She was so excited, she was so scared, and we were so amused. In the now-iconic Saved By the Bell episode “Jessie’s Song,” the overachieving Jesse Spano became addicted to caffeine pills, and the world furrowed their brows.
That wasn’t the original plan, however. In an excerpt from his new book, executive producer Peter Engel reveals that Jesse’s addiction was to speed, not caffeine pills. “I insisted that we needed to start dealing with more important issues than we had in the past,” he writes, “and that speed was a vehicle not only for exploring drug use but also the pressure that kids put on themselves to achieve.”
Standards and Practices wouldn’t allow it, however, and the change was made to caffeine pills. What’s hilarious, though, is that the rest of the episode stayed the same, with Jesse’s meltdown resembling that of a legit tweeker more than an over-caffeinated teenager.
Still, Engel remains proud of it. “And even though we can laugh now about how silly the caffeine pills were,” he writes, “there’s a reason that so many young adults make a point of telling me that ‘Jessie’s Song’ was, hands down, their favorite episode. No one was making programming for kids like that at the time. It made an impact. It helped them grow up.”
Engel’s memoir, I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True, is out today.