Would “Welsh rabbit” provoke nightmares too?

Some recent discussion prompted me to add Origins of the Sunday Comics to my read-if-you-get-to-it list, and their recent excursion into Dream of the Rarebit Fiend from 1913 has been an eye opener. This episode differs from the ones right before it in not having the nightmare dreamer awaken in bed to regret consuming the rarebit.

The Wikipedia article for Rarebit comic has an appreciative essay.


  1. Wow. This has a bit of a Zippy the Pinhead vibe to me, it’s so surreal.

    So the idea is that the protagonist is actually driving a carriage and fell asleep at the “wheel”? Guess that’s an early Tesla model he’s driving (yes, I know horses are smart enough to keep going on a known route).

  2. This was actually a plot of a “Gomer Pyle, USMC” episode. Gomer partakes of Welsh rarebit and in his sleep is a barking drill sergeant. He ascribes his taste for the stuff to “gluttony gluttony gluttony.”

  3. @Daniel J Drazen, that’s remarkable. Obviously they wouldn’t have hit on Welsh rarebit out of the blue and must have been aware of the comics series.

    @Phil Smith III, yes that seems to be the story. But his disturbed sleep was due not (or not only) to the carriage continuing on the way; it was mostly from indigestion due to consuming some rarebit, here described rather than named.

    For comparison, here are the two episodes just before this one in the GoComics feed:

  4. Rarebit, eh? Interesting. I usually take mushrooms to get these effects. Time to find a new dealer.

  5. Hard to imagine this strip running in mainstream papers today. And what would the modern nightmares be…”My iPad/phone/laptop is…”? COVID?? Ukraine??? Not that they didn’t have plenty of horrors then, but it’s my impression that the average Joe worried about them less, being more focused on his own problems. Perhaps I’m naive.

  6. Here’s a fun review of a collection of the Rarebit Fiend strips. The description of the book itself is amusing.


    While we’re at it, here’s a nice essay on McCay’s Little Nemo strips to compare against the Rarebit Fiend.. https://www.museumofdreams.org/little-nemo-in-slumberland

    This article mentions that those strips are available online at the Comics Library (which is also comprised of Rarebit Fiend and Krazy Kat as well): http://www.comicstriplibrary.org/search?search=little+nemo

  7. Jesse Reklaw used to do a strip called “Slow Wave”, which was people’s dreams sent to him which he illustrated. It was twice nominated for an Ignatz, but sadly he stopped doing it around 2012 and — worse — took it all down. Two books were made, the second of which at least appears to be still available….

    On his site there is a cat comic he seems to do now…

  8. PS – does anybody know if there is ANY truth to the cheese-near-bedtime = bad dreams idea?

  9. It’s not just cheese. Ebenezer Scrooge initially blamed his Christmas Eve hallucinations on undigested food — more gravy than grave, he said.

    It was certainly a pervasive belief for a while, and remains so today. But I’m not aware of any scientific evidence for it. “As for late-night eating directly causing nightmares, small studies of individuals who ate immediately before sleep have not shown a consistent relationship.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/do-people-really-get-nightmares-from-eating-late)

  10. Paying $50 to catch a ship in 1913 would be equivalent to paying $1,400 today. That would be a hack driver’s dream not a nightmare.

  11. I think we have discussed rarebit before, but IIRC from what I’ve read, indigestion was thought to disturb sleep. Also, IIRC the newspaper publisher suggested to McCay the premise of the rarebit induced dreams. It appears to be an old wives’ tale.

    Interestingly, one result to appear in a quick Google Book search is a story from 1899 whereby the characters eat a large meal including Welsh Rarebit prior to riding nightmares (horselike creatures) at night. The meal they consumed would indeed appear to cause indigestion in anyone.


  12. Generally, everyone dreams several times a night. We only remember ones that happen right as we wake up. Indigestion that causes wakefulness could lead to the idea that the dreams are caused by that, when it’s just the realization that dreams happened.

  13. A favorite had a young woman dreaming her little dog was stuck on a railroad track. Unable to free him, she punches the oncoming engine into wreckage ala Popeye. When she wakes up, the little dog is looking at her and there’s major damage to the wall right next to the bed — a rare instance of an actual gag in the last panel.

    Another had a young lady dining with boring braggart. She tries to point out that a puppy beneath the table is growing to elephantine proportions, but he just drones on. In the last panel she awakes — still at the table, her companion unaware she fell asleep.

  14. @Fizzle, not necessarily.

    In 2020, the relative values of $50.00 from 1913 ranges from $978.00 to $26,400.00.

    $1,400 is just a basic price index inflation comparison which doesn’t take account of people (on the whole) getting better off. $50 earnings in 1913 is the equivalent of at least $6,800 today.

    It’s quite an interesting topic. https://www.measuringworth.com/

  15. “I dreamed I ate a giant marshmallow and when I woke up my pillow was gone.” — some 1960’s D.J. who told jokes between records.

  16. And speaking of rarebit, here’s an odd mention:

    The GoComics comments were pretty helpful in attempting to specify what forms of ersatz pizza would have been meant by “Italian rarebit”.

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