110 EpisodesProduced by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley

Food Through the Lens of Science and History

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Super Fry: The Fight for the Golden Frite

June 19th, 2019

Shoestring, waffle, curly, or thick-cut: however you slice it, nearly everyone loves a deep-fried, golden brown piece of potato. But that’s where the …

Eat This, Not That: The Surprising Science of Personalized Nutrition

June 10th, 2019

This episode, we’ve got the exclusive on the preliminary results of the world’s largest personalized nutrition experiment. Genetic epidemiologist Tim …

Guts and Glory

May 21st, 2019

What does it mean when your stomach rumbles? How do our bodies extract nutrients and vitamins from food? Does what you eat affect your mood? Digestion is an invisible, effortless, unconscious process—and one that, until …

BONUS: Introducing Science Rules! with Bill Nye

May 16th, 2019


We interrupt our regular programming to bring you news of a new podcast you might like. Bill Nye is on a mission to change the world—one phone call …

The Great Gastropod Pudding Off

May 6th, 2019

Four bakers, one evening, and one challenge: Who can steam the best spotted dick? On this week’s action-packed episode, Tom Gilliford, Selasi Gbormittah, and Yan Tsou of Great British Bake-Off fame, along with honorary …

Potatoes in Space!

April 23rd, 2019

Today, a half century after Neil Armstrong took one small step onto the surface of the Moon, there are still just three humans living in space—the crew of the International Space Station. But, after decades of talk, …

The Curry Chronicles

April 9th, 2019

Curry is, supposedly, Indian. But there is no such word in any of the country’s many official languages—and no Indian would use the term to describe …

The Bagelization of America

March 26th, 2019

Today, it’s a breakfast staple, but, as recently as 1960, The New York Times had to define it for readers—as “an unsweetened doughnut with rigor mortis.” That’s right, this episode is all about the bagel, that shiny, …

Can Diet Stop Alzheimer’s?

March 11th, 2019

Every three seconds, someone in the world develops Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a devastating disease: millions of people, as well as their caretakers, spend years dealing with disabling disorientation and memory loss. …

Seeds of Immortality

March 4th, 2019

When seeds first evolved, hundreds of millions of years ago, they not only revolutionized the plant world, but they also eventually sowed the path …

Pick A Pawpaw: America’s Forgotten Fruit

February 26th, 2019

In 1916, agricultural experts voted the pawpaw the American fruit most likely to succeed, ahead of blueberries and cranberries. But today, most …

Eating to Win: Gatorade, Muscle Milk, and… Chicken Nuggets?

February 12th, 2019

Ancient Greek Olympians swore by beans to give them a competitive edge. Japanese sumo wrestlers rely on a protein-rich soup called chankonabe to get into peak condition. And NBA all-stars Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, …

The Secret History of the Slave Behind Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

January 28th, 2019

Back in 1866, Jack Daniel’s became the first registered distillery in the United States; today, it’s the top-selling American whiskey in the world. For much of the brand’s 150-plus years, the story went that the young …

Sweet and Low (Calorie): The Story of Artificial Sweeteners

January 15th, 2019

For decades, ads for treats sweetened with substances like Sweet’N Low, NutraSweet, and Splenda have promised what seems like a miracle of modern science: that you can enjoy all the dessert you want, calorie-free. No …

Dirty Tricks and Data: The Great Soda Wars, Part 2

December 18th, 2018

Over the past five years, more than forty cities and countries around the world have passed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. These soda taxes are designed to improve public health—but do they? Or have all the …

Souring on Sweet: The Great Soda Wars, Part 1

December 4th, 2018

Public health researchers agree: the evidence is clear that Americans consume way too much sugar, that sugar contributes to weight gain, and that rising rates of obesity in the U.S. will lead to significant health …

The Truth is in the Tooth: Braces, Cavities, and the Paleo Diet

November 19th, 2018

Brush, floss, and forget: chances are, you only think about your teeth when they cause you trouble. But teeth have tales to tell, such as how old we …

Who Invented Mac and Cheese?

November 13th, 2018

The warm, gooey dish, a childhood staple across North America, is many things to many people: a mainstay of African-American Sunday dinners, …

How the Carrot Became Orange, and Other Stories

November 6th, 2018

Thousands of years ago, in what’s now Afghanistan, people unearthed the tangled, gnarled roots of Queen Anne’s Lace—a ubiquitous, hairy-stemmed plant with a spray of tiny white flowers. These fibrous, twisted roots were …

The Incredible Egg

October 23rd, 2018

We love eggs scrambled, fried, or poached; we couldn’t enjoy a quiche, meringue, or flan without them. But for scientists and archaeologists, these …

Espresso and Whisky: The Place of Time in Food

October 9th, 2018

Why does fish cook so fast? What’s the “wasabi window”? And can you really make 20-year-old aged whisky in six days? This episode, we’re looking at …

Why These Animals?

September 25th, 2018

In the West, when it comes to which meat is for dinner, we nearly always choose beef, pork, or chicken. Yet cows and pigs are only two of more than five thousand of species of mammals, and chicken is one of ten thousand …

Mango Mania: How the American Mango Lost its Flavor—and How it Might Just Get it Back

September 11th, 2018

Mangoes inspire passion, particularly in India, which is home to hundreds of varieties of the fruit. They are celebrated in Indian music, poetry, and …

Keeping it Fresh: Preservatives and The Poison Squad

August 28th, 2018

More than a century ago, enterprising manufacturers added brand-new chemical preservatives into food to keep it fresh as it traveled from the farm into rapidly growing American cities. Milk no longer went rancid! Meat …

Watch It Wiggle: The Jell-O Story

August 14th, 2018

It’s been described as the ultimate status symbol for the wealthy, as the perfect solution for dieters and the sick, and, confusingly, as a liquid …

Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan

June 19th, 2018

From rainbow-hued enameled stew pots to lightweight nonstick frying pans, the metal and ceramic vessels we use to heat our food are such an everyday aspect of the kitchen that they’re easy to take for granted. But make …

Hotbox: The Oven From Turnspit Dogs to Microwaves

June 5th, 2018

Humans are the only animals that cook their food, an innovation that changed the course of our evolution and the trajectory of the planet. But how …

Feed the World: How the U.S. Became the World’s Biggest Food Aid Donor—And Why That Might Not be Such a Great Thing

May 22nd, 2018

The United States is, by far, the world’s largest international food aid donor. Almost every year since the 1950s, it has been responsible for more than 50 percent of the billions of tons of food shipped from the parts …

Ripe for Global Domination: The Story of the Avocado

May 8th, 2018

Avocados are on a roll. More precisely, they’re on toast—a lot of toast. Last summer, British Vogue reported that more than three million new photos …

Meet the Man Who Found, Finagled, and Ferried Home the Foods We Eat Today

April 24th, 2018

You’ve probably never heard of David Fairchild. But if you’ve savored kale, mango, peaches, dates, grapes, a Meyer lemon, or a glass of craft beer lately, you’ve tasted the fruits of his globe-trotting travels in search …

Who Faked My Cheese?

April 10th, 2018

Cheeeeese: that one word alone causes our stomachs to rumble and mouths to water. The sheer variety of flavors and textures created by only a few ingredients—milk, salt, enzymes, and microbes—is astounding: hard and …

Marching on our Stomachs: The Science and History of Feeding the Troops

March 27th, 2018

For most of us, eggs are perfect packets of portable protein, and pizza is the lazy option for dinner. For the research team at the U.S. Army Natick …

Cooking the Books with Yotam and Nigella

March 13th, 2018

Who first started collecting recipes into cookbooks? Do cookbooks have a future in a world full of online recipes? And can cookbooks tell us anything …

Cutting the Mustard

February 27th, 2018

For some Americans, a trip to the ballpark isn’t complete without the bright yellow squiggle of French’s atop a hotdog. For the French, the slow burn of Dijon is a must-have complement to charcuterie. In the U.K., …

Remembrance of Things Pasta: A Saucy Tale

February 13th, 2018

It’s one of food’s most beautiful relationships: pasta and sauce. But which came first—and how on Earth are you supposed to figure out which of those …

We’ve Lost It: The Diet Episode

January 30th, 2018

Diet dreams are splashed across magazine covers and blare from the T.V., offering tips and tricks, that will, readers and viewers are promised, make weight loss easy and fast. Diet books making similar claims can be …

Meet Saffron, the World’s Most Expensive Spice

January 16th, 2018

It’s the poshest spice of all, often worth its weight in gold. But saffron also has a hidden history as a dye, a luxury self-tanner, and even a …

Secrets of Sourdough

December 18th, 2017

Today, you can find a huge variety of breads on supermarket shelves, only a few of which are called “sourdough.” For most of human history, though, any bread that wasn’t flat was sourdough—that is, it was leavened with …

Women, Food, Power … and Books!

November 21st, 2017

From “The Flintstones” to Focus on the Family, the stereotype has long been that men hunt and provide, while women just stir the pot. Thankfully, …

Crantastic: The Story of America’s Berry

November 7th, 2017

It’s nearly Thanksgiving, which, for most Americans, marks the one time a year their dinner table is adorned with jewel-like cranberries, simmered into a delicious sauce. But hundreds of years ago, cranberry sauce was a …

Cannibalism: From Calories to Kuru

October 24th, 2017

For most of us, it’s unthinkable: human is never what’s for dinner. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but this episode, we discover that not only is cannibalism widespread throughout the natural world, but it’s also much more …

Eataly World and the Future of Food Shopping

October 10th, 2017

In just over a month, the world’s first theme park devoted entirely to Italian food will open its doors—and Gastropod has the scoop! Among Eataly World‘s delights will be hunt-your-own truffles, baby lambs, beach …

What the Fluff is Marshmallow Creme?

September 26th, 2017


If you’re not from New England, you may never have heard of Fluff, or its legendary sandwich-based incarnation, the Fluffernutter. The sticky sweet marshmallow creme was invented exactly one hundred years ago in …

Lunch Gets Schooled

September 11th, 2017

Across the United States, school lunch is being transformed, as counties and cities partner with local farms to access fresh vegetables, as well as …

Sour Grapes: The History and Science of Vinegar

August 29th, 2017

It’s found in almost every home, whether it’s destined to dress salads or clean surfaces and kill fruit flies. But, effective as it is at those tasks, most of us struggle to get excited about vinegar. Today, however, a …

The Birds and The Bugs

August 15th, 2017

Chicken is such a mainstay of the contemporary American dinner table that it seems hard to imagine that, just a century ago, it was rare and expensive. But over the course of the 20th century, both chickens and the …

It’s Tea Time: Pirates, Polyphenols, and a Proper Cuppa

August 1st, 2017

This week, Gastropod tells the story of two countries and their shared obsession with a plant: Camellia sinensis, otherwise known as the tea bush. The Chinese domesticated tea over thousands of years, but they lost …

Peanuts: Peril and Promise

June 20th, 2017

Despite their diminutive scale, peanuts play an outsized role in American culture. Peanut butter has long been a mainstay of the American lunchbox, …

Fake Food

June 6th, 2017

Hamburgers that turn out to be horse, not beef. Honey sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Old, grey olives dipped in copper sulfate solution to …

Here’s Why You Should Care About Southern Food

May 22nd, 2017

The food of the South is one of the most complicated, complex, contradictory cuisines in the U.S. This is the region where a monumental mixing of …

Better Believe It’s Butter

May 9th, 2017

Butter is beautiful: solid golden bars add the perfect flakiness to pastry, give cake a delightfully tender springiness, and melt mouth-wateringly …

Meet Koji, Your New Favorite Fungus

April 25th, 2017

It’s impossible to imagine Japanese meals without soy sauce, or the umami-rich fermented bean paste called miso, or the rice-based spirit known as sake. Which means that Japanese cuisine depends on the one fungus that …

V is for Vitamin

April 10th, 2017

They’re added to breakfast cereal, bread, and even Pop-Tarts, giving the sweetest, most processed treats a halo of health. Most people pop an extra dose for good measure, perhaps washing it down with fortified milk. But …

Hacking Taste

March 14th, 2017


Taste is the oldest of our five senses, and yet perhaps the least understood. It’s far more complicated than salty versus sweet: new research is …

Cork Dork: Inside the Weird World of Wine Appreciation

February 28th, 2017

“There’s the faintest soupçon of asparagus and just a flutter of Edam cheese,” says Paul Giamatti in the movie Sideways. Believe it or not, he’s …

To Eat or Not to Eat Meat

February 14th, 2017

With flexitarianism on the rise throughout the developed world, and everyone from Bill Clinton to Beyoncé endorsing the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet, it can sometimes seem as though meat is just a bad habit …

We Heart Chocolate

January 31st, 2017

In the weeks before Valentine’s Day, U.S. consumers will buy nearly 58 million pounds of chocolate. This love affair is not limited to just one …

Inventing the Restaurant: From Bone Broth to Michelin

January 17th, 2017

Early humans may have visited each others’ caves for a shared meal, but they wouldn’t have expected to be served at their own table, or to choose …

Gettin’ Fizzy With It

December 13th, 2016

‘Tis the season for a glass of bubbly—but this episode we’re not talking champagne, we’re talking seltzer. America is in the throes of a serious seltzer craze, with consumption of the bubbly stuff doubling in only a …

The Spice Curve: From Pepper to Sriracha with Sarah Lohman

November 29th, 2016

American food has a reputation for being bland—but, according to historical gastronomist Sarah Lohman, “It’s nonsense that Americans don’t like spicy …

The Buzz on Honey

November 15th, 2016

Honey seems like a simple, comforting food, slathered on toast, spooned down to soothe sore throats, and beloved of bears, both plush and real. In reality, this sticky combination of bee spit and evaporated nectar is a …

What is Native American Cuisine?

November 1st, 2016

Pasta, sushi, tacos, samosas, and pad thai: In the U.S., enthusiastic eaters will likely be able to name traditional dishes from a wide variety of …

Oysters: History and Science on the Half Shell

October 18th, 2016

We’re living in a golden age for oysters. Just two decades ago, an ostreophile would have thought him or herself lucky to choose among a handful of …

Counting Fish

October 4th, 2016

This week, we are taking on one of the universe’s great mysteries: how many fish are in the sea? If you stop to think about it, it seems almost impossible to figure out how many fish there are—after all, they’re …

Seaweed Special

September 13th, 2016

Seaweed farming is booming: the global harvest has doubled in the past decade, according to a new report from the United Nations University, and it’s now worth more than all the world’s lemons and limes. Most of that …

The Salt Wars

August 23rd, 2016

Salt is a magical substance. It reduces bitterness, enhances sweetness, boosts flavor, and preserves perishable foods. Without it, we would die: the …

Kombucha Culture

August 8th, 2016

If you haven’t tasted kombucha yet, you probably will soon. The sour-sweet, fizzy, fermented tea is becoming ubiquitous in trendy cafes, workplaces, and health food stores across America. Where did it come from, and how …

Keeping Kosher: When Jewish Law Met Processed Food

July 26th, 2016

Roughly two percent of Americans are Jewish, and only a small fraction of them keep kosher. Yet between a third and a half of all packaged food in an American supermarket has a kosher label on it. How did kosher law …

Poultry Power: The Fried Chicken Chronicles

July 12th, 2016

Juicy, crispy, crunchy…fried chicken is undoubtedly delicious. But it’s also complicated, in ways that go far deeper than the science behind that perfect crust. From slavery to entrepreneurship and from yard fowl to …

Outside the Box: The Story of Food Packaging

June 28th, 2016

The invention of food packaging is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. It may seem hard to imagine today, but the first clay pots made the great civilizations of the ancient world possible, while paper’s first use, …

Who Invented the Cherry Tomato?

June 14th, 2016

In the 1960s, cherry tomatoes were nearly impossible to find in the grocery store. By the 1990s, it was hard to get a salad without them. Somehow, within a couple of decades, the tiny tomatoes had taken over. Where did …

Everything Old is Brew Again

May 31st, 2016

Pull up a bar stool and prepare to open both your mind and your palate: it’s time to meet beer before it settled down into the fizzy brown brew we …

Museums and the Mafia: The Secret History of Citrus

April 19th, 2016

A slice of lime in your cocktail, a lunchbox clementine, or a glass of OJ at breakfast: citrus is so common today that most of us have at least one lurking on the kitchen counter or in the back of the fridge. But don’t …

Grand Theft Food

April 5th, 2016

It’s easy to assume that burglars and thieves are always after conventional valuables: cash, jewels, or high-end electronics. But some of the most …

Caffeine: The World’s Most Popular Drug

March 21st, 2016

A tablespoon of it will kill you, but most of us feel like death without it: we’re talking about caffeine this episode. Inspired by a listener question — does green tea have more or less caffeine than black? and what …

The Maple Boom

March 8th, 2016

Many people only think of maple syrup at the breakfast table, when they’re facing down a stack of hot, fluffy pancakes or some French toast. They’re missing out. Maple is undergoing a major boom, newly ascendant in …

First Foods: Learning to Eat

February 23rd, 2016

How do we learn to eat? It may seem like an obvious question, but it’s actually quite a complicated process. Who decided that mushed-up vegetables were the perfect first food—and has that always been the case? What …

The Food of Love

February 9th, 2016

Throughout history, humans have attributed aphrodisiac powers to certain foods, from legendary lover Casanova’s diet of fifty oysters for breakfast …

The End of the Calorie

January 26th, 2016

For most of us, the calorie is just a number on the back of the packet or on the display at the gym. But what is it, exactly? And how did we end up with this one unit with which to measure our food? Is a calorie the …

End-Of-Year Feast

December 15th, 2015

Cheese science, cilantro phobia, and fork usage: we’ve covered it all on Gastropod. And, for our special end-of-year episode, we’re bringing you updates on some our favorite stories. Join us to find out what happened …

States’ Plates

December 1st, 2015

What’s the dish that best represents your home state? Whose version or recipe would you choose to define it? And what do those dishes tell us about …

The Mushroom Underground

November 17th, 2015

They’re a kingdom unto themselves, neither animal, vegetable, nor mineral. They count among their number both the world’s largest organism and millions of microscopic, single-celled creatures. And yet not only have they …

Peak Booze

November 3rd, 2015

Are you part of Generation Peak Booze? In this episode, we dive into the factors behind the ups and downs in alcohol consumption in the U.K. and the …

Mezcal: Everything but the Worm

October 20th, 2015

It’s nearly the Day of the Dead in Mexico, which gives us the perfect excuse to get familiar with the country’s national spirit: tequila. Or wait, …

The Good, The Bad, The Cilantro

October 6th, 2015

On the surface, it’s just a leafy green herb. Its feathery fronds add a decorative note and a distinctive flavor to dishes across Latin America and …

The Bitter Truth

September 22nd, 2015

It’s one of the five basic tastes, along with salty, sweet, sour, and umami. It’s also the least popular and the most mysterious. “That tastes …

Inside the Food Lab with Kenji López-Alt

September 7th, 2015

He has boiled hundreds of eggs in the quest for breakfast perfection. He has expended thousands of words on the divisive subject of mashed potatoes. …

The United States of Chinese Food

August 25th, 2015

Wander into any town in the U.S., no matter how small and remote, and you’re likely to find at least one Chinese restaurant. In fact, there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King …

The Whole Hog

August 11th, 2015

Bacon, bratwurst, bangers, barbecue: these are just a few of the many ways people around the world enjoy feasting on pigs. Of all the domesticated animals humans consume, Sus scrofa domesticus is the most fascinating, …

The Scoop on Ice Cream

July 28th, 2015

It’s one of the most complex food products you’ll ever consume: a thermodynamic miracle that contains all three states of matter—solid, liquid, and …

Crunch, Crackle, and Pop

July 14th, 2015

“Sound is the forgotten flavor sense,” says experimental psychologist Charles Spence. In this episode, we discover how manipulating sound can …

Field Recordings

June 30th, 2015

Plants that can hear themselves being eaten. Microphone-equipped drones that eavesdrop on sick chickens. Lasers that detect an insect’s wing-beats from dozens of feet away.

In this James Bond-inspired episode of …

The Cocktail Hour

May 26th, 2015

Whether you sip it with friends, chug it before hitting the dance floor, or take it as a post-work pick-me-up, there’s clearly nothing like a …

Gastropod on Gastropods

May 4th, 2015

Finally, Gastropod is tackling gastropods! In this episode, Cynthia visits one of America’s first and only snail farms.

Though Gastropod is, as …

Savor Flavor

April 21st, 2015

Why does grape candy taste so fake? What on earth is blue raspberry, anyway? And what is the difference between natural and artificial, at least when it comes to flavor?

Join us as we taste the rainbow on this episode …

DNA Detectives

April 7th, 2015

DNA: it’s the genetic information that makes plants and animals what we are. Most of the time when you hear about it in the context of food, it’s to do with breeding. But in this short episode, we bring you two DNA …

Say Cheese!

March 23rd, 2015

Cheese is the chameleon of the food world, as well as one of its greatest delights. Fresh and light or funky and earthy, creamy and melty or crystalline and crumbly—no other food offers such a variety of flavors and …

Extreme Salad and Crazy Potatoes

March 3rd, 2015

Step away from the French fries—and even from that bag of pre-washed mixed greens lurking in the crisper drawer. It’s time to reconsider the potato and up your salad game.

In this episode, Cynthia and Nicky talk to …

No Scrubs: Breeding a Better Bull

February 17th, 2015

In 1900, the average dairy cow in America produced 424 gallons of milk each year. By 2000, that figure had more than quadrupled, to 2,116 gallons. In this episode of Gastropod, we explore the incredible science that …

Enhanced Eating with Dan Pashman

February 2nd, 2015


Have you ever wondered how to avoid sandwich sogginess, what scented soap to pair with your restaurant order, and whether airplane food can be made to taste of anything at all? Dan Pashman has, and his new book, Eat …

Breakfast of Champions

January 20th, 2015

Breakfast: the most important meal of the day. Or is it? In this episode of Gastropod, we explore the science and history behind the most intentionally designed, the most industrialized, and the most argued about meal …

Night of the Living Radishes

January 2nd, 2015


For this special New Year episode, Gastropod transports you to Oaxaca, Mexico, for the legendary Night of the Radishes, celebrated the night before Christmas eve, where locals present their most elaborate and inventive …

Kale of the Sea

December 9th, 2014

Call off the search for the new kale: we’ve found it, and it’s called kelp! In this episode of Gastropod, we explore the science behind the new wave of seaweed farms springing up off the New England coast, and discover …

Bite: Smoked Pigeon and Other Subnatural Delights

November 25th, 2014


In this week’s bite-sized episode, Nicky travels to the campus of Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, for a day of talks and tastings

The Microbe Revolution

November 11th, 2014

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the human microbiome.

Research into the composition, function, and importance of the galaxy of bacteria, fungi, and …

Bite: Forgotten Fruits & the Future of Food?

October 28th, 2014


We’re back with a bite-sized discussion of two fascinating food history and science stories that have crossed our paths in the last couple of weeks. This time, co-host Nicky spends a week living on Soylent, the Silicon …

Dan Barber’s Quest for Flavor

October 14th, 2014

In this latest episode of Gastropod, chef and author Dan Barber takes listeners on a journey around the world in search of great flavor and the ecosystems that support it, from Spain to the deep South.

You’ll hear how a …

Bite: What America Could Taste Like

September 30th, 2014


We promised we’d serve a bite-sized snack in between our full-length episodes, and here it is—a short and snappy update, in which we share two of the …

Episode 1: The Golden Spoon

September 6th, 2014

Chances are, you’ve spent more time thinking about the specs on your smartphone than about the gadgets that you use to put food in your mouth.

But the shape and material properties of forks, spoons, and knives turn out …

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