The Sponge

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"The Sponge"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no. Season 7
Episode 9
Directed by Andy Ackerman
Written by Peter Mehlman
Production code 709
Original air date December 7, 1995
Guest actors

Scott Patterson as Billy
Jennifer Guthrie as Lena
David Byrd as Roger Hoffman

Season 7 episodes
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Sponge" is the 119th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the ninth episode for the seventh season. It aired on December 7, 1995.


Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer are at Monk's Cafe and they mention that Jerry still wears a size 31 pair of jeans. Kramer also mentions the female contraceptive sponge is being taken off the market. Kramer passes both of them an AIDS Walk sheet for them to sign. While reading the list of signatures Jerry sees a girl's name (Lena, played by Jennifer Guthrie) whom he once met, but does not know her unlisted number. Jerry takes down the number and calls the girl. George and his fiancée Susan get into a fight about sharing their secrets; in order to get back into her good graces, George tells her that Jerry does not actually wear size 31 jeans.

Meanwhile, Elaine goes on a 25-block radius hunt to find the contraceptive sponges. When she finally arrives at a pharmacy which still carries them, she purchases a full case at Pasteur Pharmacy from a pharmacist named Roger Hoffman (David Byrd), who acts a little suspicious since Elaine wants a whole case. Her limited supply requires that she restrict her usage. She puts her current boyfriend, Billy (Scott Patterson), through a rigorous examination to make sure he is "sponge-worthy". Jerry tells George that he found his new girlfriend on the AIDS Walk list. George then tells Susan against Jerry's wishes. Susan then tells her friend, who tells a friend until the phone tree reaches Lena. When George comes to Jerry's apartment, Jerry tells him that he is "out of the loop" because he told Susan about Jerry. When Jerry later learns from Lena that she doesn't mind him taking her number from the AIDS Walk list, he gets turned off from her being "too good" and that he doesn't want to be with someone who is "giving and caring and genuine concerned about the welfare of others."

When Kramer takes part in the AIDS Walk, he refuses to wear an AIDS ribbon in opposition to "ribbon bullies", led by Bob and Cedric from "The Soup Nazi" episode. (The storyline appeared to be based on the real-life controversy of former Days of Our Lives actress Deidre Hall, who (in 1993) publicly refused to wear AIDS ribbons at public events, such as the Daytime Emmys. Hall claimed that the volunteers who passed out the ribbons bullied celebrities into wearing the ribbons.) When they and several walkers confront Kramer about the ribbon, he states he doesn't want to wear it since he lives in America, culminating in the group to attack Kramer; he attempts to flee up a fire escape, but is dragged down and attacked.

At Lena's, Jerry finds out that she has a lifetime supply of contraceptive sponges (assuming the boxes shown are all she has, there are approximately 720 sponges) and realizes that "she is depraved." While trying to disguise that he has seen the sponges, he tells her his secret about his jeans and she dumps him - she figures he is not "sponge-worthy". Later at the AIDS Walk, Jerry and George see Kramer (disheveled after getting attacked by the "ribbon bullies") stumble across the finishing line; Jerry, however, assumes this was because Kramer had exhausted himself (from running up several flights of stairs and having a poker game the night before the Walk). George then asks Kramer where his ribbon is, causing Kramer to look up at him in despair.

At Elaine's, she presumably ends her relationship with Billy since she still plans on conserving her sponges.

Original story ideas[edit]

When Peter Mehlman originally wrote this episode, it included several storylines which never made it into the final episode. These included a story in which Kramer and Newman bought stock in a company that sells over-the-counter contraceptive devices because Kramer had heard that the sponge was going out of business, and that this other company would capitalize on this. Then, in order to improve on their investment, Kramer and Newman go to Wall Street in order to start a buyout rumor on their company by whispering loudly about it at brokerage houses, so that their stock would go five or 10 points before they sell. It was at this point in the show's original story that Kramer shared his scheme with Elaine and told her about the sponge; she immediately panics and rushes off to buy as many sponges as possible. However their plan backfires when they have a fight with an obnoxious guy in an elevator at Wall Street and a negative rumor about the company they've invested in is immediately generated.

George's story was originally different too, and was later modified to fit in with season seven's story arc of his engagement to Susan. In its original conception George meets a girl who argues that she and George are so like each other, that if they dated, they would have great sex for about ten days and then hate each other and split up. George, seizing the opportunity, wonders out loud if there would be any problem if they stayed with each other for a week and then, by mutual consent, they would call it quits. That way they could have all the pleasure without any of the pain. George is on the edge of victory when he learns that the girl likes a certain type of contraceptive and the entire West Side has been cleared of the product by Elaine.

Jerry's story was much the same as it is in the final episode, except when his girlfriend asks him if he donates to AIDS charities, he says he does and blurts out the name of Kramer and Newman's company. Jerry's girlfriend, believing in his ramblings about this terrific company and its AIDS research capacity, buys 5,000 shares, just in time for the negative rumors to take hold, and Kramer and Newman's stock's price falls through the floor.[1]

Option pricing[edit]

A paper by Avinash Dixit used this episode to explore an option value problem in determining the "spongworthiness" of potential partners.[2][3]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Dixit, Avinash (2012). "An Option Value Problem from Seinfeld.". Economic Inquiry 50 (2): 563-565. doi:10.1111/j.1465-7295.2011.00377.x. 
  3. ^ Pilon, Mary (21 July 2010). "The Economics of ‘Seinfeld’". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 

External links[edit]