Popeye’s Story of Spinach

By Fred Grandinetti

Generations of children have been told by their parents, “Eat your spinach and you’ll be strong like Popeye the Sailor Man”. It may come as a surprise to learn Popeye’s original source of strength was not the green vegetable.

Popeye first appeared in the Thimble Theatre comic strip on January 17, 1929 created by E.C. Segar. During his first adventure Popeye is shot multiple times by crime boss, Jack Snork. The sailor then rubbed the feathers of the Whiffle Hen to bring him luck. The hen’s powers healed the sailor’s injuries and he knocked out Snork with a blow from his fist!

Popeye would continue to dazzle newspaper audiences with feats of strength which pre-dated anything Superman would accomplish. Segar eventually phased out The Whiffle Hen and had to come up with another explanation for Popeye’s super abilities. When asked, on June 26, 1931, “How are you able to do such things?” Popeye replied, “Tha’s easy. I eats Spinach.”

Continue reading about Popey’s Spinach.