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Merry Christmas with Coca-Cola Santa by Haddon Sundblom

2016 December 19

How many of us have memories of the sounds and smells of Christmas and what we think about Santa Claus and the holidays.  I have always loved Santa especially the way he is drawn by Mr. Sundblom.  These pictures evoke memories of my childhood and make me happy.  Just think the image and colors we use today for Santa all came from the art of Haddon Sundblom and advertising by Coca-Cola.  Enjoy the ones I have found, and of course, Merry Christmas!!

Great history is found at the coca-cola company website, excerpt:

“In 1931, Coca-Cola commissioned Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa.

Sundblom’s Santa debuted in 1931 in Coke ads in The Saturday Evening Post and appeared regularly in that magazine, as well as in Ladies Home Journal, National Geographic, The New Yorker and others.

In the beginning, Sundblom painted the image of Santa using a live model his friend Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman. When Prentiss passed away Sundblom used himself as a model, painting while looking into a mirror. Finally, he began relying on photographs to create the image of St. Nick.

People loved the Coca-Cola Santa images and paid such close attention to them that when anything changed, they sent letters to The Coca-Cola Company. One year, Santa’s large belt was backwards (perhaps because Sundblom was painting via a mirror). Another year, Santa Claus appeared without a wedding ring, causing fans to write asking what happened to Mrs. Claus.

The children who appear with Santa in Sundblom’s paintings were based on Sundblom’s neighbors two little girls. So he changed one to a boy in his paintings.

The dog in Sundblom’s 1964 Santa Claus painting was actually a gray poodle belonging to the neighborhood florist. But Sundblom wanted the dog to stand out in the holiday scene, so he painted the animal with “black fur.”

Haddon Hubbard “Sunny” Sundblom (June 22, 1899 – March 10, 1976)

1930c Santa on round rug with Rudolph at door


1931 Santa from flickr1931 Santa in chairwith elves dressing him blog

1931 Santa with elves helping him dress and a band

1931 – My Hat’s Off to the Pause that Refreshes The magical transformation of the Coca-Cola Santa happened in 1931.  Archie Lee, the ad agency creative director for the Coca-Cola account, was inspired to show a wholesome, kind Santa.  He turned to artist Haddon Sundblom to create the image.

1932 Dear Santa Please Pause here JImmy

1932 – Sundblom’s second painting features a note in which a child, Jimmy leaves a Coke for Santa instead of cookies.

1934 holding glass with whip and gloves in belt


1935 Coca-Cola Santa It will refresh you too sundbloom flickr

1935 – This ad shows that if drinking Coca-Cola is good enough to refresh Santa, it is good enough to refresh everyone else.

1936 Santa Coca Cola No. 2

1936: “Me too!“ In this painting Santa enjoys himself in the midst of his bounty of toys and a Coca-Cola.

1937 Give and Take Say I from coca-colacompanydotcom1937 Give and take-say I flickr

1937: “Give and take, say I”

1938 Thanks for the pause that refreshes flickr

1938 – a child first showed up in a family living room

1939 Coca-Cola And the same to you Sundblom flickr


1941 Thirst asks nothing more1941 Thirst asks nothing more flickr

1941 –Santa relaxes next to a cooler of Coca-Colas.  Used in calendars, cut outs and in print ads.  In 1941 trademarked the name Coca-Cola.

1942 Santa with snow on boots on porch


1943 December or how Americans spread the holiday spirit overseas flickr1943 wherever I go


1944 Merry Christmas to you

1944 – Santa and Sprint boy saluting the troops.

1945 greetings

1945 they knew what I wanted

1945 – at the end of the Second World War.

1946 Santa with note For Me oil on canvas flickr


1947 things go better with Coke illustrated by Haddon Sundblom flickr

1947 busy mans pause

1947 Coca-Cola Santa Hospitality in your refregerator Sundblom flickr

Santa Coca Cola sign from FB Le'Junque & Co.


1948 Santa with stool


1949 Travel refreshed with Sprite boy flickr good housekeeping ad

1949 – Sprite boy and eight reindeer referencing the Twas the Night Before Christmas poems of Clement Clarke Moore

1950 Santa with frig and boy and girl


1951 Santa by desk and globe

1951 – “Now It’s My Time” using his own model from self-portraits from photographs according to his wife Betty.

1952 Santa with coke and boy and girl with gifts

1952 – next door neighbor in Tucson Arizona, Lani & Nancy Nason sisters, but Sundblom changed one to a boy to balance the scene. Also appeared in 1952 and 1953 works.

1953 Santa and workship filled with toys flckr


1954 Santa leaning on wall with coke and boot crossed


1955 Santa with twin girls and a shopping cart Look magazine flickr


1956 Santa with elf painting sign for sparkling holidays

1956 – artwork is a cleaned-up version of the 1953 painting.  Work bench and helper removed. Produced by a new advertising agency for Coca-Cola McCann-Erickson

1959 Refreshing Surprise calendar flickr

1959- shows a departure for Sundblom, from this year forward Santa plays an important role but elves, children, pets and toys also play significant roles.

1962 Santa with train and helicopter

1962 – Season’s Greetings impish child-like personality, as in the 1936 with a train also a helicopter something that didn’t exist until 1940.

1963 Dear Santa ...Jimmy flickr

1963 – Dear Santa, Please Pause Here, Jimmy” is at it again.  First in 1932 then again in 1945, Jimmy leaves a note for Santa and a Coke.  In the 2001 ad this 1963 Santa comes to life in an animated holiday commercial created by Academy Award-winning animated Alexandre Petrov.

1964 Santa sister and brother with black poodle

1964 – “Things Go Better with Coke” The last year that a tradition, original Sundblom Santa was used in the advertising for Coca-Cola.  Two children and black poodle.

1966 Boy's Life ad with desk and chair and deer on rug


1956 June American Artist magazine photo of Haddon Sundblom flickr

Haddon Sundblom in 1956

Thank you for reading my blog and hope you enjoyed the amazing artistic abilities of Haddon Sundblom.  His career covered other illustrations and can be found doing a search.  I am providing this for research purposes only.





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3 Responses Post a comment
  1. December 17, 2020

    I am so happy you found my article and it you and your husband enjoyed it. I believe the image created has been a comfort to many through the years and that is one reason I did this blog. Blessings to you and yours and Merry Christmas!!

  2. Ms J Ritchie permalink
    December 17, 2020

    Thanks so much I enjoyed this article. My spouse is a UNSTF Vet of 25 years. A mile fm our home a coca cola Santa eithout the bottle is displayed in front of a house Every Xmas. My spouse suffers fm severe PTSD & the last 7 years he looks for that Santa & wishes he could find one. He grew up with one like that at the corner store. I know it would help brighten his outlook on life I was hoping I could find one. If I could I’d make him one. Thankyou for listening & for sharing this beautiful history & craftmanship. Blessings to you & yours.

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