Mickey Mouse on Speed (Mickey Mouse and the Medicine Man)
The following mini comic book was part of a promotional collaboration between Walt Disney and General Mills in 1951. It features Mickey and Goofy, two distinct psychoactive drugs, surreptitious dosing, a bad shaman, and a "talking" elephant. When it was first produced, it was one of an 8-comic set that cost 15 cents plus one Wheaties-brand cereal box top.
It is one of several psychoactive drug-related uses of Disney characters that in retrospect appear naive and inappropriate. This commercial, drug-positive use of characters designed for children raises a number of issues of historical interest. The ethnocentric cultural references, including the representation of Africans and the superiority of American medications, stand out even against the odd amphetamines-are-good-for-you backdrop. It is notable that Mickey Mouse gives powerful drugs to two other characters without their knowledge or consent.
During the 1950s, at the height of the post-World War II expansion of U.S. suburban modernization, a number of stimulant and sedative drugs were widely used and were promoted in the mainstream press. At the time, many were available over the counter without a prescription. The inclusion of clear, positive drug references in mainstream children's literature and film seems both archaic and surprising given the taboos around psychoactive drugs in place in the 21st century. We hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into the history of Disney's characters that Disney itself is unlikely to acknowledge in the modern anti-drug cultural climate.