On this date–December 17–25 years ago, “The Simpsons” debuted on television so it seems like a great time to look back at the times when Akron showed up in Springfield.
LeBron James appeared in “Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass.” After Homer’s embarrassing victory dance goes viral, famous athletes—including LeBron James—ask for training on their celebratory moves while Ned shoots his own version of the Cain and Abel story. But this post-Super Bowl episode is best remembered for revealing Comic Book Guy’s real name.
Devo hasn’t appeared as themselves on “The Simpsons,” but clearly the writers are big fans because they’ve made a few references to the New Wave pioneers.
And then there is the time Mr. Burns’s whipping boy Waylon Smithers appropriated the song to promote, eh, licorice.
One of the most popular is the Duff Beer Blimp, a fairly obvious riff on Goodyear’s famous flyer. The Duff Blimp appeared in seven episodes and the Simpsons movie, as well as on two Simpsons video games.
Akron doesn’t own the only soap box derby in the world, but as host of the world championships, we lay claim to the most famous and that shows up in the “Saturdays of Thunder” episode. While Bart and Homer compete in a local (to Springfield) soap box derby, the race itself references the Scandal of 1973 when a racer cheated to win as the bully Nelson attempts to do on this show.
Of course, it works the other way around too. Just as Akron has influenced the Simpsons, the Simpsons have influenced Akron.
In a Black Keys interview with “Interview Magazine,” Patrick Carney said of him and Dan Auerbach, “I think our relationship would be best described as a mixture between Patty and Selma Bouvier from The Simpsons and Erik Estrada and that other dude [Larry Wilcox] from CHiPs. We take turns playing each role.”
There you have it. From big laughs, cameos and relationship advice, “The Simpsons” is the gift that keeps on giving. Here’s to another 25 years!
Its town of Springfield was named for its generic Anywhereness (there are Springfields in 30 U.S. states). Over various episodes, the town’s geography has contained rivers, deserts, farmland, mountains or whatever the story requires.