SWEET TALK – BAD CANDY SANTAS AND OTHER CHRISTMAS DELIGHTS

Santa has never looked better, which is good... because he often looks seriously worse.

Santa has never looked better, which is good… because he often looks seriously worse.

Christmas and candy just go together… there are sugar plums, lollipops, peppermints, sticky ribbon candy, and giant light-up candy canes adorning our front lawns. And where there is Christmas candy, that ambassador of good cheer, Santa Claus, cannot be far away. When you consider how quickly a star’s public image can take a bad turn, it only makes sense that maintaining Santa’s image over the decades has been… well, a struggle, to say the least. In celebration of the holiday, we examine this rocky relationship.

Our story opens with the image we see above: this is the Santa that we all know and love — at the top of his game in a 1952 Brach’s candy ad. This is the ideal Santa that we all picture in our minds, ready to spring a sparkling snowfall of candy on good boys and girls.

Well, it’s one thing to paint a glorious Santa, however….

Poor Santa caught after dipping into one egg nog too many.

Poor Santa caught after dipping into one egg nog too many.


…it’s apparently much more of a challenge to sculpt a plastic Santa. His image has gone awry more often than not in the hands of sincere, but lesser craftsmen – therefore, the gamut of plastic Santas encompasses the good, the bad, and the… peculiar.

Now I understand that Santa’s a happy guy, but why did the E. Rosen Candy Company have to immortalize him on the ONE NIGHT that he drank way too much eggnog at the annual Christmas party?  Couldn’t they have rescheduled for the next morning? Give the poor guy a break.

Santa tries to make a quick exit from Mommy's house.

Santa tries to make a quick exit from Mommy’s house.

And what about that fateful night when Mommy was kissing Santa Claus? We all know about it, but did the paparazzi have to catch him rushing out of the house before he even had a chance to compose himself? Much like the pizza guy, Santa just has to deal with this occupational hazard. This is just not right.

Santa’s public image has always reflected the times, so who can blame him for looking just a little pissed off in this Whitman’s candy ad from World War I seen below? Let’s face it, the war was a major bummer, and the best that anyone could offer you was “Munitions of Happiness” and “The Cheeriest Christmas POSSIBLE?” Let’s just be glad that this Christmas is behind us.

Could this be the most depressing Christmas ever?

Could this be the most depressing Christmas ever?

A playful elf gives Santa a mischievous version of the Christmas goose.

A playful elf gives Santa a mischievous version of the Christmas goose.

Now, Santa might be a saint, but he does hang around with those fun-loving elves all year, so was not Santa’s fault that he was caught in this compromising position on one particularly playful Christmas Eve! We’ve all heard of the Christmas goose, but apparently this little guy had something a bit different in mind. ———–>

The member of the Claus family not often mentioned, Uncle Stinko.

The member of the Claus family not often mentioned, Uncle Stinko.

And although Santa does his best to stay on top of his schedule during the holiday season, it’s next to impossible to keep up on all the publicity events, so you have to excuse the times he got his poor, down-on-his luck Uncle Stinko to be his stand-in as a cheap candy container. It made sense at the time… you can hear the conversation: “Hey, the kids are going to tear this open and throw it in the trash. Who’s going to notice? It’s not like people are going to be STUDYING this 50 years later, right?”

Perhaps the least-popular Christmas Pez dispenser.

Perhaps the least-popular Christmas Pez dispenser.

Of course, Santa always has Mrs. Claus to rely on as a public relations backup… but let’s face it… she’s a perfectly nice person… nothing against her… but she’s a bit of a buzz kill… and simply lacks the charisma of THE MAN himself. When you reach for Pez, you want a little more pizzazz.

Fortunately for all of us, for every mis-step and sad substitution, there’s a Jolly Santa Face right around the corner, delivering to us exactly what we want along with a BIG OL’ HUNK OF GUM when we get stressed during the holiday season, and we need a little Christmas right this very minute.

Leave it to Fleer to offer a crazed magenta Santa head to chew on in honor of the holiday.

Leave it to Fleer to offer a crazed magenta Santa head to chew on in honor of the holiday.

So, the next time somebody takes a terrible picture of you this holiday season and you beg them to trash it… remember the plight of poor Santa. Year after year, he takes a beating, and sure, he does have a whole year to recover… but come December, he dusts off his boots, pulls on his suit, and comes dashing out to greet us with a big Whitman’s Sampler, a merry “HO, HO, HO!”, and he is ready to make everything right.

Santa reminds you of what's really important this time of year: Do your Christmas shopping early.

Santa reminds you of what’s really important this time of year: Do your Christmas shopping early.

As a holiday bonus, I’ve posted a link to my “multimedia presentation” of this article at Pasadena’s Allendale Branch Library this year for their Allendale Holiday Literary Festival and Tree Lighting ceremony.

As an extra extra holiday bonus, the photo gallery that concludes this article also includes images of some of my favorite Christmas decorations that help make the season bright.

For more Christmas candy memories, visit

 

Darlene Lacey

About Darlene Lacey

Darlene is the author of "Classic Candy: America's Favorite Sweets, 1950-80" and curator of the Candy Wrapper Museum, which is comprised of her personal collection which she began as a teenager in the 70s. The CWM has been featured in numerous TV shows, magazines, newspapers and blogs, and made its art gallery debut in 2010 at the Scion Space's "Palate" show.
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