The Muffin Tops

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"The Muffin Tops"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no. Season 8
Episode 21
Directed by Andy Ackerman
Written by Spike Feresten
Production code 821
Original air date May 8, 1997
Guest actors
Season 8 episodes
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Muffin Tops" is the 155th episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 21st episode of the eighth season. It aired on May 8, 1997.

Plot[edit]

The Tourist[edit]

While George and Jerry are walking down the street, a stranger asks George to watch a bag of luggage for a minute. When the stranger doesn't return, George starts wearing some of the clothes from the bag, using the rationale that "I'm still watching them."[1] While he walks down the street in the tourist's clothes, looking at a map, a woman who works for the New York Visitor's Center (Rena Sofer) mistakes George for a tourist and introduces herself as Mary Anne. George pretends that he is visiting from Little Rock, Arkansas, where he works as a hen supervisor for the Tyler Chicken company.

They go to Monk's Café, where George continues to lie to Mary Anne about himself. George finds her attractive, and she is interested in him, but she doesn't want to get involved, believing he will be leaving soon. To prolong the relationship, he tells her he's thinking of 'moving' to New York; she replies that the city would eat him alive. George is insulted by this and sets out to prove he can get by in New York by showing her his 'new' apartment and his office where he works for the New York Yankees. Then Steinbrenner enters George's office and Mary Anne tells him of George's alleged job with Tyler Chicken.

Steinbrenner is impressed that George is moonlighting, and he phones the CEO of Tyler Chicken to announce that he does not want to share George. They haggle, and Mr. Tyler says, "How about this: you give me Costanza, I convert your concessions to all chicken, no charge. Instead of hot dogs, chicken dogs. Instead of pretzels, chicken twists. Instead of beer, alcoholic chicken."[2] Steinbrenner, piqued by the alcoholic chicken, agrees to give away George.

Eventually, the tourist returns for his clothes and is upset that George is wearing them; he takes his clothes off George, leaving him in his boxers and thereby ending his relationship with Mary Anne and getting him fired from the Yankees.

Jerry[edit]

Jerry notices his chest hair is uneven and tries to straighten it out, but ends up shaving it all off. He worries what his girlfriend Alex (Melinda Clarke) will think, until he discovers she is fond of hairless dogs. He continues to shave his chest, despite Kramer's warning about hair growth.

Top of the Muffin to You![edit]

While eating a muffin, Elaine mentions to Mr. Lippman (Richard Fancy), her former boss, that she only eats the tops, and that a store selling just the tops would be a million dollar idea. Lippman decides to start a business, called Top of the Muffin to You!, based on Elaine's idea. Elaine is outraged that he stole her idea. When the business starts to fail, Lippman asks Elaine for advice and bribes her with 30% of the profits. She tells him that he must make the whole muffin and then pop the top from the stump;[3] she also demands that he remove the exclamation point from his sign. ("It's not top of the muffin TO YOU!" Elaine says. Lippman replies, "No, no, it is.") This gives the business a boost, but leaves them with the problem of disposing of the muffin stumps. They initially give the stumps to the homeless shelter, but after complaints about the missing muffin tops, they have to get rid of them somewhere else. Elaine eventually hires a "cleaner" (Newman, in a Pulp Fiction spoof) to make the muffin stump problem go away until the store gets private garbage removal.

The Peterman Reality Tour[edit]

Kramer learns from Elaine that the stories he had sold to J. Peterman in a previous episode were put into Peterman's biography. Kramer goes to the book signing, claiming he is the "real" Peterman. He then starts conducting "The Peterman Reality Tour" on a school bus for $37.50 apiece. Kramer asks Jerry and his girlfriend to take the tour and, while Elaine enters, she asks Kramer to get rid of the muffin stumps on his tour in return. Jerry's chest begins itching from hair growth, as Kramer searches for a dump that will take the stumps. Jerry's itching makes him run into the forest to scratch his chest; when the moon comes out he howls like the Wolf Man.

Cultural references[edit]

David Sims of The A.V. Club describes this as "a spoof-heavy episode".[4]

Newman's role as "The Cleaner" is a reference to Harvey Keitel's role as "The Wolf" in Pulp Fiction. He is seen driving an Acura NSX when he arrives at the bakery, which is the same kind of car that "The Wolf" drives. There is a character known as "The Cleaner" played by Harvey Keitel in Point of No Return. Newman uses a crate of milk bottles to help dispose of the muffin stumps, which is a reference to Jean Reno's role as "Victor the Cleaner" in the film Nikita (upon which Point of No Return is based), who uses a crate of acid bottles to dispose of murder victims. This also refers to 'The Cleaner' in Leon (a.k.a. The Professional) where he is a cleaner and he "takes care of problems" and is only ever seen consuming milk. Finally, the use of milk is a reference to a series of advertisements then running for milk, in which various characters can eat cake only when they have milk to drink on hand.

There is also a reference to the film Wolf, with Jerry Seinfeld playing the role played by Jack Nicholson.

Kramer's "Peterman Reality Tour" is a direct spoof of "Kramer's Reality Tour," conducted by the real-life Kenny Kramer, the former neighbor of Larry David and inspiration for the character Cosmo Kramer. Lippman gripes that "every half-wit and sitcom star has his own book out now," a reference to Seinfeld's own book Seinlanguage. The title of J. Peterman's autobiography, No Placket Required is a parody of the Phil Collins album No Jacket Required.

Originally, George was going to claim to be an employee of the real Tyson Chicken. However, when Seinfeld inquired about the right to use their name, executives at Tyson Chicken objected to the joke about "alcoholic chicken" and the fictional "Tyler Chicken" was used in its place. One Tyson Foods Inc. spokesman, Archie Schaffer, told business news reporter Bill Bowden, "We told them the only problem we had with the whole concept was the alcoholic chickens concept didn't make a whole lot of sense to us, and it wasn't funny. Is that something you drink or a drunk chicken?" Schaffer suggested using "chicken brewskis" instead; another spokesman, Ed Nicholson, remarked, "There were some inaccuracies. George was supposed to have worked on the hen line. Of course, there is no hen line."[5]

The actor Reuven Bar-Yotam, who is seen on Kramer's "Peterman Reality Tours" bus, also appears as Shlomo in season nine's "The Frogger". The "Jiffy Dump" employee is the same man who was in charge of "Jiffy Park" in the 7th season episode "The Wig Master." The conversation even references that episode as George is told to "take it up with consumer affairs" in "The Wig Master" and Kramer can be heard yelling, "Maybe I will take it up with consumer affairs!" after being turned away.

Elaine's exchange with Lippman regarding the use of exclamation points is a reference to an earlier episode in which Elaine and Lippman had a related dispute while working at Pendant Publishing. In the earlier dispute, Lippman was against the use of exclamation points and Elaine was for it.

On the tour bus, Kramer mentions that his window is "the one that's covered with chicken wire." Later on, a scene shows the CEO's office at Tyler Chicken. There is the shadow of a window covered with chicken wire. The chicken wire is later referenced in the episode "The Voice."

Critical response[edit]

Linda S. Ghent, Professor in the Department of Economics at Eastern Illinois University, discusses some economic themes in this episode:

Elaine comes up with the idea of selling only the top parts of muffins; within days her old boss has opened a muffin-top store, capitalizing on her idea. Elaine needs protection for her idea, which is the role of the patent/trademark system. Innovation involves the introduction of a new good or new method of production or the development of a new market. Intellectual property rights provide control of distinct types of creations of the mind.[6]

Ghent also describes the "stumps" of the muffins as a lack of utility, since even homeless people won't eat them.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Script, Episode 155 - The Muffin Tops". Seinology.com. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ Riffel, Brent E. The Feathered Kingdom: Tyson Foods and the Transformation of American Land, Labor, and Law, 1930-2005. ProQuest, UMI Dissertation Publishing, 2011, p. 236.
  3. ^ "Top 15 Seinfeld Food Related Episodes". Eating the Road. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Muffin Tops". A.V. Club. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Where the Money Is... or Isn't: Tyson Made Right Decision About "Alcoholic Chickens"". Bill Bowden. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Seinfeld Economics: The Muffin Tops (Intellectual Property Rights)". Critical Commons. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Seinfeld Economics: The Muffin Tops (Stumps)". Critical Commons. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 

External links[edit]