Popeye the Sailorpedia
Popeye the Sailorpedia
Popeye Thumb
Season 2, Episode 22
Sad and Bored Little Swee'pea.png
Episode Guide
"Kiddie Kapers"
"Barbecue for Two"

"Popeye Thumb" is a 1961 episode of the Popeye the Sailor TV series. It is a parody of Tom Thumb.


Popeye passes boys who are playing baseball and greets Olive and a crying Swee'Pea. Olive explains that Swee'Pea is crying because the bigger boys would not let him play baseball with them and called him a "quarter pint". Popeye comforts the baby with the message that "being small is nothing to be ashamed of." He tells Swee'Pea about another fellow who was small.

In the story, an old farmer and his wife who are too poor to have any food (and therefore have no crumbs, so they are too poor to even have mice) wish for a big, strong son to do work in the farm for them to have food to eat. A good fairy (resembling Olive) grants them their wish, except that their son (whom a stork drops into a lit fireplace) is the size of a thumb, resulting in the name Popeye Thumb. It is shown that he sleeps in a matchbox with rockers at the ends. Despite being happy to be parents, they are sad to be parents of a fellow so small, because they had no idea how he could do any farm work and give them food. Surprisingly, Popeye is bigger (figuratively) in brains than (literally) in size, and he shows it by asking his father if he has any spinach seeds. He only finds one in his seed box, and Popeye Thumb buries it outside with a teaspoon for a shovel, and in a short time, it grows into a nice spinach plant, much to the sorrow of his parents because it is hardly a meal for either of them, but then Popeye Thumb eats a part of the plant and gets so strong even the biggest boy cannot beat him in strength. He gets, in fact, so strong (though he is shown to look like his normal weight again) that he can quickly plow the fields, plant the seeds, rush the food to the market, bring home money, buy a lot of farm animals, and build up their broken-down farmhouse, making his family the richest farmers in the village. In a television interview, the announcer asks Popeye Thumb for the secret of his success, and his answer is, "I always eats me spinach."

Popeye reiterates to Swee'Pea not to be ashamed to be his size, so Swee'Pea reaches into Popeye's shirt (which tickles him) for spinach, and eats some of it, then goes to the diamond and takes the bat. One of the boys tells another named Rusty to let him hit a home run, so Swee'Pea does. He is so impressive that the boys fight over whose team he should be on, so Popeye and Olive laugh and Popeye sings a closing message.


  • Early on, the black-haired boy sounds more childlike, while the red-haired one sounds more like a man, when they greet Popeye. The black-haired boy still sounds like himself before Swee'Pea gets to the home plate and takes the bat. Then the red-haired boy sounds more like a woman with a child-like voice. After the home run, the black-haired boy sounds like a man, even deeper than the red-haired boy did earlier.



  • This episode first aired September 17, 1961
  • Story by Seymour Kneitel
  • This is one of 63 episodes produced by Paramount Cartoon Studios for the Popeye the Sailor TV series.
  • This episode is available from Warner Archive on the Popeye the Sailor The 1960s Classics vol. 1 DVD set.

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