"Puff, the Magic Dragon" (or "Puff") is a song written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow, and made popular by Yarrow's group Peter, Paul and Mary in a 1963 recording. It turns out that the lyrics for "Puff, the Magic Dragon" were based on a 1959 poem by Leonard Lipton, a 19-year-old Cornell University student. Lipton was inspired by an Ogden Nash poem titled "Custard the Dragon", about a "realio, trulio little pet dragon."
Perhaps the most famous dragon of all, I had to start with good ole Puff. This is the image of Puff that I remember from my childhood, which came from the cartoon movie. Paving the way for all dragons everywhere, he hailed from a land called Honalee and hung with some lame kid named Jackie Paper. If you ask me, Puff was better off when Jackie grew up and forgot about him. Puff was bad-ass. He didn't need to be friends with a boy named Jackie. If I had a dragon, I would never forget about it.
After the song's initial success, speculation arose that the song contained veiled references to smoking weed. The word "paper" in the name of Puff's human friend (Jackie Paper) was said to be a reference to rolling papers, and the word "dragon" was interpreted as "draggin'," i.e. inhaling smoke; similarly, the name "Puff" was alleged to be a reference to taking a "puff" on a joint. The authors of the song have repeatedly rejected this urban leged and have strongly and consistently denied that they intended any references to drug. Uh, sure, guys... Meet the Parents got it:
Who'd have thought it wasn't about a dragon.
Well some people think that 'to puff the magic dragon' means to... puff... smoke... a marijuana cigarette.
Puff is just the name of the boy's magical dragon... You a pothead, Focker?