Mickey Mouse, amphetamine shill

In the 1950s, speed was legally sold as "pep pills" to help improve your mood and vigor, and Mickey Mouse got in the act with a series of strips in which Mickey pimped amphetamine to kids and grownups who needed a little pick-me-up.

Mickey Mouse on Speed (via IO9)


  1. I love the values this comic promotes. The best society is the speed (amphetamine-esque) society, the smartest thing to do with a drug is to become a pusher, and the reason why Africa is “backwards” is because of, well, because of hash. And finally, of course, only amphetamines can save them.

    1. @loonquawl I believe the “go pill” given to pilots these days is modafinil, not an amphetamine. I could be wrong.

      This thread is yet another argument for repealing *all* of our drug laws. We give our kids pure speed to get through school but people in chronic pain can’t get real pain meds (opioids). Even state-legal medical MJ, in the paucity of states it’s allowed, can get you busted by the Feds.

      Random thought, someone should do a mash-up of this strip with the I Love Lucy “Vitameatavegamin” bit.

      1. @hassenpfeffer, yes the one aircrews use is modafinil, not amphetamine. Not so much a “go” pill but a “stay alert” pill.

        While this old Mickey comic is beyond disturbing, I’d be OK with cartoon characters demonstrating responsible drug use, plus the negative side effects and bad stuff too.

  2. Wow, they were pimping Adderall back then, too.

    If you follow the link to erowid and see the full comic, it’s quite disturbing.

    They introduce the magic of western amphetamines to a village of ignorant African stereotypes.

  3. Boy, I’d never fall for someone trying to sell me pep pills.
    (He says while sitting here drinking diet coke)

  4. In the 1970s, Disney comics were distributed in South American nations like Chile encouraging the shooting of Marxists, meaning anyone who disagreed with the business classes. This was famously covered in the book Como Leer el Pato Donald, published by left wingers in Chile (“How to Read Donald Duck”).

    It was god-damned disgusting, and Disney didn’t give a shit.

      1. I don’t know. I thought I gave the right addresses and HTML. Just put “How to Read Donald Duck” into Wikipedia (or Google to link to Wikipedia) and that will work.

  5. This is great! So Mickey was a tweeker, that explains a few things.

    Mickey Mouse…


    Salami from The White Shadow…

  6. Back then it was well known that you could remove the strip from the nasal decongestants that they sold and let it soak in a cup of coffee. Drinking the coffee gave one a mega-dose of benzadrine that assured you wouldn’t sleep or get hungry for at least two days. As unsurprising as Mickey being used to as a shill for various products is, at least they didn’t exaggerate the effects. “Zowie! I’m gonna mow the lawn, paint the house, clean out the attic…” At least until the mouse becomes an addict and the frenetic production ceases only to be replaced with paranoia and non-stop masturbation.

  7. It is a product of its time. Funny, but not a particularly big deal. I mean, Wile E. Coyote tried to trick the Road Runner into eating a form of speed in an old Looney Tunes cartoon. Alice in Alice in Wonderland ate biscuits to make herself smaller and larger. These aren’t that big a deal. Cartoon characters can also fall off cliffs without dieing, run through painted walls that resemble tunnels and avoid the effects of gravity without noticing the lack of ground beneath them.

  8. Yeah, I can see why they are so zealous over copyright. It’d be a horrible thing to make a comic where Mickey Mouse, say, was a drug dealer or Donald Duck was an assassin. Wait, what?

    1. Came here to say basically this… Can’t let Mickey Mouse fall into the Public Domain as part of our culture, b/c he might be misused?

      I don’t see how it can go much lower than this.

  9. I distinctly recall Bugs Bunny using speed in that cartoon where he filled in for the Road Runner. Come to think of it, Underdog was addicted to steroids…

    There was quite a drug subculture among cartoon characters, wasn’t there?

  10. Don’t forget Popeye the Sailor’s affinity for spinach.

    It’s not normal to punch Bluto’s lights out for stealing a dance with Olive Oyl, but on spinach it is. SPINACH: not even once.

  11. Somewhat unexpectedly, given the number of comics that were produced for advertising purposes, “Peppo” was either fictitious or has fallen into obscurity hard and fast.

    Google only knows about it in the context of this comic and ebay doesn’t have a single historical glass bottle for sale. One would have expected that a firm large enough to have mickey shilling for them would have at least left a few traces.

  12. Just in case anyone thinks we don’t still have legalized speed, have a look at adderall. I couldn’t find exact numbers, but this page says there were 37,000,000 prescriptions filled for it between 2001 – 2005, and I’m guessing use has only increased since then.

    1. Crystal meth is a scourge we must wipe out… think of the children.

      ADHD is such a horrible disease, thinking of the children lets prescribe them adderall.

      Wait what?

      1. Pedantic, I know; but Desoxyn, not Ritalin, is methamphetamine’s legal-by-prescription medical alter-ego.

        Unfortunately, those killjoys at the FDA stripped the original approved indications, so you can no longer get it to cure your hay fever; but it is still available for ADHD or exogenous obesity(though, given the extent of the “zOMG Meth!” cultural movement, much less likely than straight amphetamine to be prescribed, unless those aren’t working for some reason).

  13. Mickey is due for a facelift in the near future (seriously) Look here fore the buzz and other options for a 2010 Mickey Mouse

  14. I believe Peppo is mentioned in a Ukridge story by PG Wodehouse published in 1924. I always assumed he made it up. “Peppo, laddie! It bucks you up!”

  15. Such an innocent time in cartoons… meth was all the rage… Africans could be portrayed with borderline racist caricatures (The fun starts a couple pages in!)

    At least cartoon characters on cereal boxes will never lose their lovable addictive personalities!

  16. “Goofy! I’ve got an idea! Let’s smoke a joint to chill out a little, my teeth are starting to wiggle.”

    “Mickey — reefer, really? We’re not degenerates!”

  17. The bomber pilots also use Dexedrine, an amphetamine; The bombing of Canadian forces in Afghanistan 2002 was blamed by the pilot on his (approved and documented) intake of amphetamines. Up to 1991 it was SOP to give pilots amphetamines before combat missions. After the ’91 Iraq War that policy was changed to ‘only if need be, and mostly for transocean flights, if you please’ – As the incident shows, the (ab)use of amphetamines continues in US combat missions, too.

    1. Can’t say what Canadians do, but dexedrine does get used as half of the common SCOP/DEX cocktail for motion sickness. The dexedrine is meant to offset the negative side effects of scopolamine.

      Funny story time: a trainee friend of mine was given SCOP/DEX prior to a microgravity flight (i.e. the “vomit comet”). He didn’t want to tweak out, and seeing that there were 2 separate pills he elected not to eat the one that he thought was the dexedrine. Nope, it was the scopolamine. He spent the next 3 hours riding zero g parabolas, literally bouncing off the walls, trying desperately not to puke in mid-parabola.

  18. heh, disney being part of the “good” propaganda war against “the reds” do not surprise me.

    what worries me tho, is that this mentality still seems to be strong in some parts of the world. It may even be on a rise (tho resent events may have given it some resistance).

    maybe thats an effect of the ability of memes to jump generations, resulting in grand-kids picking up the opinions and beliefs of their grandparents.

    extremism of all stripes are worriesome, be them economic or religious.

  19. It’s very easy to attack 1950s Mickey when 1950s Mickey is not here to defend himself. This is typical of the way three-dimensional people treat cartoons.

    Well, no more! We have been rolled, folded, spindled, and stapled for far too long. We have spilled too much ink for this to continue.

    The time for the voices of the flat to be heard is NOW.

    This wicked and slanderous hatchet job of Mickey has been submitted to the Society Against the Defamation of Fictional-Americans (Cartoons Especially).

    I assure you, once SADFACE readers see THIS they will, uh, chuckle and move on, I guess. But my point has been made!! The revolution is now!!

Comments are closed.