If it weren’t for Clement Clarke Moore, we might be leaving Santa Claus carrots instead of cookies on Christmas.

Santa Claus wasn’t always fat. In fact, the inspiration for Santa, St. Nicholas, was a thin man. It was Moore, an Episcopal minister famous for the 1822 poem “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” who gave Santa the generous waistline.

Moore wrote the poem, more commonly known as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” for his three daughters. He wrote:

“The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.”

It was this description that influenced the political cartoonist, who drew Santa like this:


These works are what made Santa the jolly, fat figure that we know today.