Seinfeld: What's With The Candy? Why Junior Mints Are So Funny

Junior Mints being used a plot device in Seinfeld proved to be a very rewarding decision, as it helped created one of show’s most iconic episodes. How the chocolate peppermint candy was implemented into the show generated several memorable lines that still get laughs today.

The episode in question is Seinfeld season 4’s “The Junior Mint”, which dealt with Kramer’s new obsession: surgery. Fascinated by the medical practice, Kramer (Michael Richards) happily volunteered to observe a surgery performed on Roy (Sherman Howard), one of Elaine’s ex-boyfriends. During the surgery, Kramer watched above while snacking on Junior Mints, and accidentally dropped one into an open body cavity while trying to offer the piece of candy to an uninterested Jerry Seinfeld. Afterward, the cavity was sewed up with the Junior Mint still inside. Later, it was learned that Roy recovered, with his survival attributed by his doctor to a “gift from above”.

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The Junior Mint incident is hilarious, and often mentioned in discussions about Seinfeld’s best episodes, with the candy itself playing a significant role in its popularity. This was acknowledged by the episode’s writer, Andrew Robin, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. According to Robin, his original idea was to use popcorn, but his brother told him that Junior Mints are “simply funnier”. It’s arguably the idea that something as small and non-threatening as a Junior Mint can potentially ruin such an important medical procedure that made this moment so hilarious to audiences. Robin has also linked the humor behind the Junior Mints to the “comedy value of funny-sounded words and phrases”.

As good as the idea was to use Junior Mints, it never would have worked as well as did for Seinfeld without Kramer actor Michael Richards. His passionate performance when talking about Junior Mints and bewildered response to Jerry refusing to eat one added a great deal of humor to a situation that was already entertaining. One example of this is his defense for forcing a Junior Mint on Jerry Seinfeld: “Who’s gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It’s chocolate, it’s peppermint ─ it’s delicious!” His enthusiastic delivery of lines like these had a lot to do with how well the episode was received and why the Junior Mints joke was so popular. After all, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Richards' acting in this episode won him an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

The numerous mentions of Junior Mints and its large presence in the episode understandably led many to assume that the company must have paid for product placement, but that wasn’t at all the case. It was the show's intention for the candy to be in the episode, though it did seek permission to use Live Savers or M&Ms in case Junior Mints refused to allow the gag. Fortunately, Junior Mints cooperated, thus paving the way for one of most talked-about moments in Seinfeld's entire nine-season run.

More: Seinfeld: The Season 9 Controversy & Banned Episode Explained

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