According to The Alternet, Popeye was a pot head:
During the 1920s and '30s, the era when Popeye was created, "spinach" was a very common code word for marijuana. One classic example is "The Spinach Song," recorded in 1938 by the popular jazz band Julia Lee and Her Boyfriends. Performed for years in clubs thick with cannabis smoke, along with other Julia Lee hits like "Sweet Marijuana," the popular song used spinach as an obvious metaphor for pot.
In addition, anti-marijuana propaganda of the time claimed that marijuana use induced super-strength. Overblown media reports proclaimed that pot smokers became extraordinarily strong, and even immune to bullets. So tying in Popeye's mighty strength with his sucking back some spinach would have seemed like an obvious cannabis connection at the time.
…in many of the animated Popeye cartoons from the 1960s, Popeye is explicitly shown sucking the power-giving spinach through his pipe.
Of course, even I remember Popeye getting his “spinach” through his pipe. I’m sure I even remember him lighting it up afterwards. And who can forget the famous breakthrough episode from the late 60s, where Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto sat around the house all day watching bad TV and eating cookie dough and ice cream:
Bluto: “Duuude, pass the spinach”
Popeye: “I haven’t got it. Olive?
Olive Oyl: “Cough cough cough…”
You do remember that episode, right? I do. I think I do anyway.
All this reminds me of another cartoon I used to watch when I was growing up in England in the 19… er never mind. Anyway, there were only two channels on the TV and both were in black & white. The program was “Captain Pugwash”. A cartoon about some jolly pirates. Here’s the thing. The creators played a little joke on the BBC. You see, in those innocent times, the creators of Captain Pugwash included characters with double entendres in their names. Seriously. There was Master Bates, Seaman Staines, and Roger the Cabin Boy. (In English slang, “to roger” someone means to have sex with them. As in, “I gave her a good rogering”.) And no one knew. No one realized. Until many years later, when it all became a great joke. I told this story to many of my American friends to much laughter.
There was only one problem with this story: it wasn’t true. The story about the hoax played on the BBC was, itself, a hoax. The actual crew names were Master Mate, Tom the Cabin Boy, and Pirates Barnabas and Willy. (OK, so perhaps there was one dick joke.) But I remembered the double entendre names. Somehow I had heard the hoaxed story, and created a false memory of it.
False memories are a controversial subject. The forensic psychologist Elizabeth Loftus is an expert in the field, and has published many studies on the subject. In one of her experiments, she exposed volunteers to a fake print advertisement describing a visit to Disneyland, where they would meet Bugs Bunny. Later, 33% of these volunteers claimed they remembered this meeting. The only problem was, Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers cartoon – 33% of the volunteers created a false memory based on what Loftus told them to expect.
False memories can have more serious consequences:
"We can easily distort memories for the details of an event that you did experience," says Loftus. "And we can also go so far as to plant entirely false memories - we call them rich false memories because they are so detailed and so big."
She has persuaded people to adopt false but plausible memories - for instance, that at the age of five or six they had the distressing experience of being lost in a shopping mall.
This has obvious consequences for when someone “recovers” memories of childhood sexual abuse, and the supposed abuser is prosecuted because of these memories. Undoubtedly some innocent people have gone to jail based on recovered memory testimony.
Less serious, but almost as hotly disputed, is that false memories are likely the reason so many people believe they were abducted by aliens. They also help explain how “psychics” and other tricksters get away what with they do. One thing is for sure: memories are not like a tape you can replay and be sure they are exactly correct. So when someone tells you a psychic did or said something that can only have a paranormal explanation, you can bet they’re not remembering it right.
What does all this mean for Popeye? As I recall, he used to consume a whole tin of that “spinach” in every ten minute cartoon skit. That’s a serious quantity. If these rumors about him are true, I doubt if he has memories, false or otherwise, of very much at all.
What’s really in that pipe?