Wheatena sponsored the Popeye radio program from September 10, 1935 through March 28, 1936. During that time, 87 episodes aired on the NBC Red Network. Wheatena is said to have paid King Features $1,200 per week for the rights to the sailor.
During the show, Popeye abandoned his trademark spinach for bowls of Wheatena to muster his strength! Popeye's familiar theme song was altered to say:
"Wheatena's me diet, I ax ya to try it, I'm Popeye the Sailor man! Toot. Toot."
Wheatena made a second attempt at broadcasting Popeye on another network -- CBS from August 31, 1936 to February 26, 1937. Spinach was again replaced with Wheatena.
Unlike other popular kid programs of the day which pitched free mail-in offers regularly, Popeye radio premium offers were scarce. Wheatena did produce three enamel lapel pins of Popeye, Olive Oyl and Wimpy available for boxtops mailed to their plant in Rahway NJ.
Even today, collectors of both radio and comic character genres seek Wheatena advertising items promoting the Popeye show. It appears Popeye actually had two loves!
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