Did Jessica Seinfeld Commit Plagiarism?

Jessica Seinfeld is best known as Jerry Seinfeld's wife. Before marrying Jerry Seinfeld on December 25, 1999, Jessica Sklar was an executive working for the Tommy Hilfiger company.

Jessica Seinfeld started a different career recently with the publication of a new cookbook called "Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food". "Deceptively Delicious" shows techniques featuring ways to add fruits and vegetables to children's diets with the least amount of grief. "Deceptively Delicious" has already had more than one million copies printed.

Jessica's appearance on the October 8th Oprah Winfrey show appeared to make Seinfeld's cookbook an instant success. Oprah oohed and aahed over Jessica Seinfeld's recipes during her October 8 show. Jessica discussed the difficulty of persuading kids to make wise eating choices.

Jessica Seinfeld said the inspiration for her kid friendly recipes was her own battles at the dinner table with her kids. Jessica started developing ways to get kids to eat their vegetables.

Jessica started adding pureed vegetables similar in color to the main food. Some popular recipes are brownies with added spinach, cookies with hidden added chickpeas, and avocado added to chocolate pudding. Jessica swears that her kids can't even taste the added healthy ingredients.

Soon after Jessica's appearance on "Oprah", the plagiarism accusations started on the internet. Message boards and forums were comparing Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook to a very similar cookbook published earlier called "The Sneaky Chef" by Missy Chase Levine. Compared to the more than a million copies of the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook, "The Sneaky Chef" has 150,000 printed copies, according to USA Today.

Like "Deceptively Delicious", Levine's cookbook also explains ways to add more fruits and vegetables into children's diets. The cookbook by Levine was published before the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook. "The Sneaky Chef" uses many of the same techniques to sneak nutrition into children's diets. Many of the recipes in Seinfeld's cookbook are almost identical to recipes in Levine's cookbook.

An interesting twist is that Lapine submitted her cookbook to the HarperCollins publishing company in 2006. She was turned down twice. HarperCollins then decided to publish "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld about a month after turning down Lapine's cookbook proposal.

USA Today reported that Lapine also attempted to secure a guest appearance on the "Oprah" show on five different occasions. She was denied every time. Later when Jessica Seinfeld appeared on her show, Oprah touted Jessica's cookbook as being completely original and innovative. Oprah had no comment when asked about the Jessica Seinfeld plagiarism accusations.

Only Jessica Seinfeld truly knows if she committed plagiarism. She certainly isn't the first person to think up ways to sneak vegetables into her kids' diets. It would be a shame, though, if she got such fantastic free publicity simply because she was riding on her husband's coattails.

Healthy Foods Like the Ones in Jessica Seinfeld's Recipes
Healthy Foods Like the Ones in Jessica Seinfeld's Recipes

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Comments 23 comments

Rudra profile image

Rudra 8 years ago

Ahh plagiarism. It would might well be.


VickeyK profile image

VickeyK 8 years ago

Interesting stuff! But plagiarism has a very specific definition, doesn't it? It means she copied the words. If she did, a comparison of the two books would reveal that.

An idea can be copied, though, without breaking the law. And I have to say that an idea like pureeing spinach & sneaking it into brownies, while brilliant, might have occurred to more than one parent!


Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 8 years ago

Interesting - i hope the woman gets compensated. But I have to say, spinach and brownies? That's some nasty stuff, what kid wouldn't taste that? Yuck!


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA Author

VickeyK,

Exactly, especially with recipes. And everyone has heard of smashing up cauliflower and calling it mashed potatoes to fool kids. There are other points brought up that I didn't want to add because I'm not sure of their validity. I don't know how similar the recipes are or if they are completely identical. And supposedly both books even have a design that kind of looks like spilled gravy on the pages or somewhat. I don't know if Jessica Seinfeld knowingly copied the earlier cookbook. The part that I thought was most interesting about the story is that the first author's obviously very similar cookbook was turned down by both the publisher and Oprah. But with a name like 'Seinfeld' attached, it becomes a hot seller.


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA Author

Isabella,

I agree with you 100%!


autismfamily profile image

autismfamily 8 years ago from Los Angeles

Good research. I went and put the book on my amazon wish list after watching Oprah, but I also read comments there about similarities and decided to put both books on my wish list and see what they both offer.


Lela Davidson profile image

Lela Davidson 8 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

It's business.  Seinfeld is cute and people are curious about her.  There's nothing novel about the idea, it's all how you package it.  If Seinfeld's name sells more books, that affects the bottom line.  She has a built-in brand. If you were really cynical, you might wonder if someone at the publisher liked the idea so much - and they had this friend who would be a perfect face for it....


gamergirl profile image

gamergirl 8 years ago from Antioch, TN

If the recipes were identical, right down to the words used in what I call "flavor text," meaning the jokes, quips, the interesting phrases used to make a book truly something extra, then yes it's plagiarism. Technically, the act of plagiarism is defined as the unauthorized use or close imitation of language and thoughts of another author and representation of them as one's own work (says dictionary.com and my college communications course.) I'd say there's plagiarism going on here.


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA Author

Hmm... this has turned into an interesting discussion on what is and isn't plagiarism. Thanks for everyone's input.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago

GREAT Hub Angela!! GREAT comments everyone!!

I saw both the Oprah/Seinfeld Show and LOVED the idea, as well as the Levine interview(s) on other stations!! Sure sounded like too much of a coincidence to me!! I have not seen the side-by-side book comparisons but Levine mentioned 15 recipes being exact duplicates!!

Earth Angel Publishing is devoted to helping authors publish themselves!! Part of the motivation was eluded to by Lela above!! It made no sense to me, as an author, to submit original work that took me years to create, to a stranger within a large NY publishing house!!

Internet copyright law has come a long way in just the last few years!! As authors we are protected by the proof within our retrieval system(s); hard drive, back-up, CD, hard copy, etc.!! Titles, subjects, etc. can not be copyrighted; content can!!

Yet, we all know that by changing a few words here and there, the copyright lines get blurry!!

The sad reality is that to bring action against someone who has infringed on our copyright is a losing proposition for all except the attorneys!!

Levine might not have the resources Seinfeld has; it will be interesting to watch as this unfolds!! My guess is a confidential settlement is in the works somewhere!!

Blessings, Earth Angel!!


Melissa Garrett 8 years ago

As a mother to a child with sensory issues and one who will not eat most foods, I began sneaking purees into muffins (one of the foods he will eat) long before either cookbook came out. In fact, I've began tweaking my recipes more than a year ago in hopes of writing a book. But now? I'm reluctant, due to the controversy surrounding these two authors. I was given Jessica Seinfeld's book and have tried many recipes. While they are quite good, my son has eaten only one dish I've prepared. And even then, I had to coax him to eat it (mac n cheese). I sympathize with Levine; how frustrating it must be to lobby your book only to have a "celebrity" get the royal treatment. Although I like Seinfeld's book, the fact that she gifted Oprah with thousands of dollars worth of shoes left a sour taste in my mouth.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago

Hi Melissa!!

Although I have no children of my own, I have seven God children, (all different parents) and five of them have various degrees of autism!! Getting any quality nutrition into my precious charges is always an uphill battle!! I know the fight well!!

Please do not be discouraged about writing your own cookbook!! If authors of "vegetarian" cookbooks stopped writing after the first two were published (way back when) we would be missing a wealth of much needed information and awareness!!

We each bring unique visions and insights to writing and publishing!! You may create something that puts both Seinfeld and Levine on notice!!

Blessings, Earth Angel!!


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA Author

Earth Angel and Melissa- Thanks so much for adding to the Jessica Seinfeld debate.

Earth Angel, I didn't get to see any of the Levine interviews, so thanks for the added information. 15 exact recipes seems like much more than a coincidence. I think that this episode will accomplish two things, each on either side of the spectrum. First, unknown authors will seek out smaller publishing companies or use publishers such as yourself. Second, it will discourage potential authors like Melissa, which is a shame.

And you're right- the ones that gain the most from these situations are the lawyers. I also think that there will be a hush-hush settlement. At least Levine may be compensated in some way, even if she doesn't get the recognition for her cookbook recipes.

Melissa, Like Earth Angel said, don't get discouraged. If your son likes your recipes, but refuses to eat most of Seinfeld's cookbook recipes, you may truly have a best-selling cookbook that others would appreciate.

Think of J.K. Rowling. She was completely unknown. It's still possible to publish without being a celebrity. It's just more difficult.

And this has been a sore subject with me for a long time. Actors and athletes now compete with unknowns for voiceover jobs, book contracts, recording contracts, political positions, etc. They've become the Walmarts of the career world.

And I agree- the $1000s worth of shoes seemed almost like a bribe. Although to both of Oprah and Jessica Seinfeld that amount of money is just pennies.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai

Most of your readers and you have it right. Copyright law forbids extensive copying of words, not ideas. There's an ethical side and a legal side to the plagiarism question. Thanks for starting this debate!

But the more books there are on making food interesting to children, instead of forcing them to eat what they are supposed to, the better it is for all parents! 


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 8 years ago

You guys are just all the best! Blessings on your evenings!! Earth Angel!!


Mab 8 years ago

My opinion of Jerry Seinfeld plummeted last night as I watched him totally trash this unfortunate woman (Levine) whose recipe book appears to have preceded that of Jerry's wife. Whether Jerry's wife, who clearly is riding on her celebrity husband's coattails in promoting her book, plagiarized is one issue. But for Jerry to use his celebrity and pull to go on national television to trash the other author is disgusting, far beneath the acclaim he enjoys and likely slanderous. He compared this culinary author with the woman who stalked David Letterman! Just because he has the floor does not validate his cruel defaming of the other author.


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA Author

Mab, I wasn't aware of this. I agree 100% with you on Seinfeld's actions. She's a stalker now? Unbelievable. Thanks for the added information.

The power and arrogance that most celebrities possess nowadays is scary. It's very obvious come election time in the USA. Voters listen to everything these people say. Come on- they pretend, sing, and play games for a living. They entertain. They're not political experts.


Lloyd Shaw 8 years ago

Lela Davidson says:4 months ago

"It's business"

Funny this is exactly the same comment I have heard from other unethical/dishonest people when caught red handed. I have e-mails and had business meetings where this exact phrase is used.

Maybe its taught to these people from a young age that its acceptable to take something thats not yours , just because....


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA Author

Lloyd, agreed. So many unethical travesties occur, all under the guise of business. Enron comes to mind.


RFox profile image

RFox 8 years ago

It is unfortunate that in our world today having a celebrity name ensures record contracts, book deals, fashion lines, business ventures etc etc etc....even if you don't have the requisite talent or expertise. Yet unknowns with enormous talent and expertise are shown the door time and time again. It is entirely plausible that the two women had the same idea but how differently they have been treated shows where our world is at.

And after hearing what Jerry Seinfeld did I have lost respect for him. Although trashing the competition does seem to be the norm nowadays. Sadly.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia

that's ridiculous! I think she read the other book, and took notes. Saw the techniques work and wrote them in her own book. Road Jerry's coattail and hit big. That's ridiculous!

By the way who would think of spinach in brownies. That just sounds nasty!


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA Author

RFox, agreed.

Whitney, yeah, spinach brownies- gross. I just started feeding my kids raw spinach with salads when they were very young. None of them have aversion to spinach now.


MK 7 years ago

Jessica Seinfeld is a Jew pig.

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