The Charlie Brown Christmas special stunted the popularity of fake trees
Good going, Blockhead! No, really – good job, Charlie Brown!
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Introduced in the late 1950s, aluminum Christmas trees hit peak popularity in the mid-'60s. And then A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on December 9, 1965.
Viewers took to heart Charlie Brown's message about the true meaning of Christmas. The boy finds a scrawny little sapling and chooses the real tree over the artificial options. Critics and audiences adored the animated holiday special, the first cartoon special based on the Peanuts newspaper strip. More than 40% of all television sets were tuned into the broadcast to watch it.
Artificial trees sales saw rapid declines in the latter half of the decade. Inspired by Charlie Brown, Americans turned to real trees.
Fake trees met many demands of the modern household when they were first created. In fact, immediately after World War II, fake trees were quite prevalent in living rooms. The "brush bristle" style had been introduced in the 1930s by companies like Sears.
The silvery garland wound itself like a snake around these phony spruces. For an added touch of holiday cheer, the catalog even shipped the trees in a white wooden bucket.
Of course, no aluminum tree was complete without a rotating color wheel. The spotlight turned your Christmas scene into a veritable discotheque. We reached peak "Fake Tree Phase" here in the early 1960s. That would all change with a classic, charming Christmas special.
Nowadays, the vote is split on which kind of tree is a better option but is currently leaning toward a more organic holiday approach. The National Christmas Tree Association reported that in 2018, real tree purchases in the United States were up by 20% despite the 4% increase in average prices compared to 2017. That year, 32.8 million real Christmas trees were purchased for an average of $78. In the same year, 23.6 million fake trees were also purchased at an average price of $104 per tree.
Whichever tree you choose, just remember that to make it look shiny and new, Linus reminds us that "all it needs is a little love."