If one of your secret fantasies is to one day walk up to actor Jason Alexander and tell him that he can't have any soup, that day is almost here. Tomorrow, Alexander will be serving up soup samples from noon to 3:30 p.m. at Pavilions in Burbank. It's all part of a promotion for the nationwide launch of The Original SoupMan brand in grocery stores.
Alexander gained fame on Seinfeld, playing the role of bumbling George from 1990 to 1998. There were so many classic George moments (several involving food) that it's hard to pick a favorite, but one certainly has to be the “Soup Nazi,” which aired during the show's seventh season in 1995.
In that episode, Kramer tells his friends about his discovery of a great soup shop and off they go. Despite being warned not to annoy the proprietor, lunch doesn't go smoothly. George, naturally, messes up the ordering ritual by asking why he didn't get any free bread. This results in his soup being yanked away and the iconic reprimand being hurled at him: “No soup for you!” That line quickly entered popular lexicon and it turned the spotlight onto soup-maker Al Yeganeh, the inspiration for the temperamental character, who reportedly was none too pleased. According to The New York Times, Yeganeh claimed the episode ruined his personal life.
But Yeganeh, who was making acclaimed broths, bisques and chowders long before being discovered by Seinfield, has built a soup empire, SoupMan, Inc., parent company of The Original Soupman brand. From his humble beginnings serving soups in 1984 at a small shop in New York City, he has parlayed his cooking skills and sitcom fame into an expanding business, selling soups on TV, restaurants, franchises and school lunch programs.
This Zagat-rated venture brings four varieties — Lobster Bisque, Chicken Noodle, Lentil and Tomato Bisque — to grocery store soup aisles. The soups are packaged in BPA-free Tetra Recart cartons, an alternative to cans or plastic. Suggested retail price is around four dollars for a two-serving carton. Yeganeh's unsmiling face is featured on the cartons.
Alexander is a partner in the business, along with former basketball great Shaquille O'Neal and baseball legend Reggie Jackson. The co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, Tim Gannon, is the company culinary and business director.
“Many people don't know our famous 'soup kitchen' episode on Seinfeld was inspired by an actual soup restaurant off 8th Avenue in New York,” Alexander said in a press release. “The soup recipes created by Al Yeganeh are considered by me and thousands of New Yorkers as some of the best soups in the world…I'm hoping everyone will come to enjoy the soup so many have been lining up for years to get. And don't worry, nothing can go wrong. 'Cause this time – well, it's soup for everybody.”
We thought about trying to interview Al Yeganeh but we chickened out after reading his “rules for press,” which forbid anyone from mentioning the famous Seinfeld moniker. If you do, we're pretty sure he yells, “No interview for you!”
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