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Eugene the Jeep

January 18, 2013

One of the great all time supporting casts would have to be Popeye's charmingly unruly gang - but did you know that one of the key players that made this cast work so well was a strange little animal called the Jeep? The Jeep arrived in March 1936, sent as a gift from Olive Oyl's explorer uncle, who picked him up on one of his African adventures. He came in a crate marked “Eugene the Jeep” - which had Olive completely confused and a little hesitant to open the box at first. Once she did, however, she fell in love with the strange creature inside - and decided to keep him as a pet. This odd little animal could do some very odd things - like travel into the fourth dimension and foresee the future - but the only word he knew how to utter was “jeep.” Hence, his bizarre name. The Jeep was absolutely adorable, with his mouse-like ears and whiskers, and tail that stuck straight up in the air when he was trying to communicate that something was the right answer (remember, he couldn't speak, so he had to predict the future somehow).

In one strip, when Mr. Chizzelflint tried to buy the magical creature for 2,000, then 5,000 dollars, Olive declared that she wouldn't trade him even for a million dollars. She stayed true to her word even after she found out that the only Jeep could only eat expensive orchids (though Popeye, of course, wanted to feed him spinach). And once the Jeep's powers started catching on, he became the life of the Popeye party. Wimpy found out he could predict the future, so he started using him to bet on horses. Everyone wanted to buy the Jeep and be part of his fascinating world, but ultimately, the only one Olive gave him to was Popeye.

The Jeep became so popular that plenty of toys were issued featuring him - all of which are extremely difficult to find today. Interestingly enough, when the military created a new vehicle that could travel any terrain and do so many new, unique things, they called it the Jeep - after the unique little character whose name had become such a popular word. So, even if you can't get your hands on any vintage Jeep memorabilia, you can still own a little bit of his legacy!

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