Decoder Ring

Decoder Ring

www.slate.com/decoderring
Cracking cultural mysteries


Gotta Get Down on Friday
May 11 • 44 min
Rebecca Black’s music video for Friday was Youtube’s most watched video of 2011, thrusting the thirteen-year-old Rebecca into a very harsh spotlight. Dubbed “The Worst Music Video Ever Made” Friday was an almost universal object of derision. This is the…
Unicorn Poop
Apr 8 • 37 min
How did poop get cute? On this episode of Decoder Ring we trace the rise of cute poop from the original Japanese poop emoji to more modern poop toys which rely on the Youtube algorithm to get seen and sold. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and…
Rubber Duckie
Mar 19 • 26 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. How did the humble rubber duck become an icon of bath time? On this episode of Decoder Ring we talk to rubber…
The Shop Around the Corner
Mar 2 • 38 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. The 1998 romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is about the brutal fight between an…
Friend of Dorothy
Feb 10 • 33 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. When Peter Mac was young, he found solace from his troubles in the voice of Judy Garland. He’s now been a…
The Stowe-Byron Controversy
Feb 3 • 41 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote an exposé of Lord Byron’s incestuous affair in 1869, it nearly destroyed The…
Murphy’s Law
Dec 9, 2019 • 38 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Nick Spark fell down a rabbit hole tracking down the origins of Murphy’s Law, the ubiquitous phrase that says…
Gender Reveal Party
Nov 6, 2019 • 40 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Jenna Karvunidis invented the gender reveal party, but now she has regrets. On this episode of Decoder Ring,…
Bart Simpson Mania
Oct 7, 2019 • 48 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. In the early 1990’s Bart Simpson became a breakout star while also becoming a target in the culture war,…
Ice Cream Truck
Aug 12, 2019 • 41 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Why is the ice cream truck business so bananas? On this episode of Decoder Ring we find out via three…
Pillow Talk
Jul 15, 2019 • 30 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Over the last half century the decorative pillow has been crowding out our sitting and sleeping spaces,…
Chuck E. Cheese Pizza War
Jun 11, 2019 • 48 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. The King was an animatronic lounge singer who performed in Chuck E. Cheese locations in the 1980’s and early…
Videomate: Men
Apr 29, 2019 • 35 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Videomate: Men is a VHS tape released in 1987 featuring 60 single men pitching themselves as dates to women…
Truck Nutz
Mar 25, 2019 • 35 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Truck Nutz are a brand name for the dangling plastic testicles some people affix to the bumper or hitch of…
Baby Shark
Feb 25, 2019 • 38 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Baby Shark is an megaviral YouTube video, an unstoppable earworm, a top 40 hit, a Eurodance smash, a decades…
The Grifter
Jan 30, 2019 • 53 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Brett Johnson was a career criminal: a fraudster, a con man, a cyber criminal, but now he’s a legal person…
Sad Jennifer Aniston
Dec 3, 2018 • 43 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Jennifer Aniston’s story had it all: Heartbreak, secrecy, sex, betrayal. But what it also had was a new kind…
The Incunabula Papers
Oct 29, 2018 • 53 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Ong’s Hat, or The Incunabula Papers, is a conspiracy theory that arose on the early internet. Combining…
Hotel Art
Oct 1, 2018 • 32 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Hotel Art used to be one of the ultimate symbols of bad taste, it was often ugly, kitschy, and strange.…
The Paper Doll Club
Aug 27, 2018 • 38 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Paper dolls were a ubiquitous part of children’s lives for decades, and then mostly disappeared. David Wolfe…
The Basement Affair
Jul 30, 2018 • 43 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. What are the real reasons people go on reality TV? This episode follows the story of Ann Hirsch and Cathy…
Clown Panic
Jun 25, 2018 • 37 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every month host Willa Paskin,Slate’s TV critic,…
The Johnlock Conspiracy
Jun 4, 2018 • 52 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Who gets to decide if Sherlock Holmes is gay? For over a century, fans of Sherlock Holmes have been…
The Laff Box
Apr 30, 2018 • 32 min
Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn. Sign up now to listen and support our work. Welcome to Decoder Ring! Decoder Ring is a monthly podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every episode…