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"Well? How are they? Oh, they're great! They're like sex! Except I'm having them!"
Fry, eating popplers for the first time

"The Problem with Popplers" is episode 19 in the second season of Futurama. It originally aired in North America on May 7, 2000.

Story

Desperate for food after a visit to the Planet of the Moochers, the Planet Express Crew land on a swamp planet to look for Roddenberries and instead find it covered in a delectable delicacy, which they decide to sell under the name "Popplers". The crew create a catchy jingle and sell Popplers on the street for $1 a dozen, with great success. Fishy Joe makes the crew an offer to sell the treats at his chain of seafood restaurants for $2 a dozen, of which they get half.

Leela discovers the terrible truth about "Popplers".

As protesters, including "anti-food activist" Free Waterfall, Jr., rally outside the Planet Express Building, a Poppler Leela is about to eat suddenly opens its eyes and says "Mama" to her. Realizing that Popplers are intelligent, she joins the activists in protesting the trade of Popplers. At first, the crew reasonably think she is delusional, but when Professor Farnsworth suggests they painfully dissect its brain, the terrified Poppler begs for protection. Shocked, they then vow to help Leela's cause, although they do not get much headway (e.g., Fry handcuffs himself to a revolving door to stop people from going into a Fishy Joe's restaurant, leading to him literally getting walked on). A televised debate between "Fishy Joe" Gilman, Free Waterfall, Jr. and Leela is interrupted by the arrival on Earth of Lrrr and the Omicronians, who reveal that the "Popplers" are in fact their babies, with the planet Bender, Fry and Leela found being one of their nurseries. The Omicronians vow revenge for the eating of their young, the initial demand being that Earth "serve" one human for each of the 198 billion Popplers eaten. However, during negotiations with Zapp Brannigan, it is revealed that they are not enough humans on Earth for the Omicronians to eat, so they eventually settle on Leela, the discoverer of Popplers, to be presented for consumption.

Lrrr devours Free Waterfall, Jr.

While Lrrr waits to eat Leela on live television, Zapp formulates a "brilliant" plan to use an orangutan as a substitute for Leela, in the hopes that the Omicronians' inability to tell humans apart can be exploited. Kif attempts to makeover the ape as best he can. Oblivious to the danger it places Leela in, Free Waterfall, Jr. reveals that the ape is an ape: Ndnd confirms it by eating it and Lrrr demands that the real Leela be fed to him at once. Only the intervention of Jrrr, the poppler Leela didn't eat, saves her. Lrrr decides to eat Free Waterfall, Jr. instead for getting on his nerves, but becomes intoxicated as a result of eating him and the crew retires to a meal which includes a dolphin, which they deem as unintelligent because "he blew all his money on instant lottery tickets".

Ongoing Themes

Fry and Leela

While Leela awaits execution in her cage, Fry tells her that she's beautiful and a great friend.

Doppelgängers

A dolled-up orangutan takes Leela's place at the execution.

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