Coca Cola; History, Ads, T.O., Santa, Nazi’s, how it’s made and Uses for Coke.

Coca-Cola is an American drink company that has become an American Icon. It has been with us through Wars, Celebrations, Depression, and at many July 4th events. We tend to see Coca-Cola as an Icon. We can’t remember a time that it wasn’t around. In all this constant name recognition we never thought to Familiarize ourselves with its history. Coca-Cola has quite a twisted history that includes; Drug addiction, War, Crippling water disputes, and Nazi backing.  If this has peaked your Interest, stick around as I delve into the good, bad, and Ugly side of Coca-Cola’s History.

First on the list is a question that few people can answer. Who Invented Coca-Cola?

The inventor of Coca Cola is a man by the name of, John Stith Pemberton. Pemberton invented Coca -Cola in the basement of his home that was in Atlanta Georgia on May 8, 1886.  His reason behind inventing Coca-Cola might surprise you. He invented Coca-Cola to cure an addiction to Morphine.

John Stith Pemberton was born on January 8, 1831, in the small town of Knoxville, Georgia, near Macon, but he grew up mostly in Rome, in Georgia’s Appalachian foothills, and attended schools there.

Pemberton returned to Macon to enroll at the Reform Medical College of Georgia there, taking courses in pharmacy and medicine.

He was trained as a so-called steam doctor in a system devised by the Massachusetts doctor and herbalist Samuel Thomson—a system that relied on herbal treatments and steam baths that, it was believed, would help patients rid themselves of disease by sweating heavily. Pharmacy and the practice of medicine overlapped considerably in that system and in many of the other novel medical methods of the nineteenth century. He received his degree in Macon at the age of 19.

Side note: Steam Doctor is;
The practice of nineteenth-century medicine in the United States was a battleground of regular or orthodox physicians—also referred to as allopaths—and various irregular practitioners, including botanicals, homeopaths, eclectics, and osteopaths. The distinctions among the groups were based on formal medical education—or the lack thereof—and specific therapeutic approaches to disorders and diseases.

Later Pemberton acquired a more conventional pharmacy degree, perhaps in Philadelphia. In the early 1850s, Pemberton launched a medical-surgical career in Rome.

Ann Eliza Clifford Lewis

He married Ann Eliza Clifford Lewis, a student at Macon’s Wesleyan College, and the pair moved to Columbus, Georgia, in 1853. They had a son, Charles, born the following year. Always on the lookout for financial opportunities bigger than those available to an average small-city pharmacist, he opened a wholesale and retail business selling the raw materials for pharmaceutical remedies sold in apothecary shops and less formal retail environments, such as medicine shows, across the South.

John Pemberton. Promoted to brigadier general on 17 June In February, 1862, Pemberton was appointed major general in command of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Six months later he was made lieutenant general and given command over Mississippi and Tennessee. Maj General Pemberton was placed in command of the Department of South Carolina and Georgia in December Since he was born in the north, many mistrusted him. On the 1 Oct 1862, Maj General Pemberton was given order to lead the Confederates in Vicksburg to keep the Union from capturing Vicksburg. If the Union captured Vicksburg, It would cut the Confederacy in two and retake one of the major shipping routes from the northwest, allowing the northwestern states to reopen the trade on which a large part of their economy depended (Pemberton).

After the outbreak of the Civil War, Pemberton enlisted in the army of the Confederacy in May of 1862 and was made a first lieutenant. He organized the Third Georgia Cavalry Battalion for the defense of Columbus and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel. Pemberton was directly in the line of fire when Union troops under General James Wilson attacked Columbus on Easter Sunday of 1865, and he suffered gunshot and sword wounds in the battle. Pemberton, like many other Civil War veterans, is thought to have become addicted to morphine after using it for pain control as he recovered from these wounds.

He was one of the most successful pharmacists and chemists of his time in Atlanta, Georgia, and he had created several widely distributed products before he began to work on his cola idea. (Encyclopedia)

Here are 4 facts about druggist and chemist John Stith Pemberton

1.      Coca-Cola’s inventor served as an officer in the Civil War, and an injury eventually led to the creation of the carbonated drink.

Pemberton served in the Confederate army for almost the entire span of the Civil War, according to Richard Gardiner, whose article on Pemberton was published in the Journal of the Muscogee Genealogical Society. During a battle involving a sword fight on horseback with Union cavalry, Pemberton was shot and slashed by a saber. Before the war, Pemberton had served as a chemist and druggist, so he had access to morphine and became dependent upon it to ease his pain after the war.

2.      Pemberton turned to cocaine as a substitute for morphine.

The Georgia man began to experiment with opium-free medicine, as he knew his morphine addiction was dangerous. When another doctor claimed he could cure opium habits with coca (cocaine), Pemberton devised his own concoction, which used coca leaves and kola nuts and was called French Wine Coca. A local prohibition law was enacted in 1886, so Pemberton was forced to remove the alcoholic element and his formula thus became Coca-Cola, according to Dominic Streatfeild, who authored Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography.

3.      The pharmacist’s morphine addiction spurred him to sell the company.

Growing sick, Pemberton started to sell off parts of the company because he needed money to support not just his family, but also his morphine addiction, according to Mark Pendergrast’s book For God, Country, and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes It. Coke maintains on its website that Pemberton “never realized the potential of the beverage he created” and sold the company in pieces to various partners. Just before his death in 1888, Pemberton sold his remaining interest to a businessman named Asa Candler. (Pharmacy times)

4. John Pemberton died from stomach cancer at age 57 in August 1888. At the time of his death, he also suffered from poverty and addiction to morphine. His body was returned to Columbus, Georgia, where he was buried at Linwood Cemetery. His grave marker is engraved with symbols showing his service in the Confederate Army and his membership as a Freemason. His son Charley continued to sell his father’s formula, but six years later Charles Pemberton died after having become an opium addict. (Wikipedia)

John Pemberton: Cocaine and Coca-Cola

John Pemberton realized that the opiate drugs that had become his addiction were quite dangerous and so he began a search to find a better alternative to an opiate drug to cure his addiction. Pemberton’s search for a safer treatment option led him to create his type of tonic. It is said that Pemberton was perhaps inspired by coca wines of European origins, which were simply wines that contained extracted leaves from coca plants. Coca plant extracts were initially used as a power painkiller but eventually gave way to the creation of the powerful drug known today as cocaine. Pemberton’s “nerve tonic” was a mixture of alcohol and coca extracts. The tonic was successful until the prohibition movement.  A Forever Recovery)

Released in 1880, this is the very first publicly sold bottle of Coca-Cola. It contained around 3.5 grams of cocaine.

While the original Coke formula had a significant amount of cocaine in it, it was quickly limited and, by 1903 or thereabouts, eliminated from the recipe.

This was done in part because the desired flavor can be extracted from the coca leaves, removing the cocaine and leaving the drug aside as a byproduct.

To this day, Coca-Cola needs coca leaves to make its drinks; as a Coke exec told the New York Times, “ingredients from the coca leaf are used, but there is no cocaine in it and it is all tightly overseen by regulatory authorities.”

In fact, the United States (and most other nations) expressly prohibits the sale and trade of coca leaves. In order for Coca-Cola to continue to exist in its current form, the company has a special arrangement with the Drug Enforcement Administration, allowing it to import dried coca leaves from Peru (and to a lesser degree, from Bolivia) in huge quantities. The cocaine-free leaves are then shipped off to Coke to turn into syrup, and, ultimately, soda.

What does Stepan do with the cocaine?

It goes to the Mallinckrodt Corporation, which creates legal, topical anesthesia called cocaine hydrochloride.

Cocaine hydrochloride is used to numb the lining of the mouth, nose, or throat,

and requires a DEA order form to obtain. (Business Insider)

In 1886, Prohibition was in full swing

Pemberton’s tonic, which contained alcohol, was no longer legal.

To continue manufacturing tonic, Pemberton had to remove the alcohol. When Pemberton removed the alcohol from his tonic, he called it “Coca-Cola.”

 The drink still contained coca leaf extracts; only it was free of alcohol. As his tonic became popular, it began to be sold in soda fountains, which were extremely high in popularity in the United States during the period. To gain even more popularity, Pemberton began advertising his Coca-Cola “tonic,” which he claimed would cure many ailments, including everything from a headache to addiction. (A Forever Recovery)

As years passed and cocaine use became widespread, medical studies began to develop in response to the epidemic that showed that while cocaine could have enjoyable effects, it could be harmful to individuals who ingested the drug. Studies continued on the energy and joy-producing effects of cocaine, although studies and speculation about adverse effects on the body also continued.

With the thought of a harmful ingredient, the pressure was put on the manufacturers of Coca-Cola to stop selling a product that contained cocaine. In the year 1903, the Coca-Cola Company removed cocaine from their soft drinks in order to remain in good graces with the general public and health officials who were concerned about the negative impact of cocaine. Adverse effects of cocaine include addiction, an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, damage to organs including the lungs and liver, as well as psychosis. (A Forever Recovery)

Asa Griggs Candler

Since every good Invention needs a Marketing advertisement, we must Introduce you to, Asa Griggs Candler. Griggs was the first to be successful in Marketing Coca Cola in the United States. Pemberton met Griggs when Asa came to him for relief of his Migraines. The two would become partners for a brief time.

Here are some videos that introduce us to Asa Griggs and what he did to help get Coca-Cola selling.

Ford Model T Coca Cola Route Truck on display in the Root Family Museum at MOAS

Coca-Cola Introduced the Handy Six Pack in 1923

“Take Home a Carton, It’s Easy to Carry”

The Coca-Cola Company introduced cardboard six-pack carriers in 1923. Although others have taken credit for the invention, it was Coca-Cola Company founder Asa Candler who conceived of a carton to enable customers to conveniently take six bottles of Coke home at a time. Candler had noticed a trend in the 1920s: people were stopping at their corner store to buy two or three bottles of Coke at a time to take home. Ever the entrepreneur, Candler meant to leverage the fact that most homes in the 1920s were getting refrigerators and that his customers would need a handy way to get multiple bottles of Coke home to be kept cool to drink later as opposed to purchasing cold bottles at the corner store daily. The idea was to get people to drink more Coke, and more often. The carton allowed people to carry more than three bottles home in a single trip to facilitate this increased consumption.

The Coca-Cola bottlers supplied cardboard carriers to stores selling Coke so the bottles could be packaged up at the time of purchase. The cartons were intended to be used three times before they were discarded. As a reminder, the cartons were clearly stamped, “Save the carton.” (Retro Planet)


The marketing and promotions of Coca Cola led to a significant increase in demand, and in 1894 a Mississippi businessman by the name of Joseph Biedenharn began bottling the beverage, making it portable. By 1895, Candler had built syrup plants in multiple cities including Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles to deal with increasing demand. Although Candler was a savvy businessman, he did not realize that the future of Coca-Cola would be in portable bottles rather than soda fountains. In 1899, Candler sold the exclusive rights to bottle the beverage to two lawyers named Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead.

As the beverage continued to gain popularity in bottle form, counterfeit Coca-Cola beverages began being produced by copy-cats. This led to The Coca-Cola Company advertising its product as genuine and running campaigns to urge the public to “demand the genuine”.

In 1916, the first contour-shaped bottles began being manufactured. This signature bottle design allowed The Coca-Cola Company to distinguish its product from the imitations. (Inter exchange)

Who was the President of Coca-Cola Company?

Robert Winship Woodruff

Robert Winship Woodruff was the president of The Coca-Cola Company from 1923 until 1954.

Robert Winship Woodruff was an entrepreneur who made possible the success of the Coca-Cola Company. Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1889, he worked as a truck salesman for the White Motor Company, based in Cleveland, Ohio, and quickly rose to the position of general sales manager.

Three years earlier in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. John Pemberton had invented a new carbonated soft drink flavored with malt syrup, dubbed Coca-Cola by his partner Frank M. Robinson. Sold for 5 cents a glass, “Coke” was first distributed in syrup form and sold only at soda fountains.

When Pemberton died in 1888, Asa Candler purchased his secret formula and elevated Coca-Cola to a national brand. By 1895, just seven years after he bought the company, Coca-Cola was available in every U.S. state.

Atlanta banker Ernest Woodruff, president of the Trust Company of Georgia, recognized the company’s potential and persuaded his son to invest in the Coca-Cola Company. In 1923, Woodruff became president of the now publicly traded company.

From Fountain to Bottle

The new president put uncommon emphasis on product quality. Woodruff established a “Quality Drink” campaign, in which trained servicemen assisted fountain outlets in selling and serving Coca Cola. He saw vast potential for the bottling business and established quality standards for every phase of its operation.

By 1929, Coca Cola sales in bottles had for the first-time exceeded fountain sales. Woodruff introduced revolutionary merchandise concepts such as the six-bottle carton, which made it easier for consumers to take Coke home, and the metal, open-top cooler, which made it possible for Coca Cola to be served ice cold in retail outlets.

Open top Cooler

The Power of Advertising

While Candler had introduced Americans to Coke, Woodruff would spend his 60 years as company leader introducing it to the world. Coke was a product no one needed; people had to be sold on it. Advertising was key, and Woodruff saw opportunities everywhere. In 1926, Mr. Woodruff established a foreign department, which in 1930 became the Coca Cola Export Corporation. Plants were opened in France, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Belgium, Italy and South Africa.

Woodruff captured these foreign markets with innovative campaigns, sending Coca-Cola with the U.S. team to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

1928 Amsterdam Kiosk

and emblazoning the company logo on racing dog sleds in Canada and the walls of Spanish bullfighting arenas.

Send Coke!

June 29th 1943, a military cable was sent from General Eisenhower’s field headquarters in North Africa which requested 3 million filled bottles of Coca-Cola along with 10 bottling lines and sufficient syrup and caps for 6 million refills.  This launched our efforts to supply ever GI a Coca-Cola for a nickle.  By the end of the war, we have supplied over 5 billions bottles of Coke to GIs around the globe.

One interesting note is the cable itself was classified as confidential and was not declassified until 1966.

Many of these wartime plants were later converted to civilian use, permanently enlarging the bottling system and accelerating the growth of the company’s worldwide business.

In 1941, longtime Coca-Cola leader Robert Woodruff said that “any person in uniform should get a bottle of Coke for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company”.

During WWII, a special group of Coca-Cola employees called Technical Observers were asked to fulfill Woodruff’s promise. The “TOs” supervised the shipment and operation of 64 complete bottling plants that distributed over 5 billion bottles of Coca-Cola to servicemen and women.

148  men served as TOs, complete with Army officer’s rank, pay and uniforms that had a unique identification patch. Two TOs were killed in the line of duty. Providing Coke to troops in remote areas of the South Pacific posed one of the most difficult problems to the TOs. The Brisbane, Australia, bottler offered one solution to the problem when he re-commissioned a portable soda fountain that had been used at drugstore conventions and had it flown into the hills to quench the thirsts of B-26 pilots. It was so successful that the Army requested a hundred more immediately.

Technicians from the Coca-Cola Export Corporation, working with the Liquid Carbonic and Hussman-Ligonier Companies, quickly developed a portable dispensing unit know as a “jungle fountain.” Combining a standard Junior Dole Dispenser with an ice-making machine, the unit could be easily transported by truck to any location.

Nearly 1,100 of these units were used in the Pacific. Tragedy struck an early shipment of 150 “jungle fountains” when the transport ship carrying them was torpedoed, but replacements soon reached the troops.

The TOs were given army fatigues, treated like commissioned officers, and had one responsibility: to serve Coke to every American GI, no matter where they were located. Their reputation spread as they deployed from North Africa to the Pacific and European theaters. Americans slung their rifles over their shoulders and welcomed the TOs without prejudice. Their inclusion into these units earned them the nickname “Coca-Cola Colonels,” and they worked tireless days, two returning home in flag-draped caskets.

Nazi Coca Cola Connection and the Birth of fanta

“The onset of the Second World War confronted the Coca-Cola Company with an acute irony.

In 1933, the year Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, Coca-Cola’s local unit sold 100,000 cases. The subsidiary’s finances were in shambles, however.

Enter 30-year-old German businessman Max Keith, a giant of a man with an imperious air and a massive greatcoat. Keith, a “born leader” who terrified subordinates but commanded their respect, took over Coca-Cola Germany’s books and quickly put them in order. He then revolutionized sales, breaking records every year and eventually heading the company.

One of Keith’s first marketing triumphs was supplying massive amounts of Coke to the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. At that time, Hitler was riding high.

Berlin 1936 Olympic Games

Nazi Germany was preparing to conquer Europe, and that September, Hitler’s second-in-command Hermann Göering announced a self-sufficiency regime, severely limiting imports and discouraging foreign companies. Coca-Cola’s Atlanta-based president Robert Woodruff sought to protect his European business, just as many other U.S. executives did.

Woodruff enlisted a German banking envoy to convince Göering to let him keep exporting flavor syrup to Germany. Keith, meanwhile, began producing much of the syrup he needed domestically, and briefly considered smuggling the remaining ingredients in.

Then in 1937, a rival German soda maker on a trip to the U.S. discovered Coke bottle caps with Hebrew writing on them, indicating they were kosher. The company quickly claimed Coca-Cola was run by Harold Hirsch, a Jew on the American company’s board. German Coke sales plummeted. Keith told Woodruff he should sack Hirsch, but he refused.

So Keith took steps to identify Coke with Nazism, including sending sales teams to mass patriotic events.

“As young men goose-stepped in formation at Hitler Youth rallies,” writes Pendergrast, “Coca-Cola trucks accompanied the marchers, hoping to capture the next generation.”

Keith put Coke at the center — literally — of a 1937 exhibition showcasing Nazi Germany’s industry. He built a working bottling plant in the middle of the fair, where a company photographer snapped Göering enjoying a Coke.


In April 1939, Hitler turned 50, and Coke Germany turned 10. At the celebration, Keith exhorted the crowd for another Sieg-Heil! “to commemorate our deepest admiration and gratitude for our Führer who has led our nation into a brilliant higher sphere.”

That year, Coke sold almost 4.5 million cases in Nazi Germany.

Woodruff kept sending Coke syrup to Keith, too — until America entered the war in December 1941. The U.S. Army declared Keith an enemy, and communications with Woodruff were severed. Keith made sure his dwindling supplies of Coca-Cola only went to hospitals for soldiers who were Nazi Party members.

Coca Cola was exempted from the sugar rations of WWII

Meanwhile, Fanta, labeled as a product of Coca-Cola Germany, kept both the business and the brand alive. In 1941, Keith used his influence to get around the ban on sugar. Thus, Fanta tasted better than rival drinks. Housewives even sweetened soups and stews with it. Fanta sold 3 million cases in 1943.

As the war ended in 1945, “technical observers” with the victorious Allied military took control of Germany’s industry. Keith welcomed the T.O.s, but they refused to employ him, with one calling him “a second Hitler.” Furious but patient, Keith bided his time until the T.O.s began to leave. In 1949, he tricked a T.O. into selling him some expired Coke syrup and used it to bottle his first batch since 1942.

As for Fanta, it’s sold today and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015. Coke released Fanta Classic, a version of the wartime recipe, in the original bottle.

The upbeat ad proclaimed, “75 years ago, resources for our beloved Coke were scarce.” It didn’t explain why. Then: “We are bringing back the feeling of the good old times.” There was an immediate backlash.

Coca-Cola quickly pulled the ad, and told that Fanta “had no association with Hitler or the Nazi Party.” The truth is more complicated. (Timeline)

  During the 1940’s, a Soviet Union Marshal asked Coca-Cola to produce a white, less American Coke.

Marshal Georgy Zhukov of the Soviet Union was apparently a fan of a drink that his compatriots would not approve of so easily. He liked the taste of Coca-Cola, today’s second most widely understood term in the world after “OK” and, back in the marshal’s day, it was also a prevalent symbol of American imperialism in the communist country.

According to the story, the marshal first tasted the Coca-Cola drink around the WWII period, thanks to his coordinate in Europe, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces and the future 34th US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, also fan of the famous soda drink.

The Soviet marshal liked the taste of the drink so much that he allegedly issued a request for manufacturing a unique, colorless and unlabeled variant of the drink, later called “White Coke”. Zhukov was obviously wary of being seen or photographed consuming such a product. He was also creative and playful with his ideas as, according to English journalist and author Tom Standage, he had asked if Coca-Cola could come up with a design package that would resemble a bottle of vodka.

Word traveled a long way. Reportedly, it got through to President Truman thanks to General Mark W. Clark, commander of the US sector of Allied-occupied Austria. From the President’s staff, the request was passed to James Farley, the chairman of the Board of the Coca-Cola Export Corporation.

Circa 1947: James A. Farley reading through a Coca-Cola booklet. (Photo by George Karger/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

During that period, Farley was already looking forward to the opening of the new Coca-Cola bottling plants around Southeast Europe, Austria included. He had delegated the marshal’s special request to Mladin Zarubica, one of Coca-Cola’s top guys in Europe, who was able to get a chemist to eliminate the drink’s artificial coloring and place the now-vodka-clear liquid in a bottle stamped with a red star. 
Mladin Zarubica the technical supervisor of the Coca-Cola team, who had traveled to Austria after WWII to supervise the creation of a larger bottling plant in the country.

Finally, the first shipment of 50 cases of White Coke was made by the Brussels-based Crown Cork and Seal Company. The colorless Cola was bottled in a straight, clear glass and had a white cap with a red star in the middle.

Another peculiar aspect that relates to the whole story is that the Coca-Cola Company was carefree under the customs regulations on route to the Austrian capital, and prior shipment transit through a Soviet occupation zone.

Coke in Space

In 1984, researchers for Coca Cola had an idea about dispensing carbonated beverages in space to give astronauts more choices to drink and also to create a stellar advertising opportunity. The company developed a can that would work in weightlessness to keep the cola fizzy without spewing out of the can. NASA agreed to let the astronauts try the Coke device on a Shuttle flight.

Coca-Cola Can, STS 51-F

Did you know that Coke was the first soft drink to be consumed in outer space?

On July 12, 1985, astronauts tested the “Coca-Cola Space Can” aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. Six years later, on August 26, 1991, the Company and Soviet space agency NPO Energia successfully tested the Coca-Cola Space Can on board the Soviet space station Mir.

The third trip was in February 1995, when diet Coke became the first diet soft drink in space and the Space Shuttle Discovery’s mission marked the first use of soft-drink fountain equipment in space (the Coca-Cola Space Dispenser/Monitor).

On May 19, 1996, another innovative fountain dispenser — serving Coke, diet Coke and sports drink Powerade — was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Price changes

the price of a 6.5-oz glass or bottle of Coca-Cola was 5 cents from 1886 to 1956

the price of a 6.5-oz glass or bottle of Coca-Cola was 6 cents in 1956


How Coca-Cola is made

Coca-cola Santa Claus

Coca-Cola didn’t invent Santa

Coca-Cola did start using Santa in advertising in 1933. But Santa had been portrayed almost exclusively in red from the early 19th century and most of his modern image was put together by cartoonist Thomas Nast in the 1870s. Even if you were to confine your search to Santa in American soft drinks adverts, you would find a thoroughly modern Santa Claus in the posters for White Rock that came out in 1923.

The Legend of Coca-Cola and Santa Claus

Facts About Santa Claus and Coca-Cola

1. Santa Has Been Featured in Coke Ads Since the 1920s

The Coca-Cola Company began its Christmas advertising in the 1920s with shopping-related ads in magazines like The Saturday Evening Post. The first Santa ads used a strict-looking Claus, in the vein of Thomas Nast.


In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department-store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke. The ad featured the world’s largest soda fountain, which was located in the department store Famous Barr Co. in St. Louis, Mo. Mizen’s painting was used in print ads that Christmas season, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in December 1930.

Fred Mizen

2. Coca-Cola Helped Shape the Image of Santa

In 1931 the company began placing Coca-Cola ads in popular magazines. Archie Lee, the D’Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coca-Cola Company, wanted the campaign to show a wholesome Santa who was both realistic and symbolic. So Coca-Cola commissioned Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus — showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa.


For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (commonly called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”). Moore’s description of St. Nick led to an image of a warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human Santa. (And even though it’s often said that Santa wears a red coat because red is the color of Coca-Cola, Santa appeared in a red coat before Sundblom painted him.)

The Poem

A Visit from St. Nicholas


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,

Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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.

Sundblom Santa paintings

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. The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coca-Cola advertising in magazines and on store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and plush dolls. Many of those items today are popular collectibles.

Sundblom created his final version of Santa Claus in 1964, but for several decades to follow, Coca-Cola advertising featured images of Santa based on Sundblom’s original works. These paintings are some of the most prized pieces in the art collection in the company’s archives department and have been on exhibit around the world, infamous locales including the Louvre in Paris, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Isetan Department Store in Tokyo, and the NK Department Store in Stockholm. Many of the original paintings can be seen on display at World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Ga.

3. The “New Santa” Was Based on a Salesman

In the beginning, Sundblom painted the image of Santa using a live model — his friend Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman. When Prentiss passed away, Sundblom used himself as a model, painting while looking into a mirror. Finally, he began relying on photographs to create the image of St. Nick.

People loved the Coca-Cola Santa images and paid such close attention to them that when anything changed, they sent letters to The Coca-Cola Company. One year, Santa’s large belt was backwards (perhaps because Sundblom was painting via a mirror). Another year, Santa Claus appeared without a wedding ring, causing fans to write asking what happened to Mrs. Claus.

The children who appear with Santa in Sundblom’s paintings were based on Sundblom’s neighbors — two little girls. So he changed one to a boy in his paintings.

The dog in Sundblom’s 1964 Santa Claus painting was actually a gray poodle belonging to the neighborhood florist. But Sundblom wanted the dog to stand out in the holiday scene, so he painted the animal with black fur.

4. Santa Claus Got a New Friend in 1942

In 1942, Coca-Cola introduced “Sprite Boy,” a character who appeared with Santa Claus in Coca-Cola advertising throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Sprite Boy, who was also created by Sundblom, got his name due to the fact that he was a sprite, or an elf. (It wasn’t until the 1960s that Coca-Cola introduced the popular beverage Sprite.)

5. Santa Became Animated in 2001

In 2001, the artwork from Sundblom’s 1963 painting was the basis for an animated TV commercial starring the Coca-Cola Santa. The ad was created by Academy Award-winning animator Alexandre Petrov.

Unusual Uses for Coca-Cola

The list

1. Remove grease stains from clothing and fabric (I had to start there)

2. Remove rust; methods include using fabric dipped in Coke, a sponge or even aluminum foil.

3. Remove blood stains from clothing and fabric.

4. Make gooey Coke funnel cakes .

5. Clean oil stains from a garage floor; let the stain soak, hose off.

6. Loosen a rusty bolt; pour on some Coke and wait for the magic to happen.

7. Kill slugs and snails; a small bowl of Coke will attract them, the acid will kill them.

8. Help a lawn become lush and green (see my lawn tonic article here )

9. Prevent an asthma attack! Apparently, the caffeine in two 12oz cans can prevent the onset of an attack.

10. Defrost a frozen windshield. Apply liberally and wait (I’ll see if this works in winter)

11. Clean burnt pans; let the pan soak in the Coke, then rinse.

12. Descale a kettle using the same method in 11.

13. Neutralize a jellyfish sting.

14. Clean car battery terminals by pouring a small amount of Coke over each one.

15. Cure nausea; let a can of Coke go flat then take a teaspoon of Coke every hour.

16. Also, flat coke can help relieve an upset stomach (aka “the runs”)

17. Make a Mentos & Coke exploding fountain. This one takes a 2-liter bottle of Coke.

18. Get rid of hiccups; gargle with a big mouthful of ice-cold Coke.

19. Shake up a can and pour it over your windshield to remove bugs and other crud.

20. Use the method in 19 for your car bumpers, too.

21. Clean your engine; Coke distributors have been using this technique for decades.

22. Relieve congestion; boil and a can of Coke and drink while hot to clear you up.

23. Make a sweet BBQ sauce. Mix a can of Coke with ketchup and brush over ribs or chicken.

24. Baste a ham roast with Coke as it cooks. The sugars will caramelize; the ham will be moist.

25. Add a can of coke to your pot roast to tenderize it and add extra flavor. (Thanks Linsey).

26. Make pretty pennies; soaking old pennies in Coke will remove the tarnish.

27. Make your hair curly; pour flat Coke onto long hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse.

28. Age documents and photos; for that antique look, apply Coke, pat with paper, leave to dry.

29. Clean tile grout; pour onto kitchen floor, leave for a few minutes, wipe up.

30. Mix a can of Coke with a packet of Italian seasoning; cook a tough steak in it.

31. Make better compost; Coke increases the acidity, adds sugars and feeds microorganisms.

32. Dissolve a tooth in it; Use a sealed container, this takes ages. Why would you want to though, unless you’re Hannibal Lecter?

33. Remove gum from hair; dip into a small bowl of Coke, leave a few minutes. Gum will wipe off.

34. Get silky skin; mix a spoonful of Coke with regular lotion and apply liberally.

35. Make low-fat brownies .

36. Pour a little in a cup and set it out an hour before a picnic, away from your site; it will attract wasps and bees so they’re not bugging you and your grub.

37. Remove stains from vitreous china. More info on vitreous materials here .

38. Got a dirty pool? Add two 2-liter bottles of Coke to clear up the water (it acts as rust remover).

39. Add Coke to your laundry to remove bad smells, especially fish.

40. Remove (or fade) dye from hair by pouring diet Coke over it.

41. Mop a floor with Coke to make it sticky. It’s a movie industry trick to stop actors slipping.

42. Remove marker stains from carpet. Apply Coke, scrub, then clean with soapy water.

43. Clean a toilet; pour around bowl, leave for a while, flush clean.

44. Apply to skin for a deep tan (although this seems like a recipe for skin cancer to me).

45. Supposedly, drinking an 8oz can of Coke every day can prevent kidney stones.

46. Add it to a Sloppy Joe mix

47. Perk up your Azaleas or Gardenias.

48. Coke and aluminum foil will bring Chrome to a high shine.

49. Strip paint off metal furniture; soak a towel in Coke, sit it on the surface for days. Make sure you keep adding Coke to keep the towel wet. (Seems like a hassle, I’d rather buy paint stripper.)

50. Add it to vodka, rum or bourbon. 51. Drink it straight from the can, if you can (too sweet for me)

There you have it, the History of Coca-Cola! I hope that I was able to tell you something that you didn’t know about Coke. I know that this post took me a week to Research and verify. There were plenty of things that I didn’t know. If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to leave a Comment, share it, and Subscribe to my Page. Thanks for Reading! I look forward to seeing and hearing from you real soon!

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