The holiday season, like the Super Bowl, is one of the few times where people actually look forward to seeing which commercials will interrupt their favorite shows. In addition to premiering fresh content each year, companies lean into holiday nostalgia by using the same cozy commercials over and over again. Some, like Hershey’s Kisses’s “Christmas Bells,” continue to run today; others that no longer air, such as the 1993 TV debut of the Coca-Cola polar bears, still had a lasting effect on holiday advertisements. Here are seven beloved commercials that have stood the test of time and remain Christmas classics.
1. Folgers Coffee’s “Peter Comes Home for Christmas” // 1986
Peter first first came home for Christmas in 1986 in this feel-good Folgers ad. According to Greg Wrangler, the actor who played Peter, the original commercial aired for nearly 20 years. Folgers came out with a new version of the 1986 ad in 2009, in which a different Peter comes home to a very excited sister; that commercial went viral due to what viewers deemed was an unusually intimate relationship between the siblings.
2. Budweiser’s “Holiday Greetings” // 1987
The Budweiser Clydesdales have starred in many a commercial since the 1980s. In this heartwarming advertisement, the giant equines dash through the snow to deliver a giant Christmas tree. It’s a classic Budweiser commercial that many still look back on with nostalgia.
3. Hershey's Kisses’s “Christmas Bells” // 1989
No cable Christmas movie marathon would be complete without at least one performance of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” by this tree-shaped chocolate ensemble. It’s the candy company’s longest-running commercial, and it has quite the fan base: In 2020, Hershey’s faced backlash after debuting “Bells to Blossoms,” an updated version of the classic ad (the company confirmed that “Bells to Blossoms” was not a replacement for the original, saying it intended to air both versions during the holiday season).
4. Corona Extra’s “O’ Tannenpalm” // 1990
Corona’s 32-year-old beer commercial adds a tropical twist to Christmas. A palm tree decorated with festive string lights dazzles in the darkness while a person off-screen whistles the tune of “O’ Tannenbaum” (also known as “O’ Christmas Tree”). It’s a peaceful commercial, but it was actually quite stressful to film, thanks to all the alligators lurking nearby. “We had to have alligator wranglers scoop the alligators and keep them out of the way. The cameraman was petrified, so we promised him he could go out there and set up the shot, and then escape,” Mike Rogers, the advertisement’s creator, once explained.
5. Campbell’s Soup’s “Melting Snowman”// 1993
This cozy commercial was a staple of the ‘90s and aughts. As the shivering snowman huddles over a bowl of steaming hot soup, he slowly melts to reveal a young boy ready to tuck into his dinner. According to The Drum, the commercial was created to evoke the warm feelings that often accompany a snowy day for both parents and kids.
6. Coca-Cola’s “Northern Lights” // 1993
Polar bears have popped up in Coca-Cola advertisements since the 1920s, but they didn’t appear on television until 1993. In this commercial—which is admittedly more about winter than the holiday season—they admire the Northern Lights while sipping icy bottles of soda. Ken Stewart, the commercial’s creator, was inspired by his Labrador retriever, who, as a puppy, resembled a fluffy polar bear. The Arctic beasts have since been featured in other Coca-Cola commercials, with admittedly better animation as the years went on.
7. M&M’s “Faint” // 1996
Santa can withstand a lot of magical things—flying reindeer, elves, traveling the world at an impossibly fast speed—but the existence of talking candy was simply too much for jolly Old Saint Nick to handle in this 1996 M&M’s commercial. In 2017, the company aired a sequel to the original ad, which showed Yellow attempting to save Christmas while Red and Santa were rendered incapacitated by the shock of their encounter.