Haddon “Sunny” Sundblom

American Artist/Illustrator (June 22, 1899 – March 10, 1976)

Who loves Santa Claus? Did you know that the Santa we all know and love — that big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard — didn’t always look that way? In fact, before 1931, Santa was drawn as everything from a tall skinny man to a spooky-looking elf.

In 1931, The Coca Cola Company, wanted a campaign to show a fun Santa. So Coca-Cola hired illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop images using Santa Claus — showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa.

For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Moore’s description of St. Nick led to an image of a warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human Santa.

Sundblom's 1st Coca-Cola Santa from the %22Thirst Knows No Season%22 Advertising Campaign (1931)sm

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. It was extremely popular!

Every year from 1931 to 1964, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa delivering toys (and playing with them!), pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, visiting with the children who stayed up to greet him, and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes.

%22The Pause that Refreshes%22 by Haddon Sundblom “Santa, Please Pause Here” by Haddon Sundblom (1963)“Thirst Asks Nothing More” by Haddon Sundblom (1941)“Refreshing Surprise” by Haddon Sundblom (1959) “Things Go Better with Coke” by Haddon Sundblom (1964 last) “Travel Refreshed” (with Sprite Boy) by Haddon Sundblom (1949) Haddon Sundblom

For our project today, you get to draw a picture of Santa Claus holding a bottle or can of your favorite beverage.

Supplies Needed:

-Prints or digital slideshow of Sundblom’s work

-acrylic paint


-palettes/paper plates for paint

-paint brushes (sm, med)

-buckets for water

-sketch paper & pencils

-Aprons/big t-shirts to protect clothing

-Lots of paper towels

Please share your experiences teaching this lesson, any improvements you would recommend, and pictures of your students’ artwork. 🙂

Thank you!