How Did This Famous Department Store Create Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
Who can answer this question and more importantly, why the question is even necessary? Let’s look at Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer for a minute. The first mention of this cartoon character comes from an article in the St. Petersburg Times, printed Aug 14, 1931.
It was written by George Bennett, who also created the famous “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” television show. In this article he was comparing the shop where he worked with the Holiday Express shop in Tampa, Florida. He wrote: “I saw an advert for the store that I had worked at some time ago. There were boxes of toys which had the name of a popular cartoon character on them, and one of those toys was named Rudolph. I don’t know whether it was intended to be a humorous jibe at our company or whether it had been simply a coincidence, but I can assure you that I never worked with that particular store again.”
Department stores certainly didn’t create this particular character. Holiday Express wasn’t a department store then, but a Holiday Company. It is now a part of Wal-Mart. The similarity between the two stores and the way both companies portrayed Christmas are a direct result of the way in which they were run.
Rudolph was first created by an animated reindeer called “Red-Nosed Reindeer.” In that series, he was shown as being mean and greedy, and generally being the bad guy. The Christmas specials of those shows are the basis for the TV series, too. So, the question which department store created Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer? Believe it or not, it was Holiday Express.
Holiday Express was owned by the Hasbro corporation at the time. Holiday cards, which were distributed by that company, featured pictures of this reindeer. The commercials that they produced for the holiday were the basis for the famous song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Did the Hasbro production group that created the commercial have any influence on the creation of this popular Christmas story? I doubt it.
However, Holiday Express did have one artist who did have an impact. Art director Lee Curtis had a penchant for whimsicality when it came to creating Christmas card art. He produced one of the most beautifully designed Christmas card sets that I have ever seen. He also designed one of the most famous Christmas album covers. Was Holiday Express responsible for making the red-nosed reindeer a household name? I don’t think so.