However, Sundblom’s choice to represent Father Christmas this way was not influenced by the company's history. In fact, it was Dutch emigrants who initially brought their Sinterklaas tradition to Nieuw Amsterdam (today New York) back in the 1700s. Over the course of time, Sinterklaas changed to Santa Claus, as did his varying appearance – sometimes he’d be depicted as a rotund elf, sometimes as an old bearded man with a long pipe, huge breeches and an enormous wide-brimmed hat. Whatever his appearance, however, he stood for the custom of spreading joy during the Christmas season. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that the image of the typical Santa Claus developed, partially due to the enormous efforts of Coca-Cola.
So were Lindt & Sprüngli’s rights to their trade mark and interpretation of Santa washed away by the brown carbonated soft drink? Coca-Cola can’t be completely absolved from suspicion. Although the FAC acknowledged in its judgment certain cultural differences between German-speaking countries – in particular, the different names such as Father Christmas, St. Nicholas and Santa Claus and their corresponding customs – the commonality between them is obviously their appearance. As the FAC pointed out: “The two and three-dimensional elements of the shape applied for correspond to the usual cliché of Santa Claus.”
And the moral of the story? Well, the more mischievous among us could give a nod and a wink to Santa’s appearance by changing the rhyming verse to:
Ho ho ho, Santa, jolly old man,
Can I have a Cola this year, but in a can?
But what child wants to know why the jolly white-bearded man looks the way he does? As long as the man in red reaches into his big sack of brightly wrapped gifts and spreads a little joy, that’s probably all that matters!
Ho ho ho…
And on this note, we wish you all a wonderful festive season and happy holidays.