Grown ass adults tend to have selective memories about their childhoods. We might remember some off-hand comment our friend made and some details about a cartoon we liked, but we don’t necessarily remember the stuff we didn’t understand or just didn’t deem important enough to care about. That’s why it’s always interesting to look back on stuff we once loved (something we do in our Memory Wipe series), just to see all the stuff we might have glanced past. Eater did that quite well in a feature that ran Monday about “The Boozy Underbelly Of Saturday Morning Cartoons.” A tribute to all the bottles labeled “XXX” and wobbling characters we might have technically seen as children but never fully understood, the piece addresses how, in the ‘20s, “drinking quickly became as classic a cartoon trope as slipping on a banana peel.” As the piece notes, “Unchecked by the Motion Picture Production Code (which served as a set of “moral” guidelines for the film industry from 1930 to 1968), animators had free reign to make their cartoons as sopped with gin, beer, and whiskey as their hearts desired.”
There are a number of interesting examples of this within the piece, including Steamboat Willie, Pinocchio, and Dumbo, but one of the most surprising soused examples (at least to those of us who might not remember this) is Felix The Cat. As Eater says,
Chalk it up to their feline wiles or perceived aloofness, but out of all animals presented in animations, cats are most likely to indulge in liquor. The (undeniably soused) poster child for this is Felix The Cat, who is presented as something of a hard partying bad boy time and again. In 1928’s Woos Whoopee, Felix downs copious bottles of booze during a night out at the Whoopee Club—then proceeds to drive home drunk—while his wife angrily watches the clock at home. Continuing into the 1940s, Daffy Duck grabbed Felix’s torch as the cartoon character most likely to have a drinking problem, overindulging in film after film and serving as a kind of anti-hero foil to the (less intoxicated) Bugs Bunny.
The whole thing is over at Eater and is well-worth a read, especially considering some of its points are accented with charming animated gifs.