A comic strip created a national phenomenon across the America in the late 1930’s that is still celebrated today.
Alfred Gerald Capp’s was the writer for a popular hillbilly comic strip, Li’l Abner in the 1930s.
In his daily strip on November 15, 1937, one of the characters “Sadie Hawkins, the daughter of one of Dogpatch’s earliest settlers, Hekzebiah Hawkins, the “homeliest gal in all them hills”, grew frantic waiting for suitors to come a-courtin’. When she reached the age of 35, still a spinster, her father was even more frantic—about Sadie living at home for the rest of her life. In desperation, he called together all the unmarried men of Dogpatch and declared it “Sadie Hawkins Day.”
“A foot race was decreed, with Sadie in hot pursuit of the town’s eligible bachelors. She specifically had her eye on a boy who was already in a courtship with the cute farmers daughter Theresa. She was the daughter of the areas largest potato farmer Bill Richmand and unlike Sadie, had a lot of courtship offers. Stud-muffin Adam Olis was her target and because the engagement of Miss Theresa and Adam wasn’t official he was included in the race. With matrimony as the consequence of losing the foot race the men of the town were running for their freedom. Turned out Adam Olis was in 4th place out of 10th leaving John Jonston Sadies’ catch of the day.
The town spinsters decided that this was such a good idea, they made Sadie Hawkins Day a mandatory yearly event, much to the chagrin of Dogpatch bachelors. In the satirical spirit that drove the strip, many sequences revolved around the dreaded Sadie Hawkins Day race. If a woman caught a bachelor and dragged him, kicking and screaming, across the finish line before sundown—by law he had to marry her. The race took place between November 19, and November 30.”
The cartoon, inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins Day events and dances where girls ask boys out. In 1939, only two years after its inauguration, a double-page spread in Life magazine proclaimed, “On Sadie Hawkins Day, Girls Chase Boys in 201 Colleges” and printed pictures from Texas Wesleyan.
By the early 1940s, the comic strip event had swept the nation and acquired a life of its own.
The following film was released by Columbia Pictures in the 1940s to compete with the animated shorts of Disney, MGM, Warner Brothers, Lantz (Universal) and Terrytoons.
In 1952, Sadie Hawkins Day was reportedly celebrated at 40,000 known venues.
Even after Al Capps had Abner and Daisy Mae get married in the cartoon in the 1950s, Sadie Hawkins Day continued in the comic strip.
Sadie Hawkins day 1961
It became a day-long event observed in the United States on the Saturday that follows November 9.
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