How a Young Cartoonist from Illinois Created America’s Favorite Spinach-Eating Sailor
Have you ever found yourself reading an old Popeye comic strip, or maybe watching one of those old cartoons, or maybe even watching the 1980 live-action Popeye movie with Robin Williams, and you think to yourself, "I wonder who came up with the idea for a wacky sailor man?" If so, you have come to the right place for the answer.
Popeye Fun Fact #1 - Who Created Him?
You have to travel way back in time to learn about Popeye's origin, but you don't have to travel that far geographically. Our favorite spinach-eating seaman came from the mind of Elzie Crisler Segar who was born and raised in the small town of Chester, Illinois. The young cartoonist first introduced Popeye to the world on January 17, 1929.
Popeye Fun Fact #2 - Olive Oyl was Famous First
I was under the impression (and I bet I'm not the only one) that the gangly, uncoordinated gal was created to be Popeye's ongoing love interesting - but the opposite is the truth. Olive Oyl was the main character of her own comic strip in 1919 - a full decade before Popeye came along.
Popeye Fun Fact #3 - He's Not 'Popeye' Everywhere
One of Popeye's favorite sayings was "I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam," but he's not what he is in certain parts of the world. Let me explain. In America, we know him as Popeye, but in Italy, he is known as Iron Arm. For some reason, he is known as Karl Alfred in Sweden and Skipper Skraek or "Terror of the Sea" in Denmark.
Popeye Fun Fact #4 - He Was One of the Original Influencers
When Popeye found himself in a precarious situation, he would turn to his trusty can of spinach to get a sudden surge of strength. The leafy greens were a part of every story, and he even sang about it "I'm strong to the finish 'cause I eats me spinach." According to popeye.com, the spinach industry credits Popeye with increasing the consumption of spinach in the United States by 33%. Popeye even has his own brand of canned spinach which is available at grocery stores all around the country.
From the imagination of a 25-year-old cartoonist to the page, small screen, big screen, and beyond, Popeye's legacy has endured for more than nine decades. So, the next time you enjoy a classic Popeye moment, remember, "I yam what I yam," and that's a timeless testament to the enduring power of creativity and storytelling...and spinach.
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