Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’: Why the Movie’s Opening Scene Was Changed

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’: Why the Movie’s Opening Scene Was Changed

If you catch A Charlie Brown Christmas in its current format, then you’d be hard-pressed to see how changes were made in the opening scene. But these changes appear to be on the subtle side and for a good reason.

We’re all used to seeing those kids ice skating outside as the snow falls. Plus, we also see Charlie Brown and Linus head toward the gang. But they get intercepted by Snoopy, who then grabs Linus’ blanket. The dog ends up getting tangled up in the blanket and that, in turn, involves Charlie Brown and Linus. Those two kids go spinning out across the ice and snow. Charlie Brown goes one way, while Linus goes another.

So, Charlie slides into a sign and knocks off the snow around it. When he does, it reads, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Linus smacks into a sign himself, but this one says, “Brought to you by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola.” See, the cartoon was sponsored by Coca-Cola back in 1965, when it first aired.

‘Charlie Brown’ Special Has Scenes Tweaked

These and other details about scenes missing from this beloved holiday favorite were highlighted in an article for The Huffington Post back in 2017, PopCulture reports. Another edit was made as the show ended. The kids gather to sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” in the initial showing. At the time, a narrator’s voice came on and said, “Merry Christmas from your local Coca-Cola bottler.”

Because sponsors getting noticed on TV programs was a big deal back then, Coca-Cola had snagged this spot for itself. Yet in 1966, Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon, made a deal with Dolly Madison snack cakes to also sponsor a different Peanuts cartoon. But they didn’t want Coca-Cola to be the only brand highlighted on A Charlie Brown Christmas. That led to the first edit or scene-changing actions to take place.

At this time, having a single sponsor for a TV show became way too expensive. Ultimately, the scenes featuring shout-outs to Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison were edited out. More sponsors came on board to get in on the audience draw that the show brings in every year.

Single Sponsors Used To Be Rule, Not Exception

It’s interesting to catch classic TV show reruns because there was a time when singular sponsors received special attention. A show’s stars were known to sometimes do extra sketches featuring a sponsor’s item. As an example, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was, at one time, a sponsor for The Beverly Hillbillies. The cast of that show would be seen driving into Beverly Hills, and Jed (Buddy Ebsen) and Jethro (Max Baer) point to a sign. Viewers would then see the product advertised.

Television took this practice from radio’s heyday. Sponsors would have their own shows, such as the Kraft Music Hall. A singer or actor would host the show, maybe getting recognition for themselves. Give a listen to some old-school radio shows and you can tell which ones had powerful sponsors.

But that’s all changed now. Multiple sponsors pop up on shows all over the world today. The practice of singular sponsors is a bygone tradition that no longer works.