Popeye, the Marketing Icon


We all now know that spinach isn’t the miracle vegetable so full of iron it can turn the thinnest man into a muscle man, but let’s face it, Popeye the Sailor Man, the muscle–packed character lied to us for a very long time. Modern science related to nutrition and chemistry proved without a doubt that the iron content of spinach is actually pretty insignificant, not to mention that being plant–based iron, it is quite hard to assimilate. However, behind Popeye’s world – wide success lies the error of Mr. Erich von Wolf, a German chemist who back in 1870 was studying the nutritional benefits of spinach. The man got distracted one day and instead of correctly writing the iron concentration in spinach as 3.5 grams, the correct amount, he instead wrote 35 grams. This turned spinach into a fabulous and miraculous vegetable and starting with 1929, the birth year of Popeye, everybody was convinced that spinach contained more iron than red meat.

popeye-spinach-550x357Popeye was conceived for marketing purposes and he was a success at it. The super–vegetable together with this unlikely, but super hero, managed to save the spinach industry, as they sky rocketed the sales of canned spinach by 33% back in the thirties. In 1937, two major events on this front took place: the ones responsible with Popeye and the spinach business admitted to the error of the iron concentration and tried correcting it, with no success whatsoever. People were so in love with Popeye they continued to buy spinach and they couldn’t care less about the error. At the same time Popeye received his own statue, a monument in his honor for saving a line of industry.

People still buy canned spinach with Popeye’s face on the label and are still convinced this is the superhero vegetable that turns a child into an iron hero, even though it’s a fact that there are numerous foods that will help one’s performance and stamina even better than spinach.


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