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Vulture Asks: What’s Your Favorite Seinfeld Moment?

Seinfeld (NBC) Season 7, 1995-1996Episode: The Soup Nazi Original Air Date: November 2, 1995Shown: Larry Thomas (as Soup Nazi)
Seinfeld (NBC) Season 7, 1995-1996 Episode: The Soup Nazi Original Air Date: November 2, 1995 Shown: Larry Thomas (as Soup Nazi) Photo: NBC

Everyone has a favorite Seinfeld moment. The show was too popular and too iconic for that not to be the case. We’d love for you to tell us yours in thc comments below. But first, let us share ours. There is some overlap, some personal anecdotes, and a lot of nostalgia. Enjoy and just remember to say, “Vandelay.”

Margaret Lyons
So I still ‘ship Jerry and Elaine. Hard. Which means my favorite episodes revolve around the two of them as a possible couple. Season two’s “The Deal,” in which they try to be no-strings-attached sex buddies, is great for their mutual faux-innocence — oh, me?  — and Elaine’s understated heartbreak. “Who wouldn’t want this, that, and the other?” Jerry asks, sort of rhetorically. (“This” is friendship, “that” is sex, and “the other” is a real relationship.) “You don’t,” Elaine replies. Ooof. Then in season five’s “The Mango,” the tables turn a bit when Elaine confesses that she faked orgasms with Jerry. Suddenly his desperation to prove himself takes over his whole life, and eventually Elaine relents. The show seems to insist that Jerry and Elaine don’t “work” as a couple, but whatever. They so do.

Kyle Buchanan
I’m gonna pick this scene from “The Mango” where Elaine reveals to Jerry that she faked all of her orgasms with him. Every single one of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s line readings is so contagiously funny (“Fake, fake, fake, fake”), and it’s not like they’re all gut-busters on the page … Elaine is mostly just reacting and parroting back at Jerry for the whole scene. This moment showed me what a great comic actress can do, because Julia Louis-Dreyfus has an unerring ability to find the funny, wherever it may be.

Gilbert Cruz
“The Face Painter” aired in May 1995. I was 13 years old. A year earlier, the New York Rangers had won the Stanley Cup and had introduced me to the joys of hockey. So I understood the extremes of sports fandom, if only briefly. And I swear to God, whenever I see the Devils logo or hear anyone mention the Devils, this is what I think of. Imagine two bespectacled barely teenage boys running around mimicking Puddy and the Spanish-speaking priest at every turn. 

Lindsey Weber
I first watched much of Seinfeld on syndication — before dinner or after dinner, like the appetizer or dessert course buffering our nightly family dinner. That’s why my favorite Seinfelds are always about some sort of food. Seinfeld did such a great job furthering my Jewish culture education by giving funny, usable context to Yiddish words — mostly the rude ones my parents would jokingly throw around, but it was also a language my grandmother spoke fluently. It’s like listening to Shakira in Spanish class: Here’s the real-life way that people actually use this language. In “The Fatigue,” Kramer gets Frank to help him cook the “authentic Jewish delicacies”: tsimmis, kreplach (“It’s an acquired taste”), latkes, brisket, kugel, stuffed cabbage, kishkas — even Purim-only cookies hamentashen somehow end up at the mixer. Plus: There was nothing my parents found funnier than to watch Kramer quickly devolve into a stressed-out Jewish bubbie: “Eat, eat! You’re skin and bones!” And at that point in time, anything my parents laughed at, I laughed at. (Even if, at that time, I thought stuffed cabbage was disgusting. Now that I’m older, I think it’s slightly less disgusting.)

Joe Adalian
I don’t know that I’ve actually watched a full episode of Seinfeld again since it went off the air. (Treasonous, I know!) My lack of interest in reliving the show’s greatest moments has less to do with how much I liked the series (I loved it) and perhaps more to do with the fact that I was a rookie reporter at the New York Post during its final four seasons. Long before the era of episodic recaps and spoilers, the Post covered Seinfeld with the sort of intensity usually reserved for Gracie Mansion or crooked cops. Anything even remotely interesting about the show warranted coverage; anything really interesting demanded blanket reportage by a team of Post correspondents. The November 1995 Soup Nazi episode fell squarely in the latter category, and the Post was up to the challenge.

I don’t remember how or when, but very soon after the episode aired, we’d discovered the Seinfeld scribes (led by episode writer Spike Feresten) had based their human Grumpy Cat on an actual Manhattan small businessman, Al Yeganeh. Like actor Larry Thomas’s character, there really was a guy who made customers line up a certain way in order to enjoy his delicious culinary creations. The city desk quickly dispatched someone to visit his midtown eatery to establish just how vicious Yeganeh was with customers. I may or may not have interviewed Yeganeh by telephone (sadly, the Post’s online archives don’t go back to 1995), but I definitely wrote many stories about the episode, and the fallout. We wrote about Yeganeh’s initial anger (or was it “anger”) over his portrayal as a “Nazi,” how New Yorkers were lining up in the cold to get a taste of the soup Seinfeld made famous, and how the writers came up with the idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if we, like New York Magazine, called up Abe Foxman and got him to decry the use of the word Nazi in a catchphrase. The best part of covering the Soup Nazi episode? For the next few months, PR folks looking to get reporters’ attention would shamelessly send over steaming bowls of soup from the Soup Guy. I’m not saying I could be bought for some split pea, but …

Amanda Dobbins
My honorary mentions are any episode featuring Elaine in a floral, preferably floor-length dress, but “The Dealership” wins because 1. don’t take me to Arby’s, and 2. “THEY’RE ALL TWIX!” “They were all Twix” is not a sentiment I can argue with.

John Sellers
Picking your favorite moment of Seinfeld is like singling out the best nap you ever had: They all kind of blend together but you know that each was wonderful in its own way. But of course, dozens, if not hundreds, stand out from the blur. While plenty of iconic moments happened in the second half of the show’s long run, any moment I’d anoint as being my “favorite” would have to come from the stretch in season three and four that I feel marks the show’s creative sweet spot. Take the “second spitter” JFK parody in season three’s “The Boyfriend.” I’d never seen anything like that on prime-time TV up to that point; it seemed more like something you’d see on The Kids in the Hall or Saturday Night Live.

But the best part of that episode, and what I believe is the greatest Seinfeld moment ever, is George Constanza’s desperate attempt to lie his way into having his unemployment benefits extended. He tells the humorless paper-pusher that he’d just interviewed with a latex manufacturer called Vandelay Industries and gives out Jerry’s phone and address as a contact. After racing to Jerry’s in time to alert his friend that the unemployment office would be calling to fact-check, he heads off to the toilet, crucially failing to inform Kramer of his scam. When the unemployment office calls, Kramer picks up the phone and before George can take action, says, “No, you’re way off-base — not even close. This is an apartment.” Too late, George bursts out of the bathroom yelling “Say Vandelay! Say Vandelay!” and falls to the floor with his pants around his ankles. Cut to Jerry opening the door and then, via Jerry-cam, the image of George’s defeated butt in billowing white boxers; Jerry sums it all up, perfectly, with “And you want to be my latex salesman …” It’s as frantic and carefully orchestrated as the Vitameatavegamin or candy factory bits from I Love Lucy, and seemed enough reason to induct Seinfeld into my own personal TV hall of fame after only 35 episodes.

Jesse David Fox
There’s plenty from Seinfeld I use in my everyday life yada yada and that was my favorite moment. You can’t yada yada a blurb! Fine. While I hate that the term “double dipping” caught on, because it has made my guac consumption less efficient, I truly love saying, “Who is this?” It was always my favorite bit from the show. I think if I had to pick one singular moment, it was in “The Checks,” when George called in a huff and Jerry goes, “Uncle Leo?” And I find myself saying it or at least thinking it to myself on almost every single incoming call I get. Having caller ID only makes it sillier.

What’s Your Favorite Seinfeld Moment?