I was chatting with an old friend on Facebook the other day and she said “I’m having a real Seinfeld lunch, a big salad and a black and white cookie. All that’s missing is the marble rye”. All of a sudden it struck me how much the popular TV show from the 90’s revolved around food!
These four people and the various other characters that floated in and out spent an awful lot of time in Monk’s coffee shop. How many fictional cups of coffee, pieces of pie and tuna sandwiches do you think they consumed over the course of the show?
Think of the iconic food moments from the show: Kramer cooking himself while sunbathing slathered with butter, a junior mint flying into the open belly of a surgical patient, Elaine turning a janitor’s closet into an apartment just so she can order a special kind of fish, George hauling a marble rye up 4 stories on the end of a fishing line, the black & white cookie that brought about the end of Jerry’s no-vomit streak. Hell, an entire episode took place in a Chinese restaurant while Jerry, George and Elaine were waiting for a table.
Many episode titles were inspired by the featured food item. “The Mango” revolved around faked orgasms, George’s inability to gratify his girlfriend and the affect a fresh slice of mango had on his libido. “The Non-fat Yogurt” episode was all about this alleged fat free treat and featured a clip from Rudy Gulliani admitting he was a fan of the stuff. “The Pie” involved a woman who wouldn’t taste a slice of Apple Pie and the vexation it caused. And then there was “The Big Salad”, “The Calzone”, “The Fusilli Jerry”, just to name a few.
And let’s not forget about those unmistakable personalities whose presence triggers an immediate food memory, like the Soup Nazi. To this day, when I make a pot of soup, a gruff voice in the back of my psyche echoes his famous line “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” I can’t think about Izzy Mandlebaum, played by Lloyd Bridges, without thinking about Magic Pan crepes, rolled by hand. Kenny Roger inspires a memory of roast chicken, not The Gambler.
George Costanza flew too high on wings of pastrami. He also flew half way across the country to eat too many shrimp and use his “jerk store” line on an obnoxious co-worker. Mr. Pitt started a trend by eating his candy bar with a knife and fork. Jerry uncovered the source of fleas in his apartment by finding a Chunky wrapper under his couch cushion. And the list goes on.
In the episode entitled “The Comeback”, Kramer develops a fear of falling into a coma and decides he wants to die with dignity. While crafting his living will with Elaine by his side, the attorney Shellbach, played by Ben Stein, lays out various health scenarios for which the proverbial plug would be pulled. He says “You can eat, but machines do everything else”. An expression of approval comes across Kramer’s face and he says “Well, I could still go to the coffee shop.” I think that says it all.