Popeye: “The iron-spinach misprint was actually a marvelous marketing ploy”

CHRIS DUNMIRE: Let’s talk about the spinach… did it really make you strong?

POPEYE THE SAILOR: Of course! It’s loaded with iron.

I read on Wikipedia that “the reference to spinach comes from the publication of a study which, because of a misprint, attributed to spinach ten times its actual iron content.” And your popularity “helped boost sales of the vegetable and the spinach-growing community of Crystal City, Texas.”

What’s a Wikipedia?

It’s a free encyclopedia on the Internet.

What’s an Internet?

Are you skirting the issue?

(plugs ears) La la la la!


Ark ark ark! I’m just foolin’ ya Chris. Yes, it’s true. The iron-spinach misprint was actually a marvelous marketing ploy. How else could we get kids to eat the stuff?

I have to admit, you did make it look good.

Exactly! And that was the whole point. Sales on canned spinach, well, everything in dem days was canned, skyrocketed. And everyone in show business knows that when your advertisers are happy, your producers are happy, and you’re happy. There was a lot of green flowin’, if ya knows what I mean! (winks)

I’m kind of embarrassed to ask you about this… but the Wikipedia article also said this: “It has also been claimed that the “spinach” Popeye used was a reference to marijuana. Spinach was a slang term for marijuana at the time of Popeye’s creation, and it was believed by some during that time period that marijuana could give users superhuman strength.”

Well, if it’s on the Internet, it must be true! Ark ark ark!

Okay, let’s talk about the statues.

Which one?

Well, there’s the bronze statue in Chester, Illinois… another one in the “Spinach Capital of the World” Alma, Arkansas… and one in Crystal City, Texas.

Boy, yer smart! How’d you know all that?

I Googled you.

What’s a Google?

Yes, another Web site named RoadSideAmerica.com has pictures and blurbs about them.

Well blow me down! Ark ark ark!

I was angry to read about the vandals who ripped the bronze one off the pedestal and damaged the face.

Ah well… Bluto’s abound.

You should really get your own Web site for all of this stuff.

Bah! I don’t have time for that.

How did you like Robin Williams playing your character in the 1980 Paramount Pictures movie Popeye?

Spittin’ image that youngin’ was (flexes arm muscle). And Shelley Duvall made a perfectly flat Olive! Ark ark ark!

Did you know they are running your cartoons on the Boomerang Channel?

Yes, I heard about that. Don’t watch much TV these days. You know, I was born before it was invented!

Yes, I recently got Direct TV and as soon as I spotted it in the guide turned it on. I felt like I was a kid again. And you know what is truly funny about it all?


There are so many “inside” jokes going on under your breath in the cartoons that I had to grow up to understand them! I also watch SpongeBob SquarePants and the owner of the Krusty Krab (Mr. Krabs) laughs just like you.

Ark ark ark!

I like watching your cartoons now for historical reasons. It’s like experiencing a slice of time.

Yes, it all started in 1929. How many years ago was that?

(punches numbers in calculator) Let’s see, 2000 minus 1929 equals 71. Plus five more years is… oh, duh… 76. That explains last year’s 75th anniversary.

What’s that? A telephone?

No, a calculator. And they did have these before you were born. They were called abacuses.

(frowns and twirls corn cob pipe)

So what DO you do now that you’re retired?

What? Don’t you read the Internet? My page at King Features tells you all about it!

“Today the sailorman has made Popeye-brand canned spinach the No. 2 brand behind Del Monte and he has his own brand of fresh spinach, salads and fresh vegetable snacks. He has also punched up supermarket sales of everything from Pepsi to popcorn, not to mention millions of T-shirts, caps, jackets, collectors’ watches. In fact, Popeye was the first character to invade, in an important way, the toy and novelty field. From tin wind-up toys to puzzles and kazoo pipes, early Popeye novelty merchandise now carries staggering price tags in antique shops and flea markets.”

You sneaky sly fox… here I thought you were technology illiterate… I bet you’re online everyday!

Ark ark ark! That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!

I guess we’re out of time then?

Darn tootin’.

I have a ton more questions for you about Olive, Wimpy, Sweet Pea, the Goons, the Jeep, and your witty sense of humor. Can we do another interview sometime?

Why don’t ya just e-mail me!

Sure thing. Thank you Popeye!

(closing music da da da da da da … end with visual of Popeye’s head in a star…toot toot!)

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