The boys are assigned to write a report with Tweek, a very nervous and highly caffeinated boy who insists gnomes are stealing his underpants.
Mr. Garrison's job is on thin ice. To prove he's a good teacher he tells his kids to prepare oral presentations on current events for the South Park Town Committee. To their disappointment, the boys are paired up with Tweek, an extremely twitchy kid obsessed with Underpants Gnomes -- tiny men who visit his room every night at 3:30 a.m. to steal his undergarments.
Tweek's nervousness is explained when he invites Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny to his home for a sleepover. His parents run a coffee shop and aren't shy about giving their son and the other boys enough java to send them into a caffeine-fueled frenzy. That night the gnomes file in at 3:30 a.m. to steal several pairs of Tweek's underwear. But the kids are so burnt out from their coffee buzz that none of them except for Tweek notice.
Aware that the boys are having trouble coming up with a topic for their paper, Tweek's dad volunteers to write one for them. It's about his store's struggle against a huge coffee shop chain called Harbucks Coffee. The kids read the paper aloud to the South Park Town Committee, which promptly creates a special proposition called Prop 10 to kick the coffee chain out of town. Mr. Garrison suspects the boys cheated, but tells them they must stick to their story since his job is at stake.
The kids panic when they learn they have to talk about corporate greed at a Prop 10 rally. While gathered at Tweek's house to figure out what to do, they finally encounter the Underpants Gnomes. The magical creatures take the boys to their underground lair and explain their not-very-well-thought-out plan for making money with underpants.
In exchange for the boys' underwear, the Gnomes agree to tell them about the nature of corporations. At the rally before the no-Harbucks proposition is to be voted on, the kids state that corporations do a lot of good and that they didn't write their previous presentation. Mrs. Tweak, upset that her husband used the boys as pawns, encourages everyone to try Harbucks Coffee which turns out to be pretty good. "It doesn't have that bland, raw sewage taste that Tweak's coffee has," someone remarks.
What I Learned Today
"We've been using these poor kids to pull at your heartstrings for our cause and it's wrong. We're as low and despicable as Rob Reiner."
- "Aah! Too much pressure!" (Tweek Tweak)
- "They really have my balls in a salad shooter." (Richard Tweak)
- "Agh! Maybe it was all in my head! Maybe I'm going INSANE!! OH NO! I'm GOING INSANE!" (Tweek Tweak)
- "Time to go to work, work all night, search for underpants yay, we won't stop till we have underpants, yum tum yummy tum yay!" (Underpants Gnomes)
- "Well, Mr. Garrison, it looks like we were wrong about you. You really are teaching these kids something!" (South Park Committee)
- "Dad, the metaphors, man!" (Tweek Tweak)
- "Well, I must say Garrison, perhaps you're not as stupid and crazy as I always tell people you are." (Mayor McDaniels)
- "Stealing underpants is big business." (Underpants Gnomes)
- "It's almost as big as Cartman's ass!" (Kyle Broflovski, about the Underpants Gnomes' lair)
- "Holy shit! We killed your friend!" (Gnome Warlock)
Kenny gets crushed by one of the Underpants Gnomes' underpants-filled trolley carts.
Behind The Scenes
Where Did The Idea Come From
This episode is a commentary on commercialization and America's free market economy. At the end of the 20th century and onward, there was a surge in franchise stores like Starbucks, Wal-Mart and McDonalds appearing. Anti-corporate groups would argue that these stores with their low prices would eliminate small business owners. The controversy surrounding multinational corporations is satirized again in "Something Wall Mart This Way Comes".
The episode also makes fun of the ridiculous efforts groups will do to make others support their cause, especially by emphasizing the innocence of children. This and the off-hand jab at activist Rob Reiner are expanded upon in "Butt Out" seasons later.
Pop Culture References
The Harbucks coffee corporation is a parody of the Starbucks coffee franchise. The Harbucks representative Mr. Postum is named after an instant coffee substitute beverage made from wheat and molasses.
When Stan mentions his reluctance to work with Tweek, Mr. Garrison launches into a monologue about the popular '70s hospital drama Medical Center: "That's what Chad Everett thought when the new female intern joined the cast of Medical Center. He thought, 'Who is this woman with her gazungas and high heels. What does she know of medicine?' Well, that intern soon saved Chad Everett's brother with a kidney transplant."
Cartman suggests they do their presentation on "that Raymond guy on TV, you know everybody loves Raymond." This is a reference to comedian Ray Romano and his television show Everybody Loves Raymond.
Mr. Postum offers Mr. Tweak a Cramsonite briefcase. This is a parody of Samsonite, a Colorado-based company that makes durable luggage and briefcases.
The city manages to get the rock band Toto to perform for Proposition 10 celebrations. They are best known for their singles "Hold the Line", "Rosanna", and "Africa".
Harbucks mascot Joe Camel is a parody of Joe Camel, the former mascot for Camel cigarettes from 1987-1997. Critics accused Camel cigarettes of using Joe Camel as a mascot to make smoking more appealing to children. The company ended the mascot's campaign due to pressure from Congress and an impending lawsuit.
When Mrs. Tweak admits to helping her husband use children to gain sympathy for their business, she says "We're as low and despicable as Rob Reiner." Reiner is a devoted activist who founded the "I Am Your Child Foundation" and "Parents' Action for Children" organizations to promote early childhood development through celebrity-hosted educational videos for parents. Reiner's outspoken activism against smoking is mocked in "Butt Out".
- The logline for Tweek Bros. Coffee commercials is "30 Years of Tweekers".
- Tweek's parents state that he has ADD aka ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It is characterized primarily by problems paying attention, excessive activity, and/or difficulty controlling behavior. It is unclear whether Tweek's hyperactivity is a symptom of ADHD, excessive caffeine, or both.
- When Mr. Garrison is writing on the board, all the "n"s are backwards.
- Cartman whacks the Underpants Gnomes the same way he whacks his pet Mr. Kitty. In early seasons, it's shown he treats many animals and sometimes people the same way in order to assert dominance, as seen in "Chickenlover" and "Rainforest Shmainforest".
- During the final scene, a Visitor can be seen behind the crowd.
- e1 Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus
- e2 Cartman's Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut
- e3 Chickenlover
- e4 Ike's Wee Wee
- e5 Conjoined Fetus Lady
- e6 The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka
- e7 City on the Edge of Forever (Flashbacks)
- e8 Summer Sucks
- e9 Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls
- e10 Chickenpox
- e11 Roger Ebert Should Lay Off the Fatty Foods
- e12 Clubhouses
- e13 Cow Days
- e14 Chef Aid
- e12 Spookyfish
- e13 Merry Christmas Charlie Manson!
- e14 Gnomes
- e15 Prehistoric Ice Man