31 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

    • Documentary
    • 4.6 • 1.1K 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.

    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
    Mystery of the Mullet

    Mystery of the Mullet

    The mullet, the love-to-hate-it hairstyle is as associated with the 1980's as Ronald Reagan, junk bonds, and break dancing. But in at least one major way, we are suffering from a collective case of false memory syndrome. In this episode we track the rise and fall of the mullet, and also the lexical quandary at its heart: who named the mullet?

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    • 50 min
    The Karen

    The Karen

    The Karen, a white woman who surveys, inconveniences, and terrorizes, service workers and people of color is a relatively new term in the culture, but her character type has been with us for centuries. In this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the history of this type, from the code-names used during enslavement, to the contemporary menace of the COVID age.
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    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
1.1K Ratings

1.1K Ratings

Madeline6273839372 ,

Informative!

So interesting, I first listened to the ones I thought I would like but now I’m going back to hear all of them because it turns out they’re all really interesting!

Jimmy C420 ,

Is this how all liberals think? Jeesh..

Leave it to progressives to create mountains out of the mundane, Insert meaning where there is none, and attempt to explain reality with their contradicting viewpoints. It’s akin to watching a kitten playing with a ball of yarn as it entangles itself in an entrapment of its own design, and that’s where the true entertainment of this show lies, you can hear liberals attempt to explain aspects of reality that conservatives, and any normal person for that matter, just innately get. I’m leaving 4 stars because I can see past the obvious layers of liberal bias, Willa Paskin is a talented host, and the folks behind the scenes who work on this podcast create an entertaining and well produced show. But almost every episode is basically a combination of the Charlie conspiracy meme and the Phoebe teaching Joey meme.

Gurldawg ,

Interesting and Unique

I truly enjoy this podcast. It’s funny but interesting and unique.
I find it especially fun during THIS crazy time.
Highly recommend.

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