Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer First Appeared In A?
Answer: Coloring Book
Although it’s hard to imagine the Christmas season without Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, every Christmas tradition has a start somewhere and once upon a time there was no Rudolph to speak of. In fact, Rudolph is a recent addition to the canon of Christmas traditions; the plucky little reindeer got his start back in 1939 courtesy of copywriter Robert May.
May was tasked with creating a holiday coloring book for the Montgomery Ward department store to distribute to children for the holiday season. He cooked up a tale and accompanying illustrations centered on Santa’s ninth reindeer: a misfit named Rudolph who was mocked for his glowing red nose until it saved the day and helped Santa guide his sleigh on a snowy Christmas eve.
The coloring book was an immediate success and that holiday alone the store passed out 2.5 million copies. It remained popular in the ensuing years and in 1949 Gene Autry first sang the now famous Christmas single Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (since the single was released it has sold over 150 million copies). Rudolph became even more famous thanks to the 1964 stop-motion film that, despite it’s surreal elements, remains one of the most popular Christmas specials of all time.
All told, Rudolph has had an astoundingly good run for a story originally intended just as a one-off coloring book giveaway.
Image courtesy of Montgomery Ward.