Cosmo Kramer is one of the greatest sitcom icons of all time. Both a subversion and a development of the “wacky neighbour” cliché – helped partly by an impeccable performance by Michael Richards and partly by the fact that he was based on a real guy named Kenny Kramer who lived next door to Larry David – Kramer was defined by his get-rich-quick schemes.
He had a continuous stream of income and, seemingly, no job. With a lot of free time on his hands, he came up with an endless supply of failed business ideas. So, here are Kramer’s 10 Craziest Get-Rich-Quick Schemes, Ranked.
10 Selling Morty Seinfeld’s raincoats
In the two-part episode “The Raincoats,” Jerry’s parents Morty and Helen come to visit in the days before their trip to Paris. Kramer has been buying some vintage menswear from a clothing store that buys second-hand clothes from bereaved people.
Kramer cooks up a plan to have Morty’s neighbor in Florida ship over some boxes of the raincoats he used to sell, so that they could sell them on to the store and make a sweet profit. However, things go awry when George sells his own father’s moth-ridden clothes to the store and the proprietor refuses to buy anything else from George or his friends.
9 Stealing business from Moviefone
When Kramer’s new phone number turned out to be 555-FILK – just one digit away from the number for Moviefone, 555-FILM – he got a ton of calls from people who had misdialed looking for movie showtimes. And instead of redirecting them or hanging up the phone, Kramer decided to take Moviefone’s business.
Whenever he got one of those calls, he would open up a newspaper and tell them the times for the movie they wanted to see. At the end of the episode, the actual Moviefone guy tracks down Kramer and comes to his apartment for some poetic – and very articulate – retribution.
8 Making it as an actor in Hollywood
In the season 3 finale “The Keys,” Kramer went out to Hollywood to try to make it as an actor. In the two-part season 4 premiere “The Trip,” we find him going to auditions, living in a tiny apartment, and shopping around his script treatment entitled The Keys.
He even managed to get his treatment in the hands of Fred Savage, who was one of the biggest child stars in the world at the time. Despite making a guest appearance as one of Murphy Brown’s secretaries, Kramer’s acting career – and his screenwriting career – failed to take off. When he was accused of being a serial killer, it was truly over.
7 A beach-scented cologne
Kramer once came up with an idea for a cologne that would have the scent of a beach. When you wore it, you’d smell like you just came back from the beach, and Kramer thought that was a good idea.
He pitched it to an executive at Ralph Lauren, but he was shot down pretty harshly when the executive reminded him that people hate the smell of the beach so much that they shower after they’ve been to the beach just to get rid of it. Later, Ralph Lauren released the cologne under the name “Ocean” and Kramer was furious.
6 Tie dispensers for public restrooms
One of Kramer’s more outlandish inventions is the tie dispenser. The gap in the clothing market that he saw was the availability of spare ties, so he invented a tie dispenser that you would put in the bathrooms of restaurants. If someone spilt barbecue sauce or ketchup on their tie, they could simply go to the restroom and buy another one.
This isn’t a terrible idea, since people do spill sauce on their ties at restaurants, but that’s not the kind of thing that should be encouraged. If tie dispensers existed, people wouldn’t even try to not spill sauce on their tie.
5 Filling plastic bubbles with oil
When Kramer brought on an unpaid intern from Columbia University to help him run his think tank corporation Kramerica Industries, he initially just abused the system by getting his overly eager new employee to pick up dry cleaning and groceries for him.
However, when he had the idea to fill plastic bubbles with oil and hang them from tanker trucks (which, from the beginning, was a terrible idea), they got to work. They made a prototype, filled it with oil, and dropped it from a high-story office window. Obviously, it exploded all over the street and Kramer immediately abandoned the idea.
4 A coffee table book about coffee tables
There was a whole season-long arc dedicated to Kramer’s coffee table book about coffee tables. Elaine’s boss at the publishing house she used to work for fell in love with the idea over a couple of cigars with Kramer and fast-tracked the project, much to Elaine’s chagrin.
Kramer was set up for a nationwide book tour involving TV appearances, but the whole thing was put on hold after a disastrous appearance on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and then called off altogether after Elaine’s boss sneezed into his hand, wouldn’t shake the hand of the Japanese executive that was buying out the company to avoid spreading germs, and accidentally let the deal fall through.
3 The Bro (or the Manssiere)
While George was horrified to discover that his father had breasts – breasts that jiggled when he rode on the subway – Kramer saw a business opportunity. He went to Frank with his idea for a brassiere for men and he loved it. He even agreed to be the test subject for the prototype.
Frank had a contact in the brassiere industry, which was established when he arranged a job interview for George to be a bra salesman, so they brought the idea to him and he loved it, too. The whole thing fell apart when they couldn’t agree on the name; Kramer wanted to call it “the Bro,” while Frank wanted to call it “the Manssiere.”
2 A pizza place where you make your own pie
On a number of occasions, Kramer talked about his idea for “a pizza place where you make your own pie.” Every time he brought it up, Jerry and George rejected the idea, because it involved customers not only spreading the sauce and sprinkling the toppings onto their own pizzas, but also sliding it into the oven themselves.
Jerry and George predicted that many of these people would burn their hands and Kramer would get regularly sued as a result. Still, there are some restaurants today with this basic concept – where preparing your own food is part of the experience – and a lot of them have been very successful.
1 The bottle deposit scam
In the two-part episode “The Bottle Deposit,” Newman realizes that Michigan offers a couple more cents per recycled glass bottle than New York. Kramer tells him he’s already tried working out that scheme and the math just didn’t add up. However, with the use of Newman’s mail van, they find a way to make it work.
The scam probably would’ve worked out if they didn’t stumble across Jerry’s stolen car on the highway and get waylaid. In pursuit of the stolen car, the mail van gets destroyed as the thief throws out JFK’s old golf clubs (the ones Elaine bought at auction with her boss’ money) and they get caught up in the axels.