While Coca-Cola did not create the legend of Santa Claus completely, it is true that Coca-Cola advertising played a big role in shaping the jolly character we know and love today.
Before 1931, there were many different depictions of Santa Claus around the world including a tall gaunt man and an elf, some even featured Santa Claus in a somewhat frightening manner.
The friendly, warm and grandfather-like image we see of Santa today first appeared in 1931 when Coca-Cola commissioned illustrator Haddon Sundblom to paint Santa Clause for the company’s Christmas adverts. Sundblom’s paintings for Coca-Cola established Santa as a warm, happy character with human features such as rosy cheeks, a white beard, twinkling eyes and laughter lines. Sundblom drew inspiration from an 1822 poem by Clement Clark Moore titled “A Visit from St. Nicholas” also known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.