It’s going to be a busy weekend in Lenexa, Kansas, outside Kansas City.
The Lenexa Spinach Festival has games, crafts, music, the world’s largest spinach salad and a visit from noted cartoon spinach addict Popeye the sailor.
That’s fitting, since a report in 435 Magazine says it was Popeye’s popularity that helped make Lenexa’s spinach famous in the first place.
There was a spinach boom in the late 1920s, thanks in large part to Popeye cartoons where, for those who don’t know, the sailor would hulk up and vanquish the bad guys after pounding a can of spinach.
A big spinach buyer in Chicago was looking for a new source, and discovered that the soil in Lenexa was perfect for the crop. And it didn’t hurt that the town’s founder had made sure there was a train depot, which meant the spinach could be sent to the big canneries by rail.
By 1934, the Kansas City Star named the town the Spinach Capital of the World.
And if you’re curious about that giant spinach salad, the book “Kansas Curiosities” by Pam Grout measured it this way: 150 pounds of spinach, 600 mushrooms, 100 cloves of garlic and 12 jars of bacon bits – dressed with 75 cups of vinegar and 50 cups of salad oil.
We just heard about Lenexa’s history as a spinach town, now we hear about a pie town. In fact, it’s called Pie Town, New Mexico.
A local pie seller made a good living feeding cattle ranchers as they made their way through the area.
The organizers of the upcoming Pie Town Pie Festival say that when the locals petitioned for a US Post Office, the postmaster general pushed back, saying Pie Town was not an appropriate name for a municipality. The townspeople said, rightly, are you kidding?
The name stayed, like most people do when there’s pie close by.
How Lenexa became the spinach capital of the world (435 Magazine)
Kansas Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff By Pam Grout
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Lenexa’s Spinach Salad recipe photo by Kansas Tourism via Flickr/Creative Commons