Who Is This Red-Nosed Reindeer Anyway?

Rudolph book by Bob MayEver wondered how a red-nosed reindeer ever came to be part of the Christmas scene? Me too!

There are a couple of accounts of how it happened, including a story started in 2001. In that version, Rudolph’s creator, Bob May, related the tale in order to comfort his daughter when he learned his wife would die of cancer just before Christmas.

Although this heart-tugging version contains many elements told later by Bob himself, the truth of how Rudolph got his start is not quite so dramatic. According to May, in 1938 he was called into his supervisor’s office at Montgomery Ward and asked to come up with a Christmas promotion aimed at children. His boss requested that it have something to do with animals.

Inspired by his daughter’s fascination with the deer at the zoo, Bob got to work. After several rejected versions, he finalized the now famous account of the red-nosed reindeer. In August of 1939, a month after his loosing his wife to cancer, he presented the story to his employer. Montgomery Ward printed and distributed the resulting pop-up book to children who came to the store to see Santa Claus, and the brave misfit deer has been with us ever since.

Source: Urban Legends – The True Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

My favorite song from the NBC 1964 version of the story:

And the most adorable and delicious cookies ever:

Reindeer Cookies

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugarReindeer Cookies
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Chocolate-covered mini pretzels
  • Mini brown M&Ms
  • Regular-sized red M&Ms

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, milk, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg; beat until just blended.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. To make reindeer-shaped cookies, pinch the bottom of the ball slightly to form a point, then gently flatten with your hand. Space cookies about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until set or just beginning to brown.

Remove from oven and immediately (and gently) press two mini pretzels into the tops of the cookies for the reindeer’s antlers. Press two mini brown M&Ms in for the eyes and one red M&M for the nose (or any other color… some of mine ended up with green noses. They might be South Pole reindeer.).

Allow to cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack or paper towel to cool completely.

Makes about 40 reindeer cookies.


3 thoughts on “Who Is This Red-Nosed Reindeer Anyway?

  1. Rebecca

    Awww! That’s so sweet! Love the post!. I’m a serious Rudolph fan, especailly the 1964 movie version. Those cookies sound yummy too. BTW, the green nose on the raindeer makes sense – it’s summertime in the southern hemisphere! Can’t imagine celebrating Christmas while wearing shorts, but I’m willing to give it a try!


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