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Popeye the Sailor Man Statue ~ Spinach Festival in Crystal City, Texas

Updated on February 29, 2016

Popeye and Olive Oyl in "A Date to Skate" (1938)

Popeye and Olive Oyl in "A Date to Skate" (1938)
Popeye and Olive Oyl in "A Date to Skate" (1938) | Source


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 this year of 2010 are the following: November 11th to the 14th.

Can't make it? Not to worry! There will always be next year!

Statue of Popeye located in Crystal City, Texas

Statue of Popeye located in Crystal City, Texas
Statue of Popeye located in Crystal City, Texas | Source

Spinach Festival

The picture to the right 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.

Crystal City, Texas

A markerCrystal City, Texas -
Crystal City, TX 78839, USA
get directions

Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (1936)

Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (1936)
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (1936) | Source

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 Theatre 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 that was at hand.

Much of this was achieved in a comical slap-stick manner.

Popeye - A Date to Skate

Olive Oyl

This slim lady with the long legs was Popeye's sweetheart and often Popeye 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 1930's used this love triangle to best advantage for subject matter.

I am old enough to remember when there were cartoons and also news "shorts"...short little episodes of various subjects between the main features in movie theaters. I'm certainly dating myself here. Haha!

Popeye Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves (1937)

Popeye Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves (1937)
Popeye Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves (1937) | Source

Popeye - Strong to the Finich

Popeye statue


Spinach Capitol of the World

Alma, Arkansas also claims this title of being the "Spinach Capitol of the World" and with some 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 spinach, fresh...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 speculate!

Obviously something helped increase consumption and Popeye is as good a reason as any!

Are you familiar with Popeye the Sailor Man?

See results

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.

Raw spinach leaves

Raw spinach leaves
Raw spinach leaves | Source

Nutritional value of Spinach

Eating spinach, especially raw or lightly cooked is almost like taking a multi-vitamin pill in-so-far 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 and many links have been provided to the right to satisfy one's curiosity if more information is desired.

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!

That oxalic acid can also 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. Don't you think so?

© 2010 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 13 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi NBYomi,

      I think that many of us were encouraged to eat spinach because of those old Popeye cartoons. My favorite way to eat spinach today is fresh or lightly sauteed although I can still enjoy canned on occasion. My mother used to crumble some saltine crackers in it and put a poached egg on top. Made for a good and inexpensive meal.

    • NBYomi profile image

      N B Yomi 13 months ago from Dallas, TX

      Right, I keep forgetting how big Texas is. And given that Crystal City is a six hour drive from Dallas, I'm putting a trip to The Spinach Festival on my bucket list. It'd be a good reason to travel out of town. Not to mention I'm curious on how the festival operates. Not to mention I'm curious to see if I'm not the only person who eats Spinach because he used to watch Popeye cartoons as a kid.

      I have a hunch that trend might have transcended generations.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 13 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello NBYomi,

      Texas is such a large state that it would take a lifetime to learn about everything happening in this state...particularly seasonal things like recurring festivals. Will you be planning a trip to the next Spinach Festival? :)

    • NBYomi profile image

      N B Yomi 13 months ago from Dallas, TX

      I've lived in Texas for 19 years, this article is five years old.... How did I not know about this festival until today?

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Vinaya,

      Popeye the Sailor Man was a very popular cartoon character that was not only in comic book form but also on television when I was a child growing up. It was a cute series. Glad that you found it interesting. Thanks for your comment.

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