Star Trek vs. Seinfeld

Which quintessential show has had the most influence on modern society?

Slashdot recently posted a link to an article on the San Francisco Chronicle about the influence of Star Trek on Palm’s hardware design. Obviously, there are the user interface and ergonomic design similarities between them. See Captain Kirk’s communicator and the latest clam-shell cell phones with speaker phone output. Also, there’s the flat screen LCD monitors and sliding automatic doors. What’s next? Probably real-time translators, but mass teleportation and gravity generators will be further down the road.

All fine and good. But how about Seinfeld? You know… Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer? The show was every bit the landmark of situational comedy as Star Trek was in the campy science fiction category. Likewise, it would seem that Seinfeld has had a profound influence on culture since its untimely series conclusion. And I’m not just talking about the public’s memorization of each show’s plotline. I’m referring to some of the shows’ subject matter coming to fruition in real life.

Case in point #1: rickshaws. Remember the episode? Kramer and Newman cook up a cooky idea to import a taste of China into New York and a hot little business scheme on the side. They wish to outfit the homeless of NYC with rickshaws as a method of quicker transportation. As with so many of Kramer’s ideas, they seem practical and rational on the outside, but the sheer absurdity of it is more than obvious.

Well, the other night, I saw proof of rickshaws in NYC for myself. I was watching The Apprentice on TV, and by God they’ve got them now. At least Donald Trump was sold on the idea, so it must not have been that irrational. Come to think of it, I think Trump may have been in that episode. Hmm…

Case in point #2: muffin tops. Remember that one? Elaine has the great idea of opening up her own bakery and selling nothing but the tops of muffins, since that’s the first part of a muffin that people eat anyway. Novel idea, right? Problem was that her budding career change had a hard time disposing of the rest of the muffins. Enter the homeless again — her plan was to donate the muffin bodies to NYC’s despondent, but the shelters wouldn’t accept them. Her business eventually tanked.

Well, there I was at the local Atlanta Bread Company, eating my sandwich and coffee (somewhat reminiscent of the coffee shop the Seinfeld crew frequented) and what should I find? In the bakery section, ABC sells muffin tops! The real question on my mind and Elaine’s is: what do they do with their infernal muffin bodies?

So, there you have two prime examples of Seinfeld inventions in the real world. Watch out Star Trek! Next up is Festivus. Giddy-up!

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