What’s In Popeye’s Pipe?

AlterNet contributor Dana Larsen probably was smoking some spinach herself, when she wrote this hilarious analysis of Popeye’s drug-related symbolism:

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.
What’s In Popeye’s Pipe?, Dana Larsen, AlterNet.

She also suggests that the burning bush in the bible, through which the big guy chats with Moses, symbolized the cannabis plant, and that Popeye’s famous phrase “I yam what I yam” is an echo of Moses’ “I am whatI am” statement to the burning shrubbery:

So in this context, the use of phrase, “I yam what I yam,” can be seen as a reference to Popeye’s use of the burning cannabis bush, which creates his higher awareness of the self-reflective nature of the Godhead.

Waiter! I’ll have whatever Dana is smoking.

One Response to “What’s In Popeye’s Pipe?”

  1. Dana Larsen Says:

    I am Dana Larsen, the author of the article you linked to about Popeye’s spinach being a metaphor for marijuana.

    I thought your readers might like to see this Popeye cover from October 1939, drawn by Joseph Musial. I only came across this cover recently, after I had written the original article posted on Alternet. The comic cover shows Popeye lounging among pillows in an Arabian sort of tent, smoking out of a hookah labelled “Spinach.”

    This cover illustration shows that, to at least some people involved in the early formation of the Popeye comics, the spinach/marijuana connection was obvious, and not something they were ashamed of, as King Comics put it prominently on the cover.