The first tale in season 3’s “Treehouse of Horror II” opens with Homer watching news about the presidential primaries and telling the TV “if you don’t like it, go to Russia.” 1991, folks. This timely comment, plus an excuse to make a turkey sandwich, pushed this episode to the top of my recipe list. And if you don’t like it, YOU can go to Russia!
“Treehouse of Horror” episodes are the best. The short vignettes are perfect for fun sci-fi and horror parodies, and allow The Simpsons to break all of their own rules. In this second-ever edition, it’s Halloween in Springfield and the kids come home with a huge trick-or-treat haul. Ignoring Marge’s warnings of nightmares, Homer, Bart and Lisa gorge themselves on sweets before bed.
The first dream we visit is Lisa’s, and in it the Simpson family is vacationing in Morocco. Homer wanders over to a creepy guy’s stand to check out a shriveled monkey’s paw on display. The wonky-eyed salesman informs him that it grants wishes, but cautions that the totem is dangerous (“I was once president of Algeria”). After the family returns home, they bicker about what to wish for. Before they can agree, Maggie makes a silent wish holding the paw and a luxury car appears outside. A butler comes to the door and delivers a fancy new pacifier via velvet pillow. One wish down, three to go (four fingers!).
Bart grabs the wish-granter next and proclaims “I wish for the Simpsons to be rich and famous!” Cash immediately starts appearing everywhere, and they decide to go out for a fancy dinner at the Gilded Truffle. Everything seems great until they realize that they’ve been over-exposed and everyone is sick of them. It’s some top-notch self-reflexive comedy. While the family frets, Lisa nobly wishes for world peace (“Lisa, that was very selfish of you!”). Citizens the world over throw out their guns and join hands in song. The Pentagon is even repurposed into a shopping mall. Everything seems great again until Kang and Kodos show up and easily take over the now defenseless world.
Homer decides to take matters and the final wish into his own hands (literally). He makes a wish that he is sure can’t backfire:
“I wish for a turkey sandwich … on rye bread … with lettuce and mustard. And … and! I don’t want any zombie turkey, I don’t want to turn into a turkey myself, and I don’t want any other weird surprises. You got it?”
A magical floating sandwich appears, and it looks pretty darn good. Mmm … floating sandwich. Homer grabs it and takes a bite.
“Not bad. Nice hot mustard. Good bread. Turkey ’s a little dry… The turkey ’s a little dry?! Oh, foul the cursed thing! What demon from the depths of hell created thee?”
Now all is truly lost. Homer takes the monkey’s paw, now devoid of wishes, straight out to the garbage. Flanders spots the magical item and asks if he can have it. Homer starts to warn him, but his desire to see Flanders suffer wins over. He gives his neighbor the paw, and the fingers straighten back out with a new set of wishes. Flanders wishes away the aliens and for a nicer house, and it all goes swimmingly. He’s celebrated by the town, and Homer is left forlorn (“I wish I had a monkey’s paw”).
I would just like to point out that Marge was the only one to end up wishless. She didn’t even get a chance to wish. Poor Marge.
Sandwich time! To be true to the source material, you must use turkey that’s “a little dry.” And then I guess you should yell about it at the top of your lungs and throw it out. Ooooor you could use high-quality, perfectly sliced roast turkey and eat the whole thing and feel like your wish came true. I won’t hold it against you—life is short. Too short for wasting wishes on dry turkey sandwiches.
Photo by Laurel Randolph
Monkey Paw Turkey Sandwich
Good-quality rye bread*
Hot mustard like Kosciusko or hot sweet mustard like Inglehoffer
Slightly dry but high quality deli turkey, thin-sliced
Curly leaf lettuce, rinsed and dried
Fresh tomato, sliced
Spread hot mustard on one piece of rye bread and spread mayonnaise on the other (optional). Layer turkey, lettuce, and tomato onto one slice and top with the other slice. Watch it float in your kitchen a moment before eating it.
*Here’s a great recipe for rye bread. If you don’t have the time or will to make it, consider buying your bread fresh from a trusted bakery. This is a wish sandwich, after all.
Laurel Randolph is a food and lifestyle writer hailing from Tennessee and living in Los Angeles. She enjoys cooking, baking and candlestick making. Tweet at her face: