"The Soup Nazi" is the 116th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which was the sixth episode of the seventh season. It first aired in the United States on November 2, 1995.
The Soup Nazi is also the nickname of the eponymous character, Yev Kassem, played by Larry Thomas. The term "Nazi" is used as an exaggeration of the excessively strict regimentation he constantly demands of his patrons. (compare Grammar Nazi)
Jerry, George and Elaine patronize a new soup stand Kramer has been praising. Jerry explains that the owner, Yev Kassem, is known as the "Soup Nazi" due to his temperament and insistence on a strict manner of behavior while placing an order.
At the soup stand, George tells the cashier that he didn't receive any bread with his order. Kassem says bread is two dollars. George complains that other customers received free bread, to which Kassem first responds by saying the bread is now three dollars, then decrees "No soup for you!" George's order is quickly taken away, and his money returned.
En route to the soup stand with Jerry and George, Elaine notices a guy on the sidewalk with an giant armoire for sale. She decides to forego the soup in favor of buying the armoire. However, her building superintendent informs her that furniture move-ins are not allowed on Sundays, so she asks Kramer to watch the armoire and promises to get soup from Kassem for him in return.
On a subsequent visit, George successfully manages to buy soup (bread came with it this time), but Elaine, having ignored Jerry's advice on how to order, quickly draws Kassem's ire and she is banned for a year. During this time, two thieves (Bob and Cedric) intimidate Kramer and steal the armoire.
Later, Jerry and his current girlfriend Sheila (Alexandra Wentworth) visit the soup stand. Kassem is repulsed by their public displays of affection, so Jerry disavows knowing Sheila to stay on Kassem's good side. Jerry talks about the situation with George, who has expressed disgust at Jerry's "baby talk". Jerry admits he behaved facetiously with Sheila at the soup stand and vows to redeem himself. George considers this and begins to behave similarly with Susan to express his disgust, but Susan instead takes this as a sign of George expressing their love in public.
Some time later, Kramer, who has befriended Kassem, tells him about the armoire theft. Kassem offers him an antique armoire he has in storage as a replacement. Elaine is elated, and goes to Kassem to thank him. When Kassem learns the armoire was for Elaine, he says he would have rather destroyed it than give it to her. Upset, Elaine returns to her apartment with Jerry, where they discover the armoire is filled with Kassem's soup recipes. Elaine returns to the soup stand and confronts Kassem with the recipes, intent on ruining his business in revenge for mistreating her.
Jerry encounters Newman, who is running to get a pot from his apartment. Newman tells him that because of what Elaine said to Kassem, he is closing down his stand and returning to Argentina and giving away whatever soup he has left. Jerry quickly runs home to follow Newman's lead.
"The Soup Nazi" was Spike Feresten's first credited Seinfeld episode as a writer. The idea for the episode arose when Feresten told Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David about New York soup vendor Ali "Al Yeganeh", who was nicknamed "The Soup Nazi." Seinfeld and David laughed and said, "That's a show. Do that as your first show." Feresten's inspiration for the armoire subplot was a New York apartment building in which he had lived, which forbade moving furniture on certain days. The armoire thieves were written as homosexual because Larry David decided that "only gay guys would steal an armoire."
The first cast table reading for "The Soup Nazi" was held on September 28, 1995, and it was filmed before a studio audience on October 3. In the episode, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) imitates Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. This was done at Jerry Seinfeld's suggestion, even though Louis-Dreyfus had never seen the film.
The Soup Nazi was portrayed by Larry Thomas, who was nominated for a 1996 Emmy for the role. Thomas, who did not realize that the character was based on a real person, received the inspiration for his portrayal from watching Lawrence of Arabia and studying Omar Sharif's accent.
A stone-faced immigrant chef with a thick Stalin-esque moustache, he is renowned throughout Manhattan for his soups. He demands that all customers in his restaurant meticulously follow his strict queuing, ordering, and payment policies. Failure to adhere to his demands brings the stern admonition ("No soup for you!"), whereupon the customer is refunded and denied his or her order. He will then yell at the top of his lungs to the next person in line, "Next!" Elaine parodies this when she reveals that she has his recipes. She says to him, "You're through, Soup Nazi. Pack it up. No more soup for you. NEXT!"
The Soup Nazi has a cameo in the Seinfeld series finale, in which his true name is revealed, but which he refuses to spell when asked by District Attorney Hoyt. He tells Hoyt about how he banned Elaine from his shop, only for her to return and ruin his business, forcing him to move to Argentina. Elaine angers him by claiming his soup was no good. During the recess, he is seen serving soup to Robin, Mr. Lipman, Poppie and Babu Bhatt. Poppie appears to ask for salt with his soup, whereupon Kassem takes his soup away. He is present and obviously satisfied when Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer are found guilty and sent to prison.
The character was inspired by Al Yeganeh, a soup vendor who runs Soup Kitchen International in New York City. Yeganeh has stated on numerous occasions that he is very offended by the "Soup Nazi" moniker.
According to writer Spike Feresten, Jerry Seinfeld and several members of the production team went to Soup Kitchen International for lunch weeks after "The Soup Nazi" aired. Upon recognizing Seinfeld, Yeganeh went into a profanity-filled rant about how the show had "ruined" his business and demanded an apology. Seinfeld allegedly gave what Feresten describes as "the most insincere, sarcastic apology ever given". Obviously having seen the episode, Yeganeh then bellowed, "No soup for you!" and ejected them from the restaurant.
According to Nora Ephron's DVD commentary, the first pop culture reference to Yeganeh (though not by name) seems to have come years before the Seinfeld episode, in the 1993 movie Sleepless in Seattle. In the film, a magazine writer discusses writing a story: "This man sells the greatest soup you have ever eaten, and he is the meanest man in America. I feel very strongly about this, Becky; it's not just about the soup."
Like Jackie Chiles, the Soup Nazi character (played by Thomas) has appeared in commercials after the end of the series.In an advertisement by the corporate lobbying group Center for Consumer Freedom, he denies food to people he considers to be too fat.
Thomas appeared, in character, along with Jerry Seinfeld in a television commercial for Acura that aired during the 2012 Super Bowl. In the advertisement, Seinfeld is trying to bribe an ordinary guy to get an Acura, offering him soup from The Soup Nazi, who happily offers "Soup for you!". After Jay Leno beat Jerry Seinfeld in bribing the ordinary guy, the Soup Nazi was seen with Jerry, an alien, and a "Munchkin" at a restaurant where they are angered at Jay Leno's actions.
In 2013, Serbu Firearms refused to sell their model BFG-50A semi-automatic .50 rifles to the New York City Police Department after the passage of the NY SAFE Act that classified their weapon as an assault rifle. Following their refusal to sell the rifles, Serbu had T-shirts printed with an image of the The Soup Nazi character with the words "No Serbu For You". Thomas, a gun control advocate, contacted Facebook and the T-shirt printers to have the shirts removed. Serbu has since removed the image of Thomas and replaced it with one of their founder Mark Serbu.
The restaurant chain Eat'n Park put up signs on their reader boards advertising for soup in January 2016. As a joke, the sign says "No soup for you!" before saying "Just kidding" and advertising the price for a take-out quart of soup.
Larry Thomas appeared as himself in the Scrubs episode "My Self-Examination." He denies he is the Soup Nazi when asked by J.D. (Zach Braff), who then tricks him into saying the catchphrase "No soup for you!" by asking him "What is [the catchphrase] again? It's like, 'You're out of luck in the soup department...'"
Seinfeld: A XXX Parody, a 2009 porn parody of Seinfeld, is a spoof of "The Soup Nazi". In it, the Nazi character is named "The Porn Nazi" and is played by Evan Stone.
Rapper Wale used lines from the episode as an introduction and outro to his song "The Soup" on his 2010 mixtape More About Nothing. He acts as the Soup Nazi and uses the soup chef's catchphrase "No soup for you!"
In the Ben 10: Alien Force episode "The Gauntlet", Ben brings juice for Gwen and Kevin and says "No juice for you!" to Kevin.
In the 2010 reboot of the video game NBA Jam for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii, when an alley-oop maneuver is blocked by an opponent, you can hear the announcer say, "No hoop for you!"
In the sitcom Arrested Development, the crooked housing entrepreneur George Bluth Sr. is charged with signing a development deal with Saddam Hussein, despite the embargo against Iraq. Bluth claims that he acted in good faith, mistakenly believing that Hussein was Larry Thomas because of his resemblance to the Soup Nazi. This get referenced in a later episode, where Thomas appears in the role as a political decoy for Saddam Hussein who has lost his job because of the American invasion of Iraq.
In 2011's NBA Jam: On-Fire Edition, the tagline "No soup for you!" can be purchased as a reward for the player's card.
Larry Thomas has used the character to promote soup kitchens for the homeless.
In July 2012, the "Seinfeld Food Truck" embarked on an eight-stop United States tour. The truck, driven by Larry Thomas, handed out free soup along with other Seinfeld-related food items: Snapple, Twix, Junior Mints, black and white cookies and muffin tops.
The episode inspired an actual soup chain, "Soup Nutsy", which opened in 1996 in New York City. Though it had no official connection to, or endorsement from, Seinfeld or its creators, it included specific Seinfeld references such as describing two of its soups as "Jerry's Favorite" and "Kramer's Favorite", respectively. In 1997 it was bought by Franchise Concepts. A few of its locations remain in Toronto, Ontario in Canada.
In August 2009, Albert Gonzalez was convicted for robbery, being the most prolific hacker of credit cards (130 million). He operated on the Internet using the handle "Soupnazi".
Linda S. Ghent, Professor in the Department of Economics at Eastern Illinois University, discusses this episode in terms of its dramatization of the economic issue of market power. The Soup Nazi has monopoly power because he has the power to alter the market price of the goods and services he sells, such as charging George $2 for soup, and then $3, for bread. The soup seller is free to practice price discrimination against George and can banish Elaine from his restaurant because he doesn't like her attitude. Because the Soup Nazi's soup is so good, his reign over New York's soup is powerful to the point that his customers prefer his market, and even his abuse, rather than seek soup elsewhere. Elaine breaks his monopoly when she finds his recipes.