‘Elf’ Director Jon Favreau Reveals an Easter Egg He Included as a Nod To a Classic Christmas Movie

“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” 

Fans of the seasonal favorite, Elf, know Buddy (Will Ferrell) as a man who grew up at the North Pole after climbing into Santa’s sleigh as an orphaned baby. Never able to fit in, adult Buddy journeys to New York City, New York, in search of his family. Along the way, he injects some Christmas cheer into the city and his family, all while wearing his elf uniform.  

Will Ferrell, James Caan, and Jon Favreau at the premiere of 'Elf'
Will Ferrell, James Caan, and Jon Favreau at the premiere of ‘Elf’ | James Devaney/WireImage

Since Elf hit theaters on Nov. 7, 2003, it’s become a go-to holiday movie. Come December 1, it’s quoted often. There are regular broadcasts leading up to Christmas Day and Elf merchandise lining store shelves.

Even the biggest Elf fans may not know director, Jon Favreau, snuck in an Easter egg having to do with another holiday movie. It all started with Buddy’s department store job and the possibility of filming scenes in Macy’s flagship Manhattan store. 

Macy’s didn’t want to be associated with fake Santa scene in ‘Elf’ 

“You sit on a throne of lies” is the oft-quoted line Buddy says to a department store Santa (Artie Lange) when he discovers he’s not the Santa he grew up with at the North Pole.

In the memorable scene, Buddy gets so upset that this man is an imposter Santa that he winds up in a fight with him. Children who showed up to see Santa are horrified.

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In the process, Buddy and the fake Santa destroy the toy department and all of the over-the-top decorations Buddy made earlier in the movie. 

Reflecting on the memorable movie moment with Rotten Tomatoes in 2019, Favreau explained that they almost filmed the scene at Macy’s. But the department store wasn’t keen on playing host to a scene with a fake Santa. 

“We’d originally hoped to shoot in Macy’s. And Macy’s was actually really open to the idea of us shooting there, and even saying that maybe we could participate in the parade,” he said. “However, the one stipulation was that we could not say that there was a fake Santa in Macy’s.”

“So that’s part of their brand and people go to their Santaland every year, and they didn’t wanna blow it for young kids. Which I get,” he added. 

After Macy’s said no to Elf using their store Favreau had to go back to the drawing board. 

Jon Favreau had Buddy work at Gimbels instead

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With Macy’s out, Favreau and the rest of the team behind Elf had to come up with another department store to employ Buddy. After some thought, Favreau settled on another iconic store, Gimbels.

“So, we kept thinking about, what could it be? [When] I grew up there was always Macy’s and Gimbels,” he said. “Of course, Gimbels is featured in Miracle on 34th Street, so it’s a bit of an Easter egg for Christmas movie fans.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Gimbels closed its doors in 1986 after being rivals with Macy’s for 76 years. The 1994 remake didn’t reference Gimbels but rather a fictional store called Cole’s. 

Elf fans can head into the holiday season knowing the hilarious and maple-syrup-filled movie gave a little nod to Miracle on 34th Street.