Decoder Ring

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.

Society & Culture
Documentary
History
1
Why Do So Many Coffee Shops Look the Same?
Algorithms are shaping our world, even down to latte art.
29 min
2
2024 Teaser
1 min
3
The Forgotten Video Game About Slavery
In 1992, the company behind The Oregon Trail tried to simulate Black history. It did not go well.
43 min
4
The Dating Manual Unlike Any Other
The Rules became a controversial bestseller and sparked instant debate. But was the advice any good?
33 min
5
Mailbag: The Recorder, Limos, and “Baby on Boar...
We answer your questions about the ubiquitous musical instrument, ‘80s automotive luxury, and more.
36 min
6
When Art Pranksters Invaded Melrose Place
In the mid-1990s, an artist collective smuggled its provocative work onto the set of the hit TV show.
37 min
7
The Fast Decline of the Slow Dance
The rise and fall of an awkward rite of passage.
41 min
8
Fall 2023 Teaser
1 min
9
Think Catchphrases Are Dead? Eat My Shorts.
Bless up: It’s a whole episode about “Doh!”, “Dealbreaker!” and “Did I do that?”
36 min
10
The Quest for a Homemade Hovercraft
With his scouting days long over, a Slate producer enlists his dad for one last merit badge.
38 min
11
A Brief History of Making Out
Is deep kissing a universal human behavior?
32 min
12
What's Really Going On Inside a Mosh Pit?
The etiquette, science and enduring appeal of a concertgoing ritual.
29 min
13
The Great Parmesan Cheese Debate
Is a Wisconsin version more authentic than its beloved Italian counterpart?
40 min
14
Summer 2023 Teaser
On the new season of Decoder Ring: Cultural mysteries about a beloved Italian cheese, the science of mosh pits and a brief history of passionate kissing.
1 min
15
Who Owns the Tooth Fairy?
The Tooth Fairy’s freak flag is still flying.
34 min
16
Why You Can’t Find a Damn Parking Spot
Parking is a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. We can get ourselves out of it.
33 min
17
The Artist Who Was Both Loved and Disdained
The painter LeRoy Neiman was adored by many Americans—but not the art critics.
33 min
18
The Curious Case of Columbo's Message to Romani...
Why does no one remember the T.V. detective’s Cold War missive?
36 min
19
The Curious Case of Columbo's Message to Romani...
Was the cigar-chomping detective also a Cold War diplomat?
39 min
20
Spring 2023 Teaser
Decoder Ring's upcoming season.
1 min
21
Slate Plus Exclusive: The Making of This Season
1 min
22
The Mailbag Episode
From kids menus to succulents to the chicken that crossed the road, we answer your questions.
34 min
23
Encore: ‘You’ve Got Mail’ Got It Wrong
Who's afraid of... Barnes & Noble? The now quaint conflict that inspired the 1998 romantic comedy.
36 min
24
Cellino & Barnes, Injury Attorneys, 800-888-8888
Cellino and Barnes became the literal poster-men for personal injury advertising.
35 min
25
How Preppy Became Streetwear
Ralph Lauren’s modern Ivy style was remixed by ’Lo-Heads.
32 min