‘Tis the season for gift giving and merry making, and no one is more prominently featured in historic Alaska newspapers as the symbol of generosity (and consumerism!) than Santa Claus. It is well documented that the Coca-Cola corporation popularized (but did not invent) the modern image of Santa Claus in a red suit, due to Haddon Sundblom’s artwork (who also created the artwork for the Quaker oats Quaker and Aunt Jemima), but Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas gave us the image of the jolly man with white whiskers:
“…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 peddler just opened 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 of 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 round little belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself…”
Without further ado, enjoy a sampling of Santa Claus imagery in Alaska’s historic newspapers: