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 appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Millennium"
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"The Summer of George"
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.


The Tourist[edit]

While George and Jerry are walking down the street, a man (Barry Kramer) asks George to watch a bag of luggage for a minute. When the stranger doesn't return, George starts wearing some of the clothing from the bag, using the rationale that "I'm still watching them."[1] While he walks down the street in the tourist's clothing, looking at a map, a woman who works for the New York Visitor's Center mistakes George for a tourist and introduces herself as Mary Anne (Rena Sofer). George pretends that he's 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's interested in him, but she doesn't want to get involved, believing he'll 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 then tells George that his mind is blown about his moonlighting. Then he phones the CEO of Tyler Chicken named Don Tyler (who, like Steinbrenner, is seen from behind) to announce that he doesn't want to share George while stating that George has been dividing his time between the New York Yankees and Tyler Chicken. Tyler states that he doesn't know who he is and that if he's that important, he's not giving him up that easily. Steinbrenner then comments that Tyler is playing hardball. Tyler then 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] When Steinbrenner asks how alcoholic chicken is made, Tyler replies "Let if ferment, just like everything else." Impressed with the alcoholic chicken, Steinbrenner agrees to trade George to Tyler by stating that he will have him on the next bus to Arkansas.

At a bar, George tells the bartender how Steinbrenner traded him to Tyler Chicken. Eventually, the tourist returns for his clothing and is upset that George is wearing them in a bar. He takes his clothing off George, leaving him in his boxers.


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's fond of hairless dogs. He continues to shave his chest. Kramer warns Jerry that shaving will only accelerate the hair's growth. After Jerry was invited on the Peterman Reality Tour, Alex notices that Jerry's beard has grown. While Kramer is at the garbage dump as the full moon comes out, Jerry's chest begins itching from hair growth as Kramer searches for a dump that'll take the muffin stumps. Jerry's itching makes him run off the bus, past Kramer, and into the forest to scratch his chest. When the moon comes out, he howls like a werewolf while sighing at the relief that he can scratch his chest out in the woods.

Top of the Muffin to You![edit]

While eating a muffin at J. Peterman's book signing, Elaine mentions to Mr. Lippman (Richard Fancy), her ex-boss who was also attending the book signing, 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 her 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!" she says. Lippman replies, "No, no, it is." in a recall to "The Sniffing Accountant.") 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 by charity worker Rebecca DeMornay, they have to get rid of them somewhere else.

The Peterman Reality Tour[edit]

Kramer learns from Laney that the stories he'd sold to J. Peterman in a previous episode were put into Peterman's biography. Kramer goes to the book signing, claiming he's the "real" Peterman until he's kicked out. 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. While Elaine enters, she asks Kramer to get rid of the muffin stumps on his tour in return. Kramer has a hard time finding a dump that will take the bag of muffin stumps. At the latest dump, Jerry runs out of the bus and by him as Kramer asks "What's the matter?"


When Mary Ann comes into the bar, the bartender asks if she is looking for George. When she says yes, the bartender tells her that George is still in the bathroom. George is seen in the bathroom using its phone to call Jerry asking him to get him some clothes while mentioning that Steinbrenner traded him to Tyler Chicken. Mary Ann pops her head into the bathroom and comments that she told him that New York would "eat him alive."

Elaine eventually hires a "cleaner" for Mr. Lippman to make the muffin stump problem go away until the store gets private trash removal. The "cleaner" is Newman in a Pulp Fiction spoof as he asks for an 8 oz. glass from Mr. Lippman that would help him in removing the muffin stumps. Newman then uses four different bottles of milk when consuming the muffin stumps.

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.

The joke was spoofed again in the 2001 B-movie Deadly Scavenger, in which Tim Sullivan plays "The Doctor," who was hired because his job is "to clean things up."

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.

Lippman's declaration that the idea for selling muffin tops was "all in the air" is a reference to the cult horror film Body Parts, wherein a deranged painter (played by Brad Dourif) vehemently insists that the inspiration for his gruesome artwork is "in the air," and not derived from the amputated arm of a death row serial killer that had been transplanted onto him.

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."


  1. ^ "Script, Episode 155 - The Muffin Tops". 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. 

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