33 episodes

Decoder Ring is the show about cracking cultural mysteries. In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

Decoder Ring Slate Magazine

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 18 Ratings

Decoder Ring is the show about cracking cultural mysteries. In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

    Join Slate Plus to Hear a New Episode of Decoder Ring!

    Join Slate Plus to Hear a New Episode of Decoder Ring!

    Where did all the water bottles come from? Just a few decades ago, no one carried bottled water around with them, and now it's totally ubiquitous. What changed? Hydration is a real thing in science, but it was also a kind of invention: used by marketers of sports drinks, bottled water companies, and the wellness industry to keep us buying and drinking water for clearer skin, better health, and all sorts of other nebulous benefits. To hear the full episode now, sign up for Slate Plus. Otherwise you'll hear this episode in June when our full season launches.
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    • 1 min
    Decoder Ring Presents The Sporkful’s Mission: ImPASTAble

    Decoder Ring Presents The Sporkful’s Mission: ImPASTAble

    Right now Decoder Ring is working on a full season of new episodes coming this June, but in the meantime we wanted to share this episode from our friends over at The Sporkful. Each week on The Sporkful Dan Pashman and his guests obsess about food to learn more about people.
    This episode is the first in a five-part series called Mission: ImPASTAble. The series follows Dan as he embarks on an epic quest: to invent a new pasta shape, get it made, and actually sell it. It's great! To hear the rest of the series, go subscribe to The Sporkful on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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    • 31 min
    The Blue Steak Experiment

    The Blue Steak Experiment

    What took blue food so long to catch on? Today it’s all over the freezer aisle, in candies for kids, in tortilla chips, and novelty foods, but it wasn’t very long ago that food experts agreed: blue food was an impossible sell. Their best evidence was a study from the 1970’s in which subjects were served blue steaks to sickening effect. On this episode, we uncover the strange, misinformation-stuffed history of blue food, the rise of blue raspberry, and what to make of the blue food experiment that made those people sick. It may have something to do with Alfred Hitchcock. This episode was produced in collaboration with Proof, from America's Test Kitchen. Proof is a podcast that investigates the food we love. Subscribe to Proof on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify.
    Special programming note: Decoder Ring is going seasonal! That means you won’t hear from us for a while, but we’ll be back in 2021 with a bunch of new stories released week-by-week. Thanks for sticking with us, we’re excited to try something new, and we’ll see you soon. 
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    • 41 min
    The Cabbage Patch Kids Riots

    The Cabbage Patch Kids Riots

    In 1983, the Cabbage Patch Kids were released, causing widespread pandemonium in toy stores and in the media. How did a children'a toy inspire such bad adult behavior? On this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the strange world of the Cabbage Patch Kids to figure out why they hit it so big. The answer involves butt tattoos, slightly grotesque faces, industrial innovations, an origin story in a cabbage patch, and serious accusations of copyright theft.
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    • 36 min
    Jane Fonda's Workout, Part 2: Hanoi Jane's VHS Revolution

    Jane Fonda's Workout, Part 2: Hanoi Jane's VHS Revolution

    How did Hanoi Jane become Exercise Jane?
    This is the second part of our two-parter on Jane Fonda's Workout. If you haven't yet, listen to the previous episode "Jane and Leni" first, it will give you the full context for this episode. This time around we explore how an academy award winning actor and controversial political activist managed to transform herself into a category defining fitness icon. It's a story involving a persistent VHS entrepreneur, dozens of bizarre celebrity workout tapes, and Tricky Dick, himself.
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    • 50 min
    Jane Fonda's Workout, Part 1: Jane and Leni

    Jane Fonda's Workout, Part 1: Jane and Leni

    When Jane Fonda granted us an interview to talk about her famous workout tape, things didn't go as planned.
    On part one of a special two-part Decoder Ring, we explore the decades-long friendship of Jane Fonda and Leni Cazden, the relationship that birthed the workout that changed the world. It's a story of creation, regret, fame, forgiveness, trauma, survival, politics, and exercise. In two weeks, we return with part two: the story of the bestselling VHS tape of all time.
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    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

dearcolleen ,

Learned so much I didn’t know I needed to know

This is such a fascinating podcast. Each episode is brilliantly researched and warmly narrated. I’ve recommended it to everyone. My boss was so moved by the paper dolls episode that the gallery I work at is now planning an exhibition around it for next years pride season.

Wylizzle ,

Wow

I love this show like no other.

Steph_NZ ,

My new favourite podcast

Just discovered this podcast and love it. In-depth stories about things we have all noticed but haven’t often stopped to ponder. A must listen!

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