This novelty Christmas song was written by Don Gardner (1913-2004), who is not to be confused with the vocalist and drummer Don Gardner. After graduating from Westchester University, Pennsylvania, Donald Yetter Gardner and his wife Doris moved to Smithtown, New York where they taught music at the local elementary school.
In 1998, half a century after his first and only Billboard hit, he gave an interview at his Massachusetts home in which the couple performed the song, and where he explained how he came to write it. In 1944, when Doris had a baby, he took over her second grade class. The whole school system was in one building, he said, and as Christmas approached, he was asked to come up with a song for the holiday concert. One day, he was in class when the teacher asked the pupils what present they wanted. Each replied: "all I want for Christmas..." Gardner noticed that out of a class of 22, no less than 16 had both front teeth missing - something which is not uncommon in infants as their milk teeth are replaced by their permanent ones.
This inspired the song, and at the concert "It brought down the house" said Doris. That is where it might have ended, but Don left teaching to work for a text book company, who turned it down when he offered it to them for free! Eventually it ended up on the desk of a New York music publisher, who told him it may sell a thousand copies but "it'll never be a hit." At this point he told a little white lie, he'd already had an offer for it, he said, and as he walked out of the door the publisher called him back. The song was first recorded on Victor by Spike Jones And His City Slickers, with vocals by George Rock. Released in October 1948 backed by "Happy New Year," its extraordinary success led to the December 13, 1948 Record Bulletin headline:
EXTRA! EXTRA! Jones" "Two Front Teeth" Rocks U.S. With Loads Of Laughter And Gales Of Sales!!
Gardner said proudly that a local newspaper claimed he had "captured a universal moment in childhood and turned it into a lasting memory."
Although the phrase "All I want for Christmas" is or has become a cliché, Gardner's classic can be said to have inspired at least one other song, "All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle."
Artists to cover this include Nat King Cole, George Strait, The Chipmunks and Mariah Carey. In 2002 Cledus T. Judd did a rap parody of the song as "All I Want For Christmas Is Two Gold Front Teef."
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
The British Library holds several copies of the sheet music. "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," published by B. Feldman & Co of London, M. Witmark & Sons of New York. Copyright 1948. Price 1 shilling. Professional copy of same published by B. Feldman & Co. 1948. And with brackets in the title: "All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)" published by M. Witmark & Sons, New York, Copyright 1956. Price 50c.
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
Mike from Atlanta, GaI might have been in the shamne whay! Ha! Mike
Keith from San Francisco, CaDue to an accident at home where my two front teeth were knocked out at age 2 and I didnt get my adult two front teeth until I was 7 (this was the late 50s and early 60s) this was like my theme song, and I especially remember the Chipmunks version and even downloaded it recently from i-tunes to my ipod (yes I am 52 and have an ipod)