It was 1955, and Christmas was approaching, and Sears had a new idea for a yuletide gimmick. In local newspapers, the department store placed ads ... on behalf of Santa himself.
"HEY, KIDDIES!" the ad read, in a greeting that would seem creepy only in retrospect. "Call me on my private phone and I will talk to you personally any time day or night."
The ads then listed local numbers for area children to call to get some one-on-one Kringle time. Which must have seemed, if you were a kid back then, pretty amazing. A direct line to St. Nick! Kids could, finally, bypass the middlemen that stood between them and their gifts—the Post Office, their parents—and go directly to the source. And, even more directly, to that source's enormous bag of loot. You can almost hear the Ralphie Parker voice-over.