Clark Gable probably never figured he could have so much influence on a vegetable.
In a scene from the 1934 movie “It Happened One Night,” his character, Peter Warne, casually leans against a roadside fence as he instructs Claudette Colbert on the proper way to hitchhike. As he details the technique — “It’s all in the thumb, see?” — he munches on a carrot.
Which, in itself, was pretty good publicity for a crunchy root veggie. But, even more importantly, when animators created Bugs Bunny, they were so inspired by Peter Warne, they made talking with a mouthful of carrot one of their character’s signature moves.
Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs for nearly 50 years, would actually chew on carrots while recording his parts. But since he wasn’t a fan of raw carrots, he would spit the chewed bits into a waste basket, once telling a reporter, “In the course of a recording session, I usually went through enough carrots to fill several.”
Around the time Bugs Bunny brought the carrot to cartoon fans everywhere, the healthy treat got another boon overseas. In England during World War II, the U.K. Ministry of Food launched a propaganda campaign that explained why the British Air Force had been so successful in gunning down German air craft.
You guessed it — carrots.
Because the British pilots munched on lots and lots of carrots, the Ministry proclaimed, they had enriched night vision, which helped them see the enemy during blackouts.
Which is a pretty good argument for anyone to eat more carrots.
That story turned out to be as reliable as Peter Warne’s hitchhiking technique. (Ultimately, it was Colbert’s sexy leg that got them a ride.) Decades after the war, rumors suggested the British Air Force wanted people to think carrots deserved all the credit when, in fact, secret radar technology deserved the fanfare.
In reality, carrots probably won’t improve your vision, unless you’re lacking in vitamin A, a problem more common in developing countries. But there are many other health benefits: Carrots can help regulate your blood sugar, offset the effects of aging and improve immune functions.
Which might explain why Bugs Bunny still looks so young and healthy after all these years.
While the voice of Bugs Bunny might not have been a fan of raw carrots, he surely would have appreciated a slice of carrot cake. After getting carrots from your local farmers’ market, check out this delicious carrot cake recipe that will have you seeing carrots in an entirely new light.