Decoder Ring

14 EpisodesProduced by Slate Podcasts

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.

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Pillow Talk

July 15th, 2019

30:36

Over the last half century the decorative pillow has been crowding out our sitting and sleeping spaces, multiplying across our beds and couches …

Chuck E. Cheese Pizza War

June 11th, 2019

48:53

The King was an  animatronic lounge singer who performed in Chuck E. Cheese locations in the 1980's and early 90's, but then he disappeared. The King was a victim of a conflict known as the pizza wars, when Chuck E. …

Videomate: Men

April 29th, 2019

35:53

Videomate: Men is a VHS tape released in 1987 featuring 60 single men pitching themselves as dates to women on the other side of the TV screen, who …

Truck Nutz

March 25th, 2019

35:47
Truck Nutz are a brand name for the dangling plastic testicles some people affix to the bumper or hitch of their vehicle. Also known as Bull’s Balls, …

Baby Shark

February 25th, 2019

38:17

Baby Shark is an megaviral YouTube video, an unstoppable earworm, a top 40 hit, a Eurodance smash, a decades old campfire song, and the center of an …

The Grifter

January 31st, 2019

53:46
Brett Johnson was a career criminal: a fraudster, a con man, a cyber criminal, but now he’s a legal person operating on the right side of the law, helping companies stop people like he used to be. His story is the stuff …

Sad Jennifer Aniston

December 3rd, 2018

43:50
Jennifer Aniston’s story had it all: Heartbreak, secrecy, sex, betrayal. But what it also had was a new kind of tabloid: Us Weekly and its copycats. …

The Incunabula Papers

October 29th, 2018

53:19
Ong's Hat, or The Incunabula Papers, is a conspiracy theory that arose on the early internet. Combining cutting edge science, mysticism, and obvious …

Hotel Art

October 1st, 2018

32:27
Hotel Art used to be one of the ultimate symbols of bad taste, it was often ugly, kitschy, and strange. Today, the art you find in a hotel is far …

The Paper Doll Club

August 27th, 2018

38:34
Paper dolls were a ubiquitous part of children’s lives for decades, and then mostly disappeared. David Wolfe was a boy growing up in the 1950’s, with …

The Basement Affair

July 30th, 2018

43:17
What are the real reasons people go on reality TV? This episode follows the story of Ann Hirsch and Cathy Nardone, two women cast on VH1’s “Frank the …

Clown Panic

June 25th, 2018

37:46
Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every month host Willa Paskin,Slate’s TV critic, takes on a cultural question, object, …

The Johnlock Conspiracy

June 4th, 2018

52:02
Who gets to decide if Sherlock Holmes is gay? For over a century, fans of Sherlock Holmes have been analyzing, debating, and creating new texts with …

The Laff Box

April 30th, 2018

32:42
Welcome to Decoder Ring! Decoder Ring is a monthly podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every episode we’ll take on a cultural object, idea, or …
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