The Deleted Scene From ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ You Won’t See on TV
A Charlie Brown Christmas is a beloved holiday classic. But did you know that the version of the special you see on TV isn’t exactly the same as the one that first aired in 1965? It turns out that the 30-minute cartoon originally included a now-deleted scene that refers to the program’s sponsor, as a recent article from PopCulture.com reminded us.
‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ originally included an ad for Coca-Cola
One reason that people love A Charlie Brown Christmas is that it pushes back against the rampant commercialization of the holiday season. The special aims to remind viewers of “what Christmas is all about” through Linus’ memorable speech, where he tells the story of the birth of Jesus.
Given that anti-commercial message, modern viewers might be surprised to learn that when the cartoon first aired, it included a pretty prominent plug for the show’s original sponsor: the Coca-Cola Company.
Brian Cronin drew attention to the special’s origins in a 2015 article for HuffPost. A Charlie Brown Christmas opens with a scene of many of the Peanuts characters ice skating on a frozen pond. This sequence includes a moment where Snoopy spins both Linus and Charlie Brown off the ice.
In the version that airs now, we see Charlie Brown hit a snow-covered tree just before the show’s title appears on the screen. But we never see what happens to Linus. That’s because in the original cartoon, Linus crashes into a sign that reads “Brought to you by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola.”
The 1965 cartoon also ended with a voiceover saying “Merry Christmas from your local Coca-Cola bottler” as the Peanuts gang sang “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
The story of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’
In an interview published on the Coca-Cola website, Lee Mendelson, who produced the iconic special, recalled the circumstances the led to the making of the cartoon. He had made a documentary about Peanuts creator Charles Schulz but had struggled to find a buyer for it. However, someone at the advertising agency McCann-Erickson saw the film and reached out. He explained that Coca-Cola would be interested in collaborating on a Christmas show.
Schulz, Mendelson, and director Bill Melendez put the entire special together in just three months. Once they finished it, the response wasn’t exactly enthusiastic.
[A]fter we finished the show, all of us thought we’d ruined Charlie Brown because we thought it was too slow,” Mendelson explained. “We took it to the network, and they thought it was too slow. McCann and Coca-Cola did, too. It was unanimous. Nobody thought it was going to work.”
“We only expected it to be on once and then never be heard from again,” he added.
But when A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on CBS in December 1965, the reaction wasn’t what anyone expected. In an era when there were only three major networks, millions of Americans watched as Charlie Brown struggled to find his Christmas spirit. And they loved the story, with many people taking the time to write to Coca-Cola about how much they enjoyed it. The special that its creators thought would air only once has been shown on TV every year since.
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