Haddon Sundblom
Haddon Hubbard Sundblom

June 22, 1899
Muskegon, Michigan, United States
DiedMarch 10, 1976(1976-03-10) (aged 76)
United States

Haddon Hubbard "Sunny" Sundblom (June 22, 1899 – March 10, 1976) was an American artist of Finnish and Swedish descent and best known for the images of Santa Claus he created for The Coca-Cola Company. Sundblom's friend Lou Prentice was the original model for the illustrator's Santa.[1]


Sundblom was born in Muskegon, Michigan, to a Swedish-speaking family. His father, Karl Wilhelm Sundblom, came from the farm Norrgårds in the village of Sonnboda in Föglö, Åland Islands, then part of the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland now Finland, and his mother Karin Andersson was from Sweden. Sundblom studied at the American Academy of Art.


Sundblom is best remembered for his advertising work, specifically the Santa Claus advertisement. It was he who drew Santa Claus in a red suit during the twenties when he painted for The Coca-Cola Company, starting in 1931.[2][3] Sundblom's Claus firmly established the larger-than-life, grandfatherly Claus as a key figure in American Christmas imagery. So popular were Sundblom's images of Claus (Sundblom's images are used by Coca-Cola to this day) that Sundblom is often wrongly credited as having created the modern image of Santa Claus.[4]

According to the Coca-Cola company:[5][6] "For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clarke 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 Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human. For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa that helped to create the modern image of Santa – an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world." Sundblom's family most likely also got Christmas greetings sent from Sweden and Finland, Åland. The cards in Sweden and Swedish speaking Finland had motives painted by Jenny Nyström of a friendly and charming "jultomte" (Santa) dressed in red and white.

In 1942 Sundblom created Coke's mascot Sprite Boy, who appeared in print ads during the 1940s and 1950s.[7]

Also in 1942 he was the artist for an iconic WWII United States Marine Corps recruitment poster. In it, a Marine Sergeant stands at ease with a headline that reads, "Ready - Join U.S. Marines Land Sea Air" and the copy continues at the bottom with, "Apply, or write, to nearest recruiting station."[8]

Quaker Oats asked Sundblom to update their logo in 1957. He provided the colorful head-and-shoulders version which was on their packaging until 1969, when it was made over in blue and white by Saul Bass.[9]

Sundblom is recognized as a major influence on many well known pin-up artists, such as Harold W. McCauley, Gil Elvgren, Andrew Loomis, Edward Runci, Joyce Ballantyne, Art Frahm, and Harry Ekman. In the mid-1930s, he began to paint pin-ups and glamour pieces for calendars. Sundblom's last assignment, in 1972, was a cover painting for Playboy's Christmas issue which included a short bio with his photo.


  1. ^ Francis, Judy (11 Dec 2016). "Even Santa, it turns out, went better with Coke". Tribune-Star. Retrieved 2 Apr 2021.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ https://www.coca-colacompany.com/company/history/five-things-you-never-knew-about-santa-claus-and-coca-cola
  3. ^ "Image Gallery Santa 1931". Press Center. Coca Cola Company. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  4. ^ "The Claus That Refreshes". Article from Snopes.com — Urban Legends Reference Pages.
  5. ^ "Coke Lore"
  6. ^ Michigan's Coca-Cola Santa Claus Archived October 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ “Sprite Boy” model sheet Archived 2011-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Ready - Join U.S. Marines Land Sea Air". Hennepin County Library. Retrieved 2 Apr 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Haddon Sundblom". Norman Rockwell Museum. Retrieved 2 April 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)

See also