Ever since Hansel and Gretel followed a trail of sweets to an evil witch’s doorstep, sugar has proved a powerful part of pop culture narratives. But perhaps no cultural icon has explored America’s favorite form of sugar — candy — quite like Jerry Seinfeld. Candy has cropped up in several episodes of Seinfeld, as well as in the comedian’s own stand-up routines.
Below, in honor of Eater Sweets Week, a brief rundown of the show’s best candy-filled moments:
In the aptly-titled episode “The Junior Mint,” Kramer and Jerry visit the hospital to observe an ex-boyfriend of Elaine’s undergo a splenectomy. While viewing the procedure from the gallery, Kramer decides to indulge in a box of Junior Mints — as if the entertainment value of a surgery is on par with watching a movie? Of course, Kramer accidentally drops a Junior Mint into the patient's open body cavity before it’s sewn up. Hilarity ensues when the ex-boyfriend becomes sick (likely due to the candy). Then, when he later recovers, the surgeon attributes the miraculous recovery to “something from above.”
Fun fact: According to the website Fandom, a York Peppermint Pattie was used for filming the hospital scene as a Junior Mint was too small to show up on camera.
A Pez dispenser makes a notable cameo in Seinfeld’s third season, during a piano recital by George’s then-girlfriend. While in the audience, Jerry removes his Tweety Bird Pez dispenser, eliciting a loud guffaw from Elaine. The candy sets in motion a number of plot lines: First, the pianist eventually hears Elaine laughing again, realizes it was her, and breaks up with George. It also, oddly, stirs up a childhood memory in Jerry’s friend Richie, causing him to admit a drug problem and seek help. The program is successful, though Richie becomes addicted to Pez.
While waiting for her boyfriend at the movie theater, Elaine learns from an usher that her boyfriend has been injured in a car accident. So, she does what any sane person would do: Heads to the concession stand for a box of Jujyfruit before leaving for the hospital. Said boyfriend is less than impressed.
To be fair, this episode’s candy references are a little more subtle, but it’s too good not to include. While driving down the street in Manhattan, Kramer and Seinfeld spot a woman wearing a bra sans shirt. Kramer slams on the brakes, and the two get into an accident, ultimately leading Kramer to sue the woman (who turns out to be the heiress to the Oh Henry! candy bar fortune). The episode, which aired in 1996, contains a series of references to the OJ Simpson trial, with the jury ultimately finding “the braless wonder” innocent because the bra doesn’t appear to fit.
This episode hinges around Lloyd Braun, an old friend of Jerry’s who had a mental breakdown after launching a failed political campaign. In an attempt to act “normal” around Lloyd, Jerry is somehow talked into trying an unusually-flavored Chinese chewing gum. One thing leads to another, and Jerry is eventually roped into tracking down the importer of the gum, in Chinatown.
The episode opens with a monologue on gum in which Seinfeld says, “I think gum is, is one of the weirdest human inventions. It's not a liquid, it's not a solid, it's not a food. What is it? It isn't really anything, you know. I mean, it's like a stationary bike for your jaw.”
In the season six episode, “The Pledge Drive,” Elaine’s boss, Mr. Pitt, eats his Snickers bar with a knife and fork. He unknowingly sparks a trend that makes its way around Manhattan in which M&Ms are eaten in bowls with a spoon, like cereal, and no one wants to touch candy with their hands for fear of looking like a philistine.
Tic Tacs make a few appearances in Seinfeld, most notably in season nine, when Elaine gets a new colleague that she deems “The Sidler.” The Sidler has the annoying tendency to move silently behind people, causing Elaine to spill coffee all over herself and often showing up just in time to take credit for Elaine’s work. In an effort to ensure she knows where he is at all times, Elaine tells The Sidler he has bad breath and should carry Tic Tacs with him at all times (which rattle every time he walks, so Elaine always knows where he is).
The sound plagues Elaine’s boss, Mr. Peterman, who mistakenly thinks the noise has been coming from her all along. Peterman vows to fire Elaine if he hears the sound even once more, forcing her to find an alternative breath-freshener for her colleague.
George tries to buy a Twix bar from a vending machine at a car dealership, but it gets stuck and won’t come out. When he comes back, it’s gone. He then loses his mind when he believes a mechanic stole the Twix.
Kramer launches a Peterman Reality Bus Tour, based on the lifestyle of Elaine’s boss, J. Peterman. Tickets are $37.50, and include a three-hour tour, pizza bagel, and dessert: bite-sized 3 Musketeers.
And, while the below is not from his eponymous show, it’s worth including for Jerry’s hilarious take on the ultimate candy holiday: Halloween:
• All Sweets Week Coverage [E]