He’s Strong to the Finish ‘Cuz He Rubs a Chicken?


Popeye facts nephews chicken spinach

How much do you know about everyone’s favorite sailor, Popeye? Consider these fun facts:

  • Popeye made his first appearance in January 1929 in a comics series by Elzie Segar.
  • In the cartoon “Popeye in Goonland” in 1938, Popeye says that he hasn’t seen his father since his birth, forty years earlier. That would place his birth in 1898.
  • The English language owes a debt of gratitude to the one-eyed sailor for creating and popularizing certain words:
    • “Wimp” became synonymous with someone who is timid or cowardly because of Popeye’s pal J. Wellington Wimpy.
    • Popeye’s dog, Eugene the Jeep, soon became associated with the US Army’s General Purpose vehicle. The initials G.P. soon gave way to “Jeep.”
    • The Goon family and Alice the Goon, were strange-looking characters who made appearances on Popeye’s show. Prior to this, “goon” referred exclusively to a criminal or thug. After the Goon family’s appearances, the word also came to mean “strange-looking.”
    • The comic strip introduced us to a character named Dufus, who was rather slow-witted and foolish. His name — sometimes spelledĀ doofus — now refers to anyone who is stupid or foolish.

    words created by Popeye Jeep Goon Wimp Dufus
    From left to right, Dufus, Alice the Goon, J. Wellington Wimpy, and Eugene the Jeep
  • Today we recognize Popeye as the world’s biggest connoisseur of spinach, but as he originally appeared, he did not get his super strength from eating the leafy vegetable. Instead, he rubbed the head of Whiffle Hen, a magical chicken. It wasn’t until 1932 that spinach replaced the chicken. This corresponded with spinach sales increasing by 33% across the United States.
  • In one of his cartoons, Popeye derives his super strength by eating garlic.
  • Popeye had four nephews: Pipeye, Peepeye, Pupeye, and Poopeye.
  • Popeye’s voice was provided by Jack Mercer. His girlfriend, Olive Oyl, owed her voice to Margie Hynes. In real life, Mercer and Hynes got married to each other.
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