than 85 percent of Americans admit that they believed in Santa Claus as children? I’m Jewish, so I missed out on that whole mass delusion, but I’m curious why so many parents insist on making their kids believe that these holiday acts of generosity – all those presents under the tree – are actually the gift of a fat man from the North Pole. Personally, I want my kids to know where there presents came from: ME.)

    And no, I’m not usually this grouchy.

  4. #4 brtkrbzhnv
    December 22, 2006

    The modern image of Santa was not invented by the Coca Cola company; that’s an urban legend.

  5. #5 J Daley
    December 23, 2006

    Whatever. Those blow-up lawn ornaments are awful, war on christmas or no. Around here (as around there, I suspect) we also have these incredibly dumb blow-up gigantic snow-globes. I’m young, and yet I can remember a time when all you did was put up pretty lights and put a tree in the window. That was tasteful, classy and aesthetically pleasing. It was like a western, winter Diwali. Who doesn’t like pretty lights?

    The recent turn towards creating tacky wonderlands of one’s front lawn, however, replete with Disney figures fawning around a creche is downright obscene. I abhor it.

  6. #6 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    December 23, 2006

    Americans believe in angels, poll says

    Interesting in itself, but here’s the relevant part:

    Nearly half, 47 percent, said Santa detracts from the religious significance of Christmas; over one-third, 36 percent, said he enhances the religious nature of the holiday.

  7. #7 Scott Simmons
    December 24, 2006

    “Personally, I want my kids to know where there presents came from: ME.”

    Ah, but that’s the point, you see. Gifts that aren’t anonymous impose an obligation–of gratitude, of returning the gift, of sending a thank-you note. An anonymous gift is free of strings, a true gift indeed. That’s what it means when the tag says ‘From Santa’; not that the gift was delivered by a jolly old elf from the north pole, but that the giver doesn’t care if you know who it was from. And that is a gift indeed …

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, and Season’s Greetings!

  8. #8 Jen
    December 7, 2008

    I love it. You have said it wonderfully. I came across your blog while looking for pictures of those inflatable eyesoars. I was actually looking for the Nativity(Which I have actually seen, here in Utah, right next to the grinch and some stupid looking snowglobe with some penguins in it.) If it wasn’t illegal I would take them all out.I raised my child to know that Christmas was a celeration of the birth of Jesus Christ. We never did the whole Santa thing, we raised him to know “The Story” of Santa Claus and the true meaning of Christmas.

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