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Popeye the Sailor Man and Spinach Festival in Crystal City, Texas
What does Popeye the Sailor Man and an annual Spinach Festival have to do with Crystal City, Texas?
The answer is everything!
A giant Popeye the Sailor Man statue graces the center of town all times of year and the folks who live in Crystal City have proclaimed themselves to be the "Spinach Capitol of the World."
Whether or not the latter is true, this small town in Texas celebrates all things Popeye and all things spinach every year during their Spinach Festival.
The dates set for the Spinach Festival are always the second weekend in November of each year.
The picture above is the Popeye monument in Crystal City that was erected on March 26, 1937.
The spinach festival dates back to 1936!
If attending this annual festival be prepared to taste all sorts of recipes using this healthy ingredient. One can exit this spinach festival sated with tasty food in one's stomach as well as lots of information that one might never have previously known.
I have driven through this small town but never during the Spinach Festival which attracts tourists from distant locations for several days of fun.
Popeye the Sailor Man
Is there anyone alive today who is unfamiliar with the fictional hero Popeye the Sailor Man?
Created by Elzie Crisler Segar, this middle aged sailor man with the tattooed large forearms and his famous corncob pipe most often found in his mouth has been gracing comic strips since January 17, 1929.
Popeye was first featured on a comic strip called the Thimble Theater and as his popularity rapidly grew, the strip became simply known as Popeye.
No matter what kind of trouble Popeye encountered (and that was comically often) he could always get out of the latest scrape by ingesting his can of spinach which was conveniently nearby.
Often he had a can of spinach hidden in his clothing until it was needed.
After consuming the spinach which gave him superhuman strength, he could whip around and in a whirl of activity remedy the dire situation which was at hand.
Much of this was achieved in a comical slap-stick manner.
This slim lady with the long legs was Popeye's sweetheart. Popeye often had to contend with the corpulent Bluto or other characters to maintain Olive Oyl's affection.
Many an episode either written for the strip comics or scripted for television shows or even cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures in the 1930s used this love triangle to best advantage for subject matter.
I am old enough to remember when there were cartoons and also news shorts. Those were short little episodes of various subjects between the main features in movie theaters. I'm certainly dating myself here. Haha!
Spinach Capitol of the World
Alma, Arkansas also claims this title of being the "Spinach Capitol of the World" and with some good reason.
Allen Canning is the home and marketing company for the numerous cans of Popeye spinach that are produced here.
The squinty-eyed old sailor Popeye graces each can and I have personally consumed many of them in my years.
Compared to canned, fresh spinach if lightly cooked has a better flavor in my opinion.
Eating spinach raw in salads is also good and it is highly nutritious.
An interesting statistic gathered from Wikipedia is that spinach consumption increased 33% in the years 1931 to 1936 when Popeye became widely known.
Just how many mothers used Popeye the Sailor Man as an example to encourage their children to eat more spinach? We will never know but we can only speculate.
Obviously something helped increase consumption and Popeye is as good a reason as any!
Are you familiar with Popeye the Sailor Man?
Popeye the Sailor Man Song
Somehow along the way the normal Popeye the Sailor Man song was distorted into a silly ditty that I remember singing as a kid. I do not know the author.
It went like this:
"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
I live in a garbage can
I like to go swimmin'
with beautiful women
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man."
Do any of you remember singing this when you were kids? My husband also remembers this from his childhood.
Nutritional Value of Spinach
Eating spinach especially raw or lightly cooked is almost like taking a multi-vitamin pill insofar as getting a variety of vitamins and minerals when one reads what this vegetable contains.
Spinach has good antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, E and K and several of the B vitamins in addition to elements such as calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and so forth.
The list is long as to what is included in this vegetable except for calories. 1 cup of raw spinach has a mere 7 calories! However not all of those nutrients are easily absorbed.
Spinach also contains oxalic acid which blocks some of the health benefits of the body being able to utilize the iron. This can be avoided by pairing spinach with another food containing Vitamin C. Think of that Vitamin C as a ninja warrior unleashing the power of the good iron benefits from the spinach. Go ninja warrior!
Oxalic acid can be a problem for people who tend to develop kidney stones or gout.
Thus Popeye's favorite food should not be consumed in large amounts for those who might be prone to developing those maladies.
The use of pesticides in the mass production of spinach is another concern. Buying organic or growing your own spinach is one way to avoid the taint of pesticides on this food source.
The vast majority of the spinach grown in the United States comes from California with other states also contributing to a lessor extent.
I vividly remember driving through the central valley of California with a girl friend years ago while on vacation.
Those fields of produce seemingly stretched out forever on either side of the road with the endless rows of cultivated fields meeting the horizon.
It is truly an amazing site to see!
Popeye the Sailor Man in Real Life!
Use of Popeye in Advertising
Popeye lives on through the continued use of various forms of advertising. There was even a live action film in 1980 starring Robin Williams as Popeye and Shelley Duvall playing the role of Olive Oyl.
Whether spotting that statue of Popeye in Crystal City, Texas or attending their annual spinach festival, Popeye the Sailor Man forever remains an iconic spokesman for the value of eating spinach in comics, films, games and more.
When thinking of interesting Texas sites to see, Crystal City would be an especially fun place to visit during their spinach festival each year.
Crystal City, Texas
Have you ever attended the spinach festival in Crystal City?
© 2010 Peggy Woods