4 Hot Facts You Need to Know About the Original Yule Log

A. Bottinick
Getty Images

Nowadays, there’s a Yule log for everyone. If you love animals, Hallmark Channel’s version features a frolicking dog and cat (with a special visit from a friendly pig). Over on YouTube, comedy fans can still watch Nick Offerman’s 2015 take, in which he sips scotch in front of a blaze for 45 minutes. And for the risqué among us, the Yule A Go-Go DVD includes burlesque dancers.

But for some purists, there’s nothing like the original—with its simple crackling flames and classic Christmas carols—which will air on WPIX affiliates and stream on pix11.com. It really is so much more than just a piece of burning wood. TV Guide Magazine unearthed some hot facts you might not know about the original Yule Log.

Our Five Favorite 'Doctor Who' Specials

Our Five Favorite 'Doctor Who' Specials

Which specials make your list?

It’s 51 years old:
The fire first lit in 1966, when the preemption of college basketball left New York City’s WPIX with 90 minutes of unfilled airtime on December 24. Station president Fred M. Thrower, inspired by a Coca-Cola ad featuring Santa Claus and a fireplace, announced that the entire night of programming would be canceled so the channel could air a “Christmas card” to its viewers. Said “card” was 17 seconds of 16-millimeter fireplace footage shot at NYC’s Gracie Mansion, while Thrower’s wife’s holiday record collection played in the background.

It caused costly damage:
The clip had degraded by 1970, but the crew wasn’t allowed to film at Gracie Mansion again. During the making of the original, sparks had burnt through a $4,000 rug. WPIX filmed a new version at a Palo Alto, California, house.

It doesn’t change:
That newer version of the log is really just a seven-minute clip that repeats dozen of times as the same batch of holiday tunes (starting with Percy Faith’s rendition  of “Joy to the World”) plays over it in the same exact order.

It was lost and found:
In 2016, footage of the 1966 version was unearthed and restored just in time for the 50th anniversary. WPIX will air that one this Christmas Eve.

The Yule Log, Check local listings

AlertMe
TV Guide Magazine

This article also appeared in the Dec. 11 - Dec. 24 issue of TV Guide Magazine.

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine.