Say the word "Santa Claus" and we immediately bring up an image of a jolly old man in a red suit, with a white beard. But that was not always his image.
In 1862, Harper's Weekly depicted Santa as an elfin creature wearing tan clothing. Later, he was sometimes shown as a tall, gaunt figure wearing a Norse Huntsman's brown clothing. Yet another image showed Santa as a rather spooky-looking elf.
All of that began to change with the publication of Clement Clark Monroe's 1822 poem, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas", better known as "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Santa's clothing changed to "red".
The image was refined thanks to the Coca-Cola Company. They have featured Santa Claus in their advertising since the 1920's. In 1931 they commissioned illustrator Hadden Sundblom to develop advertising images with Santa as a real character, not a man dressed in a Santa suit.
Sundblom's images, refined the image we love today. Classic Coca-Cola Santa ads first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, which depicted Santa drinking a Coca-Cola at the "world's largest soda fountain", located at Famous-Barr in downtown St. Louis.
Today, Santa Claus is one of the most-recognized characters in history, and a sure bet to bring smiles to little children.