In 1931, artist Haddon H. Sundblom created an interpretation of Santa Claus that was used to advertise Coca-Cola, and for the next three decades his vision of Santa appeared in the most popular magazines in America.

Coke_santa_and_sprite_boy_2Over the years, the Coca-Cola Santa helped to create the modern-day image of St. Nick – friendly and jolly with a kind face. (Before this, Santa had sometimes been scary!)

In the 1930s, Sundblom was one of the leading illustrators of his time, working for clients that included Cream of Wheat, Nabisco, Maxwell House Coffee, Whitman Chocolates, Goodyear Tires and Budweiser.

Sundblom began producing illustrations for Coca-Cola in 1924, and continued until his death in 1976. He would become our Company’s most prolific artist, painting subjects ranging from bathing beauties to soda-fountain scenes to our “Yes Girl” billboard.

He also created the famous Sprite Boy character.

The Sprite Boy is an elf that appeared in Coke ads in the 1940s and 50s, wearing either a soda jerk’s hat or a bottle cap as a hat. He helped tell people that it was OK to use the nickname “Coke” instead of using the full “Coca-Cola” name. (Using “Coke” was something the Company had resisted for years.)

Santa and Sprite Boy were featured together in a few holiday ads, including this 1949 “Travel Refreshed” piece. Of course, since Santa didn’t appear beyond the holiday season, the holidays were the only time the two appeared together!