19 interesting and festive details you probably missed in ‘Elf’

Will Ferrell starred in ‘Elf.’ Warner Bros.
  • “Elf” is a Christmas staple, but even fans who’ve seen it dozens of times may have missed these details.
  • The costumes and North Pole characters are very reminiscent of another classic holiday movie, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
  • There are a lot of brand names and recognisable toys in the background of the film.
  • Gimbels, the department store in “Elf,” actually closed in 1986.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ever since its release in 2003, “Elf” has been a beloved Christmas movie.

The movie is as well-known for its delightful plot as it is for its iconic New York City scenes and ridiculous moments.

But even fans who rewatch “Elf” every Christmas may have missed some of these sneaky details:

The beginning of the movie seems to make a reference to a popular cookie company.

Keebler is a popular US cookie brand with elf mascots. Warner Bros.

When Papa Elf narrates the beginning of the movie, he lists the jobs that are available to elves.

He mentions making shoes for an old cobbler, a reference to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” and working at the North Pole, like they do in “Elf.”

In addition to these classic depictions of elves in stories, Papa Elf also mentions baking cookies in trees, which is accompanied by an image of a tree that looks a lot like the one the Keebler elves, from the popular cookie brand, inhabit.

The elves in Santa’s workshop are making some recognisable toys and games.

Bob the Builder and Mr. Potato Head are on their workbenches. Warner Bros.

The scenes in Santa’s workshop show viewers what kind of toys they’re making.

The elves can be seen making and carting around various brand-name toys, including Monopoly board games, Bob the Builder dolls, and Mr. Potato Heads.

The elf costumes may look familiar to fans of another classic Christmas movie.

They are similar to the ones in ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’ Warner Bros.; Rankin/Bass Productions

Fans of classic Christmas movies may recognise that the costumes in “Elf” look like the ones from 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Both movies show elves in belted green tops with white fur on the sleeves and neck, yellow leggings, black shoes, and pointy hats.

The toy production schedule in Santa’s workshop shows the most popular gift requests.

Real toys, like Barbie dolls and Etch A Sketches, are on the spreadsheet. Warner Bros.

When Buddy is behind on making Etch A Sketches, another elf pulls out the toy production schedule.

It shows what seems to be the most popular gift requests for that year, including Barbie dolls, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Etch A Sketches, and Jackhammer Bob.

Leon the Snowman is also reminiscent of a character from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Leon the Snowman in ‘Elf’ (left) and Sam the Snowman in ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ (right). Warner Bros.; Rankin/Bass Productions

Before he leaves the North Pole, Buddy talks to Leon the Snowman, who looks very similar to Sam the Snowman from the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Both snowmen wear dapper clothing, have goatees, and carry something in their right hands. They were also both voiced by famous singer-songwriters.

Other fun details in the scene include Leon talking about the types of clouds that create snow while explaining where he came from, and the fact that Leon spelled backward is Noel.

Santa’s comment about Ray’s Pizza is incorrect.

Edward Asner as Santa in ‘Elf.’ Warner Bros.

When Santa talks to Buddy about New York, he complains that there are several Ray’s Pizzas that all claim to be the original, but that “the real one’s on 11th.”

There was a Famous Ray’s Pizza on 11th street in Manhattan until 2013, however, it wasn’t the first New York pizzeria to use the name.

The original Ray’s Pizza, from a historical standpoint, was actually on Prince Street, but Santa is right that many other pizzerias have copied the name.

Buddy’s father’s secretary has a pretty strange phone call.

Amy Sedaris as Deb in ‘Elf’ Warner Bros.

Walter’s secretary, Deb, is distracted by a phone call when Buddy first visits his father’s office, which allows him to walk by her unnoticed before he returns to ask for directions.

Viewers who listen closely will notice that the conversation she’s having on the phone is pretty bizarre.

The person on the phone asks if she can declaw eight kittens, an unexpected request to make of a secretary at a publishing house.

There are real books and book posters in Walter’s office.

‘The Sea King’ is a real children’s book. Warner Bros.

When Buddy visits his father, Walter Hobbs, at his publishing job, there are plenty of real children’s books (and promotional posters) in his office that were released a little before “Elf.”

For example, Jane Yolen’s “The Sea King,” which was published in 2002, can be seen on top of a bookshelf.

Gimbels closed years before the movie was made.

Gimbels was a department store in New York City. Warner Bros.

When the security guards at Walter’s office throw Buddy out, they suggest he go back to Santaland at Gimbels.

The highly festive store is heavily featured throughout the rest of “Elf,” but viewers may not have realised that Gimbels was a real department store in New York City that closed in 1986.

The film used the Textile Building on Fifth Avenue for the wide exterior shots of Gimbels, and the decorations were reportedly added using CGI.

The manager at Gimbels wears a name tag that was meant for a different actor.

Faizon Love played the manager at Gimbels. Warner Bros.

Faizon Love’s character wears a name tag that reads “Wanda,” but he’s only ever referred to as “Gimbel’s Manager” in the film’s credits.

According to the “Elf” episode of Netflix’s “The Holiday Movies That Made Us,” producer Jon Berg said that they originally wanted Wanda Sykes to play the role, but she dropped out at the last minute.

It was Love’s decision to wear the “Wanda” name tag – which they preemptively made for Sykes – in the film.

Buddy recreated the Mona Lisa on an Etch A Sketch.

He recreated the famous painting while decorating the department store. Warner Bros.

Buddy decorates Gimbels and manages to transform the Santaland area overnight.

In the iconic montage, he creates fake snow out of pillows, cuts paper snowflakes and chains, and recreates the New York City skyline out of Legos.

All of Buddy’s decorating work is impressive, but one of the most unexpected decorations is the version of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa he recreated on an Etch A Sketch.

There’s an anti-tobacco poster at the doctor’s office.

It’s a real add that circulated in the early 2000s. Warner Bros.

While Walter talks to Buddy’s doctor, Buddy chats with a girl in the waiting room.

They discuss Santa while sitting in front of a poster that reads, “Right decisions, right now.”

This is an actual anti-tobacco campaign slogan that was popular at the time.

The film’s director made a cameo.

Jon Favreau directed ‘Elf.’ Warner Bros.

Jon Favreau directed “Elf,” but he also made a short cameo in the film as the no-nonsense doctor Walter and Buddy visit.

They never explain how Buddy got all of the sugary food he eats at the Hobbs’.

They either already had them, or we missed an eventful shopping trip. Warner Bros.

When Buddy stays at the Hobbs’ house, he eats plenty of sugary meals.

However, we don’t see Buddy go food shopping, so it’s unclear if he had an unseen, eventful trip to the grocery store, or if the Hobbs family somehow had all of the treats already.

A more likely explanation is probably that Emily, Walter’s wife, had to go and pick up bottles of maple syrup, boxes of Pop-Tarts, and bags of candy for Buddy.

Buddy’s schedule of cosy winter activities includes another branded item.

There are lots of toy and food brands featured in the movie. Warner Bros.

Buddy makes a schedule on an Etch A Sketch of all the fun winter activities he wants to do with his dad.

The list includes making snow angels, going ice skating, and having a “Toll House cookie-dough eating race.”

In addition to all the name-brand toys featured in the film,Toll House is one of many visible food brands.

Will Ferrell actually ate Buddy’s super-sweet meals.

It would be hard to fake those shots. Warner Bros.

Buddy eats plenty of sugary concoctions throughout the movie, but his most memorable meal may be the spaghetti he tops with marshmallows, Hershey’s syrup, M&M’s, and chocolate Pop-Tarts.

And according to the Mirror, Will Ferrell, who played Buddy,actually had to eat the food in the scene.

Buddy’s coworker wasn’t putting syrup in his coffee.

Mark Acheson played ‘Mailroom Guy’ in ‘Elf.’ Warner Bros.

During Buddy’s brief time in the mail room at his father’s office, he strikes up a friendship with a coworker.

When Buddy sees him pouring something from an amber-coloured bottle into his coffee, he assumes that the coworker is drinking maple syrup and asks for some to put in his own cup.

But based on how sleepy and emotional Buddy and his new pal get after they drink their coffees, it seems that it was actually alcohol.

Buddy makes a reference to the scene where he got hit by a cab.

Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel starred in ‘Elf.’ Warner Bros.

When crossing a city street with Jovie, Buddy specifically warns her to watch out for cars.

He tells her that “the yellow ones don’t stop” – a fair warning since he was hit by a yellow taxi when he first arrived in New York City.

The NY1 reporter says the wrong year in reference to the Central Park Rangers incident.

The Simon and Garfunkel concert happened in 1981. Warner Bros.

After Santa’s sleigh crashes into Central Park, pedestrians and news reporters start flocking the scene.

The NY1 reporter states that the Central Park Rangers are coming to investigate the incident, and mentions the criticism they received for crowd control tactics at “the Simon and Garfunkel concert in ’85.”

Though there was a well-known conflict between Central Park Rangers and Simon and Garfunkel concert goers, it actually happened in 1981.

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