The Simpsons has so many classic episodes, filled with memorable lines that have become part of our everyday vernacular. One of the most-loved (and now most-memed) episodes, which birthed a peculiarly perfect piece of parlance, first aired on this day in 1996. That’s right, today is the 27th birthday of Steamed Hams.
The season 7 episode of the long-running comedy series, called 22 Short Films About Springfield, is divided into short sequences. This one is entitled Skinner & the Superintendent and is presented as a sitcom, complete with wacky incidental music. It features the permanently-beleaguered Principal Seymour Skinner attempting to impress Super Nintendo (sorry, Superintendent) Chalmers by cooking him dinner. Chalmers catches Seymour next to a smoking oven, trying to escape out of the window to Krusty Burger.
Seymour explains that he’s stretching his gams on the windowsill and that it’s not smoke, it’s steam. From the steamed clams that he’s making. Skinner then presents Chalmers with a platter of (definitely homemade) hamburgers. Chalmers says; “I thought we were having steamed clams?” And Skinner; “no, no, I said steamed hams. That’s what I call hamburgers.” And thus, a legend was born.
A slightly lesser-known, but maybe even better, part of the episode of the animated series is when Chalmers catches sight of Seymour’s kitchen, which is now on fire – via the swinging door. He exclaims; “Good lord! What is happening in there?!” And Skinner responds; “Aurora Borealis.” Chalmers says; “Aurora Borealis. At this time of year. At this time of day. In this part of the country. Localised entirely within your kitchen.”
The segment only lasts a couple of minutes, but has gone onto become part of internet history, with videos such as “Steamed Hams but it’s a different animator every 30 seconds” now having over 10 million views on YouTube. The 25th anniversary of the episode in 2021 was celebrated with a Hollywood Reporter article which looked at its new-found cult following.
Steamed Hams is just one of countless segments that makes The Simpsons high on the list of best TV series of all time.