Soft-drink rivals fight over Santa

Rival soft-drinks companies are at war over which was responsible for the modern image of Santa Claus.

Coca-Cola claimed artist Haddon Sundblom created Santa's image for the brand; it debuted in a 1931 print ad in US titles including National Geographic.

But US company White Rock said it used a fat, white-whiskered red- and white-clad Santa in newspaper and magazine ads as early as 1915.

Larry Bodkin, president of White Rock Beverages, said: 'For Coke to perpetuate this myth for so long is abominable. It has co-opted Claus and it wouldn't surprise me to hear it was trying to claim it created the Easter Bunny too.'

Although the red-and-white-suited, bearded Santa is the most widely recognised image, over the centuries he has been depicted as everything from an elf to a tall, gaunt man.

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