Nugget of Knowledge: Popeye and spinach

Popeye the Sailor has been around since 1929

Nugget of Knowledge

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Popeye the Sailorman has been around since 1929, and whenever he needs strong muscles, he opens a can of spinach because it’s loaded with iron for all the power he’ll need and more.

Not quite.

It’s all a big misunderstanding that started in 1870. A German chemist, Erich Von Wolf, was researching iron in spinach and other vegetables.

But when writing it down, Von Wolf misplaced a decimal point, giving spinach 10  times as much iron as he had measured.

Spinach has 3.5 grams of iron in a 100-gram serving. He wrote down 35 grams. That number found its way into all of the nutritional tables and became fact.

The creators of Popeye decided to use spinach to make him powerful.

Nutritionists discovered the mistake in 1937, but by then, Popeye had been eating it for years, and the myth lived on.

The British Medical Journal tried to debunk spinach in 1981. Nobody cared. Spinach is still the king of iron by a decimal point in the wrong place.

Did you miss an episode of Daybreak or want to re-visit a previous “Nugget”? View previous “Nugget of Knowledge” entries on WYTV.com.

If you have an idea for a “Nugget of Knowledge,” send your idea in an email to Len.Rome@wytv.com.