Unlike the classic TV series before it, the characters of Seinfeld never went to war, no one owned a bar or a nightclub and there were no abnormally large blended families to fill screen time with sibling rivalry and familial drama. Seinfeld storylines weren’t overly dramatized, nor were its characters larger than life.
Instead, Seinfeld was famously “a show about nothing.”
It was simply a realistic depiction of a close group of friends navigating daily life in New York City. So realistic, in fact, that its writers often drew upon real events in their own lives to craft the episodes.
This was the case for one of the many ridiculous situations in which George Costanza (Jason Alexander) found himself. In the Season 7 episode “The Rye,” George and his fiancee, Susan Ross, held a dinner for their families, hoping that their respective parents would bond.
The dinner, of course, did not go smoothly. And when the rye bread George’s parents brought wasn’t served, they took it home with them out of spite. This left George scrambling to replace the loaf of bread to cover for his parents’ harsh actions. According to Carol Leifer, Seinfeld writer and the inspiration for the beloved character Elaine Bennis, this storyline was based on a true story.
‘Seinfeld’ Writer Explains the Event That Led to the Rye Bread Storyline
In a 2016 interview with news.com.au, Carol Leifer explained that her role as a Seinfeld writer meant listening to some truly awful pitches for episodes. “When you write on Seinfeld,” Leifer recalled, “the bane of any writer’s existence was people coming up to you and saying, ‘Oh, I’ve got the best idea for a Seinfeld episode.'”
Though she heard her fair share of terrible ideas, every now and then, she stumbled upon something brilliant. The hilarious rye bread storyline on Seinfeld, for example, came from a real story she heard from a friend.
“What is so great about Seinfeld is that so many tangents of the show were told from things that happened in real life,” Leifer said. “I have a friend from high school who said she had a great Seinfeld idea. She said, ‘We had a dinner party the other night. And these people brought a bread to serve at the dinner and I forgot to put the bread out and I noticed at the end of the night they took the bread home.'”
The friend wasn’t telling her the story with Seinfeld in mind. However, Carol Leifer knew that the idea fit perfectly with the show. “I remember saying to my friend, ‘You know what? I’m going to pitch to Larry and Jerry because I think there’s something there,'” Leifer continued. “And sure enough, when I pitched it to them, Larry David was like, ‘That’s a show. We’re definitely doing something with that.’ And that became the episode called ‘The Rye’.”