If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s Santa Claus. He’s jolly. He wears a red suit. And he gets around in a cool sleigh. But do you know how his current image came to be? Neither did we until we did some investigating.
He started off as a 3rd century monk named St. Nicholas in what is now Turkey. He gave away his riches and roamed the countryside helping the poor. One tale claims he stuffed gold coins in the stockings of a poor family one night so the daughters would not be sold into slavery. Stories like this spread across the world and his legend grew. He was often described wearing blue and white clothing.
By 1804 he would’ve had more followers than Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson, had Facebook been around. Surely a man with such a reputation deserved a makeover. So, John Pintard of the New York Historical Society distributed wooden cutouts of him at one of their meetings. For the first time, Nicholas was depicted as a jolly man in red, standing by toy-filled stockings over a fireplace.
Then in 1819, Washington Irving, the same guy who wrote about the Headless Horseman, dreamt up the image of St. Nick flying a sleigh. So glad he kept his head!
Other 19th century scribbles of Santa Claus happened in 1822 when Clement Clark Moore wrote a poem called “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” and in 1881 when political cartoonist Thomas Nast illustrated Moore’s poem to create what is probably the first likeness of our modern-day Santa.
But it was a Coca-Cola ad in 1930 by Fred Mizen that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post that made Santa Claus a household name. It proved Santa could deliver toys and drink America’s number one beverage at the same time. Not even the Great Depression would stop him from multitasking!
Reading about Santa sure does make a Rascal hungry, huh? Come on in and grab a slice of Rascal House and a refreshing Coca-Cola.
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