UNION, NJ – Larry Thomas, the actor best known for his cameo role as “The Soup Nazi” in the popular TV sitcom Seinfeld was promoting a new line of packaged products by The Original Soupman at the Shop Rite of Union on Friday afternoon.
Like many Seinfeld episodes, “The Soup Nazi” was inspired by a real-life encounter of Al Yeganeh, a New York soup vendor on 55th Street. Customers – including Jerry, George and Elaine – were forced to conform to strict rules when ordering or risk losing the privileges of consuming the tasty soup, hence the nickname. Thomas’ character was notorious for shouting the renowned line “No soup for you!” which sometimes meant that the customer was banished until further notice.
However, patrons did not have to feel like they were walking on eggshells upon requesting samples of the soup, which are now being sold in non-perishable tetra carton packages in supermarkets. That is, unless they made a special request to be yelled at. To which Thomas would happily comply to – while sounding like carbon copy of his old self.
Thomas explained that he improvised the audition for the role after being referred to by a friend and praised screen writer Spike Feresten for his creative proficiency. There was a great synergy between the two for the episode and few could argue with the results.
In fact, Hulu, a subscription-based video on demand website ranked it as the second most popular Seinfeld episode of all-time.
The soup maker’s history dates long before the Seinfeld episode aired, but the packaged products are relatively new thanks to the recent tetra carton packaging boom, which better preserves the flavor. Thomas became a brand ambassador for the company about a year ago and says that business has been good.
“These are the most flavorable soups that you’re going to find on the soup aisle,” Thomas suggests (upon sampling several of the flavors myself, I’d have to agree). “There’s a big upswing these days towards gourmet products. People are suddenly into things that taste better and it’s a great time for this soup.”
Although the episode aired over two decades ago, Thomas says that his fans range in age and come from all over the world. Now he is happy to interact with the fans that helped launch his career in acting while helping promote the product line of soups.
“I always say come for the Soup Man, but come back for the soup,” Thomas said. “(Fans) come all the time and want to meet me to get yelled at, but once they taste the soup they are pleasantly surprised.”
His special appearance was part of a trio of visits to Shop Rites in Central New Jersey on Friday. He may be coming to a store near you next, so be sure to check out their Facebook page.