Back When Mickey Mouse was a Speed Freak
Mind Hacks recently ran a short post on the history of Mickey Mouse using amphetamines. As strange as it sounds, the notion wasn’t all that peculiar in the 1950s when anyone could buy legal speed over-the-counter, but still this little piece of cartoon history is remarkable. Vaughan gave me the thumbs up to repost here.
Drug information site Erowid recently posted a 1951 Disney comic where Mickey Mouse and Goofy take speed.
In the strip, ‘Mickey Mouse and the Medicine Man’, Mickey and Goofy discover a new medicine called ‘Peppo’ which is clearly meant to represent amphetamine. Their enthusiasm for the chemical pick-me-up leads them to become salesman for the product in Africa.
Although the idea of Disney characters taking speed seems rather incongruous these days, in 1951 amphetamine was legal and widely available over-the-counter in America, mostly in the form of Benzedrine inhalers.
It wasn’t until the mid-60s when these were made prescription only and non-medical amphetamine wasn’t outlawed until 1971.
As well as casual racism, the strip also features various characters eating ‘hash’ which knocks them out.
For those not familiar with American English, this isn’t a direct reference to hashish or cannabis resin but a reference to a peculiarly unappetising type of food of the same name which, in the story, seems to have been spiked with some sort of unidentified sedative.
However, given the rather unenlightened portrayal of Africans in the piece and the 1950s stereotype of marijuana being a drug of black Americans, I wonder if the lethargy inducing properties of the ‘hash’ are meant to be an indirect reference to the drug.
Link to ‘Mickey Mouse and the Medicine Man’.