October 19, 2007

"The Spinach Brownie."

That could be the name of a "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry's new girlfriend is a cookbook author and...
[Jessica] Seinfeld's new "Deceptively Delicious," about hiding healthy ingredients in foods children will eat, is already the best-selling book in the country, with print runs of 2.5 million through January.

But chef and baby-products mogul Missy Chase Lapine came out in April with a book, "The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals." Lapine baked her spinach brownies with Al Roker on the "Today" show; Seinfeld shared her spinach brownies with Oprah on that show last week.
Oh, of course, it's Roker. He'll do a cameo, for sure. He was in "The Cigar Store Indian" episode, which had one of the great "Seinfeld" book plot lines:
JERRY: Thanks, because I would really like... (distractedly puts coffee cup back
on the table)

GEORGE: (screaming) Aaahh!!

JERRY: Alright, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. (picks it up again)

GEORGE: But Jerry, this is not coming out!

JERRY: Just put a coffee table book over it.

GEORGE: My parents don't read! They're gonna wonder what a book is doing on the

KRAMER: Hey, hey, hey, hey. You know what would make a great coffee table book?
A coffee table book about coffee tables! Get it?
And speaking of stealing an idea... remember when Kramer had an idea for perfume that smelled like the beach:
KRAMER: You smell like the beach. What's the name of that perfume? you're wearing.

TIA: It's Ocean by CALVIN KLEIN.

KRAMER: CALVIN KLEIN? No, no. That's my idea. They, they stole my idea. Y' see I had the idea of a cologne that makes you smell like you just came from the beach.

JERRY: I know look at this [shows ad]

KRAMER: Whooo, ... That's you! What is going on here? The gyp(?) he laughs at me then he steals my idea. I could have been a millionaire. I could have been a fragrance millionaire, Jerry. ... They're not going to get away with this.
The transcriber seems to want to get Michael Richards in trouble for more politically incorrect language. The name of the character who steals the idea is Steve D'Jiff — not "the gyp" — as you can see from the episode "The Pez Dispenser" — my favorite episode — where Kramer first gets the idea for a perfume he called The Beach.

"The Spinach Brownie"... it practically writes itself:
Seinfeld and Lapine both have recipes for mashed potatoes with hidden cauliflower, grilled cheese with secret sweet potatoes, green eggs made with pureed baby spinach, and carrot-laced tacos....

[Seinfeld's publisher, Steve] Ross did admit that Lapine's agent had submitted her book to them "in May of 2006, but it was rejected."...
Oh, I can just picture the scene where Ross rejects the book. He acts so disgusted by the idea of slipping spinach into kid's brownies. Here's some inspiration from "The Pez Dispenser":
KRAMER: Go ahead smell, smell

STEVE: Yeah, so?

KRAMER: Do you recognize it? ... The beach.

STEVE: What are you talking about?

KRAMER: Oh, I'm talking about the beach.

STEVE: What about it?

KRAMER: You know the way you smell when you first come home from the beach?

Well, I want to make a cologne that captures the essence of that smell.

Oh yeah.

STEVE: That is the dumbest idea I have ever heard.

KRAMER: Oh, wait, Did you here what I just said?

STEVE: Do you think people are going to pay $80 a bottle to smell like dead fish and sea weed? That's why people take showers when the come home from the beach. It's an objectionable offensive odour.

KRAMER: So you don't think it's a good idea?
And poor Missy Chase Lapine — love the name! — is crushed. Meanwhile, Ross find the glitzy wife of some filthy rich comedian to put her imprint on the same idea. Does Mrs. Filthy Rich Comedian even cook?
As for whether [Jessica] Seinfeld actually toils over a hot stove, Ross said: "Well, I can tell you that she cooked [mac and cheese and meatballs] for us, and it was delicious. And we've heard from Jerry that he's been a guinea pig."

A spokesman for Seinfeld said, "She admits she didn't invent pureeing. But she never saw the [Lapine] book. And she worked really hard on hers."
Of course, she never saw the Lapine book! Does she even read?


Jennifer said...

My mom ordered this cookbook for me after seeing Seinfeld on Oprah. I haven't gotten it in yet. I've been mixing baby food veggies into the kids' food for-ev-ver. Lapine is hardly the originator of the idea, either.

Too bad Lapine couldn't get on Oprah. That's so George.

George M. Spencer said...

George here with today's WSJ article on the book.

This business about pureeing vegetables into kid's food has been done time and again by kids' cookbook authors. The publisher says, "There are similarities among all books that treat sneaking nutritious elements into children's food, of which...there is "practically a library."

The simple fact is that Mrs. Seinfeld has a gigantic "platform" from which her book can be marketed. And as the wife of a celebrity she's got a platform to die for. Tom Hanks' wife needs to write a book. Or maybe she already has. Julianne Moore has a children's book out. Wrote it herself apparently. Was a half-page article about it in USA Today. A half-page article!

The book business is not about 'art.' It's about moving product. Books are products. Most have shelf lives in bookstores of about 10-14 days...the period of time a book, if it's "lucky"...will sit in the front shelves in the major chain stores. After that, they're as likely to succeed as rotten fruit. If you ain't got no platform, too bad....

MadisonMan said...

I don't like the idea of making everything healthy and full of nutrients. Why not offer kids a plain old brownie -- sugar, butter, eggs, chocolate, vanilla, flour. This need to pack vitamins and minerals in snacks makes no sense to me, and I think it makes it hard for a kid to learn how to eat healthily. It's not like the corner bakery is going to start offering spinach brownies.

If a kid grows up on hidden vegetables, and the kid never learns to cook or even worse enjoy plain spinach, or rutabaga, or beets -- what happens when they're old and Mom is no longer there to slip spinach surreptitiously into their diet?

These shortcuts can make the parent feel good about vitamineralizing their kids' diets, but it does no good in the long run.

Jennifer said...

MadisonMan - I haven't read the book yet, so I don't know what she says about this. As for me, I always serve vegetables on top of adding them in to what I'm cooking. I'm trying to teach them to eat and enjoy vegetables while making sure that they are getting important nutrients at the same time. I don't, however, sneak veggies into brownies or any such thing. Some things should just be bad for you. :)

Ann Althouse said...

"If a kid grows up on hidden vegetables, and the kid never learns to cook or even worse enjoy plain spinach, or rutabaga, or beets -- what happens when they're old and Mom is no longer there to slip spinach surreptitiously into their diet?"

I've got an idea for a children's cookbook. Don't steal it! It's about moving from the hiding the spinach stage, to cooking with the child and letting the child see the spinach going into the already loved meal -- handling that well. Or gradually adding more or more coarsely chopped vegetables. Etc. etc.

Trooper York said...

Don't you just hate it when someone quotes long snatches of dialogue from some stupid TV show in their posts. Jeeezh Louise!

hdhouse said...

If you don't keep junk food around and are careful to "buy color", eat light, etc., then you may not need tricks and disguises.

does spinach taste as "good" as cheese doodles and chocolate milk? nope. but if you don't eat cheese doodles and chocolate milk it does.

rhhardin said...

I always liked spinach. I had a full frozen brick of it just the other day. Sprinkle on a few drops of water and nuke for 8 minutes in loosely covered container.

I may write a cookbook.

Trooper York said...

George, you are just pissed off because the killed independant George.

George M. Spencer said...


I've pissed because my Jenna's book is only #373 on Amazon.

PatCA said...

This book was also marketed because Jerry's movie was coming out at the same time. One week Jessica's on Oprah, the next week Jerry.

Oprah has some of the recipes on her site, and they're disappointing. I thought they were a legal way to cheat and eat whatever you want, but they're just brownies (bad) with a little veggie (good) filler.

The family's chef has also been mentioned in other articles, so if the girl does cook, it's puree Sunday and that's it!

Trooper York said...

Wow, you got a book out about noose town so quickly, very impressive.

paul a'barge said...

plagiarism isn't funny.

Jeremy said...

paul -
Please site your source on that.

MadisonMan said...

jeremy, did you click the first link in Ann's story?

George M. Spencer said...

Just a dog with a bone on this, but the NYT article contains hilarious quotes....

"I'm not in this for a competition, I'm in this to help families."--Jessica Seinfeld

"My wife isn't in this for the money or the publicity." --Jerry Seinfeld

Also, note that the NYT says Mrs. Seinfeld "worked with" a chef and a nutritionist "on the book."

And she also got her book deal because she cooked three dishes for her publisher, "'impressing editors."

Chip Ahoy said...

The brilliant thing about the coffee table book about coffee table books was the book's pop- out legs which turned the book into a coffee table.

reader_iam said...

I couldn't agree more strongly with madisonman's 7:59 comment (or Ann's followup to it, for that matter).

The other piece of advice I'd give is one I followed with regard to my son and am so glad I did. I believed it when I was told by my pediatrician that "it might take 25-30 times offering something for a kid to accept it, so stick with it!" And so I did. (He also emphasized "wide variety" of foods, preferably "real," and increasingly prepared in a variety of ways.)

It's been my observation that parents (including all of our collective siblings) give up after just a few times and end up validating "oh, my kid's just a picky eater; she's never liked xx," with predictable results.

PatCA said...

"I'm not in this for a competition, I'm in this to help families."--Jessica Seinfeld

$500K would set us up for life. A snug, warm house, filled with organic veggies. I'd even pay it back (at lower than prime, of course, since you're offering to help) or try to, anyways.

blogging cockroach said...

believe me i'm not a picky eater
and neither is the 11 year old tommy
whose computer i'm using
he eats salads and broccoli and every vegetable
you can imagine every night except when he's
visiting friends where the only food they can agree on is pizza
his mom did this by just serving salads and broccoli
and every vegetable you can imagine every night
of his little life

mom and dad would only sneak things like antibiotics
into chocolate pudding etc never a vegetable
you can imagine my surprise when i was feasting on
some nice leftover pudding when yecch
there was this horrible metallic aftertaste
i thought it was curtains as someone probably put
some of the dreaded i-word in it as a trap
no worry it was only tetracycline
did wonders for the rash on my legs

that experience really put me off of sneaking things into food

but the strange thing is tommy will eat every vegetable
you can imagine except mashed potatoes
they make him gag and you don't want to know the rest
he and his brother can't get enough of brussels sprouts
go figure

as you would probably guess, i'm sensitive to the issue of
plagiarism but of course i don't make any money
and i don't plagiarize terribly well either
so sue me copyright holders

blogging cockroach said...

has anyone else noticed that
jessica seinfeld has a smile just like barney

Anonymous said...

You must be John McKay. His schtik was reprising Archie as a blogging cockroach a while back.

Or is yours a redux of a revival?

Mortimer Brezny said...

KRAMER: Jerry!

JERRY: What?

KRAMER: Jerry!

JERRY: What, Kramer?! What is it?

KRAMER: Check out this noose --


Jeremy said...

Yes I did. I meant the source of the claim that plagerism isn't funny. You know, as though he hadn't made it up but had aped it from somewhere else.

Just trying to be cute.

blogging cockroach said...

no i am not john mckay
and i certainly don't want to be

actually i'm not a reincarnated vers libre poet either
although a literary background would come in handy sometimes
no i'm sorry to say i have the soul of a 12-tone composer
who died a while back and all i can figure
is that this is karmic punishment
for writing all that crap
what i would really like to claim is that
i have the reincarnated soul of david brinkley
but that would be an obvious and dastardly lie

Anonymous said...

Well, then, there have been at least a couple of blogging cockroaches and the original literary one, to date.

But at least it's not a full-blown infestation, yet :)

Unknown said...

My personal favorite is putting what Maxine smokes into my brownies, cookies, corned beef hash, rice, mashed potatoes, jelly, butter, roast beef, chicken and of course ice cream.

Unknown said...

paul a'barge said..."plagiarism isn't funny."

Only YOU could come up with such a lame comment.

MadisonMan said...

Jeremy, next time I'll duck as the joke zooms over my head :)

Unknown said...