How The Polio Vaccine Led to ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ in Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins’


At some point during the Christmas Holidays we will find ourselves on our sofas, watching this Disney timeless classic, and singing along about how a ‘Spoonful of Sugar, makes the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.’

But what we don’t know is just how this song made it to the final cut of the musical score, and, well there couldn’t be a more timely period of time to find this out.



Jeffrey Sherman, the son and nephew of the Sherman Brothers, the musical geniuses who didn’t just give us Mary Poppins but even the music of The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Aristocats and the ‘It’s a Small World After All’ Ride Song at Disneyland – shared the story of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ on Facebook.

He wrote:

“When I was a kid, they rolled out a vaccine for polio. We were given it at school on a sugar cube. I went home and my dad, who was working on Mary Poppins, asked how my day was.

What I didn’t know was that Julie Andrews who was hired to play Mary had not really liked the song my dad and uncle had written -‘Through the Eyes of Love’ – and it was rejected. It was their favorite song for the movie.



Walt asked the Sherman Brothers to come up with a new song that would be in line with Mary’s //Julie’s philosophy.

Dad asked me how my day was and I told him about getting the polio vaccine at school.

I was known for rejecting the booster shots at my doctors’ office and running away.

He said, ‘Didn’t it hurt?’

I told him they put it on a sugar cube and you just ate it.

He stared at me, then went to the phone and called my uncle Dick.

They went back to the office and wrote -‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ (‘Helps the Medicine Go Down.’)

It’s my little corner of film music history I suppose. Inadvertently.”



“For anyone I know here on FB, trust the doctors. When the vaccine for Covid comes out, get it.
We are all codependent on each other in this pandemic. Trust science and doctors and epidemiologists.
We are a small world and we will beat this enemy if we listen to those who know.
Be safe. Wear a mask. Be kind and thoughtful and considerate to your fellow man and woman,” Sherman wrote!




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