Slate Fare

Slate’s Favorite Slate

25 years of gripping, amazing, and sometimes just plain “odd” storytelling, in audio and print, chosen by Slate Plus Members and Slatesters alike.

Five pictures frame containing various faces, a Cleveland Browns player, friends at a dinner table, a drippy slice of pizza and a man opening his shirt.
Photo illustration by Slate

As 2021 slides toward an eventful close, we wanted to end the year with a different kind of retrospective: a look back through all 25 years of Slate’s existence. And so we asked some current and former staffers and contributors—as well as our loyal Slate Plus members—to submit a few Slate podcast episodes and articles that they will always remember.

Help us mark the end of 2021, and 25 years of Slate …

Bugs Bunny vs. Daffy Duck
Why voters always choose the wascally wabbit for president.
By Jeff Greenfield


“I have literally never forgotten it and I feel like it has enormous explanatory power in each election.”

Submitted by Lili Loofbourow, Slate staff writer

“He Made Us All Victims and Accomplices”
For 20 years, I’ve felt it was too early to speak up about Judge Alex Kozinski. Now I fear it’s too late. 
By Dahlia Lithwick


“I adore Dahlia’s work. All of it. This piece is my favorite because, at the time, it was both newsworthy and deeply personal, and it brilliantly captures how easy it is to become complicit in the abuse of power.”

Submitted by Sarah Carroll

My Husband’s Other Wife
She died, so I could find the man I love.
By Emily Yoffe


Submitted by Emily Bazelon, co-host of Slate’s Political Gabfest

This article was also submitted by two Slate Plus members:

“It’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this request. It’s so heartbreaking, and at the same time so affirmative and loving.” —Leslie Hoffecker

“I have aspired to think about important and complicated things in my life in this way ever since I read it.” —cartiertx

Keep Hope Alive
Demoralized Democrats have a road map for success in Trump’s America. It was written by Jesse Jackson.
By Jamelle Bouie

“The best of all the things the spirit of Slate embodies: an unexpected but intriguing argument, ample sourcing and contextual background, an alternative look back at one often-misremembered moment in history, and a thesis providing reason to be hopeful in a uniquely awful time (in this case, the election of Donald Trump).”


Submitted by Nitish Pahwa, Slate Web Editor

Decoder Ring: Chuck E Cheese Pizza Wars
In the 1980s, two restaurant chains duked it out to become the preeminent robot pizza arcade.

“Willa Paskin, as host, really weaved an incredible story here, one that may seem niche and specific but that actually transcends its subject matter. In exploring a for-kids business and the adults still obsessed with it, she leaves no weird detail unexamined in this history of animatronic figures and a symbol like Charles Entertainment Cheese.”

Submitted by Nitish Pahwa, Slate Web Editor


Decoder Ring was also submitted by Slate Plus member Megan Abbott:

“All of the episodes are great, illuminating, but special kudos to the soap opera and Tootsie-shot episodes.”


Dear Prudence: Brotherly Love
My twin and I share an earth-shattering secret that could devastate our family—should we reveal it?
Advice by Emily Yoffe

“So odd.”

Submitted by Catherine Shea 

The Welfare Queen
In the 1970s, Ronald Reagan villainized a Chicago woman for bilking the government. Her other sins—including possible kidnappings and murders—were far worse. 
By Josh Levin

Submitted by David Plotz, co-host of Slate’s Political Gabfest

Watching the Couples Go By
​​Why is this basic woman so valuable to this basic man whose arm she holds?
By Herbert Stein


“I still think this is an incredible piece. Written just after his wife died.”

Submitted by David Plotz, co-host of Slate’s Political Gabfest


I Found the Exact Moment When Bernie Sanders Became 78
It was more than three decades ago.
By Heather Schwedel

“Slate produced plenty of serious and legitimate coverage in 2020, the most serious and transformative year in recent memory—Aymann Ismail’s profile of the high school kid who called the police on George Floyd in particular comes to mind. Amid all of that, this piece [is what] I kept going back to the entire rest of the year.”

Submitted by Jesse Rifkin

America Is a Sham
Policy changes in reaction to the coronavirus reveal how absurd so many of our rules are to begin with. 
By Dan Kois

“It both articulates precisely something I’ve felt for a very long time and have had trouble communicating with others AND takes it one step further. Ideal relationship with a piece of writing, obviously.”


Submitted by poprigai 

Do Commandos Go Commando? 
Soldiers and their skivvies.
By Daniel Engber


How Complicated Was the Byzantine Empire? 
Right-wingers are always complaining about the “Byzantine” tax code.
By Brian Palmer

“The economy, the wit, the spirit of impish inquiry—at Slate, asking the right question has always been at least as important as delivering a useful answer.”

Submitted by Julia Turner, co-host of Slate’s Culture Gabfest

Introducing Reconstruction
Our new Slate Academy finds the seeds of our present politics in the period after the Civil War.
By Jamelle Bouie and Rebecca Onion

“Hard topic, put in context so well.”

Submitted by Jody Lee

Blogging the Bible 
What I learned from reading the entire Bible.
By David Plotz


Submitted by Jamelle Bouie, New York Times columnist and former Slate chief political correspondent

Risk Series
By John Dickerson

“A great piece of long writing; the tag of ‘America’s Greatest Idea’ grabs you but seems a bit ridiculous … but the articles make it work.”

Submitted by Samuel Fiddian

The Abortions We Don’t Talk About
Six Slate women tell their stories.
By Slate Staff

Submitted by Michele Siegel, managing producer of Slate Studios, and Jared Hohlt, Slate’s editor in chief

The Our One Fight series

“Because mild strife and ambiguity loves company.”

Submitted by Jared Hohlt, Slate’s editor in chief

“The year-end Movie Club and Music Club dialogues between Slate critics and other guest writers: I always learn something, and I am always entertained.”


Submitted by Timothy Dyke

Hit Parade: The Lost And Lonely Edition
Three decades ago, the biggest alternative rock came with a British accent—and morose lyrics. 

“Because those are all bands I grew up with, so it’s one that was close to where I’m from. But, really, even the episodes Chris Molanphy does about bands I’m not into are still stellar.”


Submitted by Joe Hohler

Hit Parade: What a Fool Believes Edition
How Yacht Rock, a genre invented in the ’00s, gave a name to the smooth West Coast music of the ’70s and ’80s.

“It was escapism from bad news; nostalgia for music I like.”

Submitted by lilbitmcd

Hit Parade: The Tramps Like Us Edition
Bruce Springsteen went from “new Dylan” to pop pinup when he learned to keep the catchy songs for himself.


Submitted by Glenn

Space Invaders
Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.
By Farhad Manjoo

“It convinced my boss to allow me to correctly use one space after a sentence, instead of him requiring me to improperly use two spaces. My sanity is preserved!”

Submitted by Tina 


“Dahlia Lithwick is simply the best—informed, smart, determined, and warm. A great host with a unique array of guests.”

Submitted by e.ruge

Our Bitmoji, Ourselves
​​I outsourced my emotions to a digital avatar. You should too.
By Amanda Hess

One Year: 1977, The Miracle Cure
Medical experts said the cancer drug Laetrile was dangerous quackery. It became a national sensation anyway.

Submitted by Heather Schwedel, Slate Staff Writer


The Browns Were Supposed to Be Good. Instead, They Are Bad.
By Nick Greene

“It is literally the greatest headline ever written. A genuinely iconic piece of sportswriting.”

Submitted by Elizabeth Sandifer

The Political Gabfest: The “Great Resignation” Edition

“I have been a listener since the beginning, and the friendship, camaraderie, and sharp, witty conversation is something I look forward to every week. The Slate Plus bit about them interrupting each other was so wonderful, the way they were charitable with each other and so self-aware of themselves and how they are perceived by the audience. They are the kinds of friends I wish I had in real life.” —cartiertx


“They feel like family now, I have been listening since almost the beginning.” —Kelly Grounds


“This Is Going to Change the World”
As the new millennium dawned, a mysterious invention from a charismatic millionaire became a viral sensation—then went down in flames. Ever since, I’ve wondered: Was it all my fault?
By Dan Kois


The Great Banana Revolution
Should you peel bananas from the bottom up?
By Steven E. Landsburg

Submitted by Daniel Engber, Atlantic senior editor and former Slate columnist

Dear Care and Feeding: How Do I Know Which of My Daughter’s Adorable Crayon Drawings to Keep?
I’m not a hoarder, but won’t she be upset if I throw them away? 
Advice by Nicole Cliffe

Submitted by Pamela McMullin

Slow Burn: The L.A. Riots (and every other season of Slow Burn!)


“Before I worked at Slate, I put Slow Burn’s first season on during a road trip with my now ex-boyfriend. And while that relationship (thankfully) did not last, my love and appreciation for Slow Burn certainly has. I binged the seasons on Watergate and Bill Clinton’s impeachment back-to-back in a matter of days, and have been lucky enough to work on every other season we’ve put out starting with Joel Anderson’s first on the murders of Tupac and Biggie, followed by Josh Levin’s personal examination of David Duke, and Noreen Malone’s clinical exploration of the lead-up to the Iraq war.

“Our most recent season on the 1992 L.A. riots draws powerful parallels with the current moment making for gripping and urgent listening. Exemplary storytelling by returning host Joel Anderson and the Slow Burn team.”


Submitted by Katie Rayford, Slate’s director of media relations

Mr. Bailey’s Class
Before he was Philip Roth’s biographer, Blake Bailey taught the eighth grade. His students say he made them feel special. They worshipped him. They trusted him. He used it all against them.
By Josh Levin, Susan Matthews, and Molly Olmstead


“Josh, Susan and Molly’s investigation into biographer Blake Bailey’s abuse and grooming of his middle school students over a period of years, from the point of view of more than 20 former students they interviewed, is devastating, damning and deeply important work. As is Bailey accuser Eve Crawford Peyton’s gut-wrenching and powerful personal essay about what it was like to be Blake Bailey’s student, and then his victim.”


Submitted by Katie Rayford, Slate’s director of media relations

The Washington _________
Why Slate will no longer refer to Washington’s NFL team as the Redskins.
By David Plotz

“He was right, he stuck with it, and now the culture-at-large has recognized it.”

Submitted by Jan Smith

20 Guests, 19 Pies
What happens when a Thanksgiving tradition gets completely out of hand. 
By David Plotz

“I love pie. I love to make pies. Every time someone mentions multiple pies at Thanksgiving, I send them this piece.”


Submitted by Carol

This Sure Looks Like Mitt Romney’s Secret Twitter Account (Update: It Is)
Meet “Pierre Delecto.”
By Ashley Feinberg

“A masterclass in internet sleuthing.”

Submitted by Sofie Werthan, Slate audience engagement editor. 


Werthan also submitted the following articles:

Knotweed Can’t Be Killed. But Can It Be Stopped?
It grows rapidly. It’s nearly impossible to kill. It’s terrorized England. And now it’s all over my American backyard.
By Henry Grabar

“Ever since reading this article, I can’t look at my backyard without feeling a twinge of fear that knotweed is going to spring forth from the earth any minute now.”

The Lines of Code That Changed Everything
Apollo 11, the JPEG, the first pop-up ad, and 33 other bits of software that have transformed our world.

“This project shines a light on a whole bunch of innovations that you probably take for granted (or just don’t know about) but are actually making a big difference in our lives—for better or worse.”


Debt Nation
The faces and lives behind America’s student loan crisis.
By Rachelle Hampton

“This reporting is so effective: It cuts through the typical political blame games and incomprehensibly large numbers to show the human story.”

Terra Infirma
The rise and fall of quicksand.
By Daniel Engber

“As a lover of obscure research rabbit holes, I have a soft spot in my heart for this article on quicksand, which manages to incorporate data from decades of film scenes, references to the 1990s fetish scene, and a quote from MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”

If It Happened There … the Government Shutdown
By Joshua Keating

“A simple but extremely smart and compelling concept.”

A Dog Man Gets a Cat
I never liked cats much. Then Mother moved into my barn. 
By Jon Katz


“The Katz columns are collectively a treasure.”

Submitted by Dave Anderson

A few additional Katz columns submitted by Slate Plus members:

My Dog Has a Crush on My Ram
A love story.
By Jon Katz

“It’s a small, slight thing, but so mysterious and heartwarming.”

Submitted by Sarah Lyall

The Loneliness of Rose
What happens when a dog works too much.
By Jon Katz

“I’ve recommended this story to many friends over the years. I think the inner thoughts we attribute to dogs are really our own.”

Submitted by Matthew Ingram 

Happy Birthday, You Bastard
Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner.
By John Swansburg


Submitted by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times Opinion columnist and former Slate staff writer


There Once Was a Girl
Against the false narratives of anorexia.
By Katy Waldman

Submitted by Moira Chouaf

Sharknado, Cronut … Is This the Summer of the Neolexic Portmanteau?
By L.V. Anderson

“That phrase ‘neolexic portmanteau’ has stuck with me ever since, I love it so much and am sure to call it out every time I see another example of it in the wild (which is not all too often).”


Submitted by Alex Mizrahi

His election that November came as a surprise … 
By Timothy Snyder

“Reading, I thought I was considering Trump’s rise from an unusual perspective. How shocking—and bracing—to realize in paragraph 6 (!) that I was reading about Hitler’s.”

Submitted by Bill Scheffer


Kindly Brontosaurus
The amazing, prehistoric posture that will get you whatever you want, whenever you want it.
By Jessica Winter

“This is so applicable to everyday life–I think about it every time I am impatiently standing in line and want results.”

Submitted by Cleo Levin, Slate audience engagement editor

Should a Tattoo Artist Tell You the Tattoo You’re Asking for Is a Terrible Idea? 
By Leon Neyfakh

“I’ve used it as an essay prompt for analysis of differences between Kantianism and libertarianism in my moral philosophy classes.”

Submitted by Matt Guthrie 

The Soft Bulletins
Could a one-hour video of someone whispering and brushing her hair change your life?
By Mark O’Connell

“This article was the first time I saw named and identified a sensation which I’ve been aware of my entire life.”


Submitted by scocca (NB: not former Slate political editor Tom Scocca, though his piece on onions always makes such lists)

In 1998, I helped convict two men of murder. I’ve regretted it ever since.
By Seth Stevenson

“Such a smart, thoughtful, personal story about being a ‘cog in the machine’ of the criminal justice system and why the decision haunted Seth for years.”

Submitted by Bill Carey, Slate’s director of strategy 

Culture Gabfest

“I love the dynamic between Dana, Steve, Julia, and the guests. I learn a lot about culture .. and also about relationships.”

Submitted by Sara Holm 

“Stephen, Julia, and Dana have been surrogate like-minded friends and voices of erudite sanity in a world gone mad.”


Submitted by carrickinteract 

Axes of Evil
What happens when a grown woman wears Axe fragrance for an entire week?
By Dahlia Lithwick


Submitted by Douglas Dinsmore

My Favorite Bookstore
By Jacob Weisberg

“For very personal reasons—when it was published I had just graduated from college and was uncertain about what career to pursue, but had been spending time in a used and rare bookstore and was just figuring out that high-end rare book seller was a job I wanted to pursue. I was thinking about applying for a master’s degree in London to study book history and then trying to find a job in a London shop, and suddenly seeing this piece in my favourite magazine really encouraged me to go through with it. ”


Submitted by Laura 

Consider the Oyster
Even strict vegans should feel comfortable eating oysters by the boatload.
By Christopher Cox

“​​Quietly one of the great pieces on the food culture wars.”

Submitted by Jeff Bloomer, Slate features editor

We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online
Nothing. It’s the only way to defend her against facial recognition, Facebook profiling, and corporate data mining.
By Amy Webb

“A well-written cautionary tale, way ahead of its time.”

Submitted by Leslie Hoffecker

The Worst Pop Singer Ever
Why, exactly, is Billy Joel so bad?
By Ron Rosenbaum

“I grew up on Long Island, and had to listen to that schmaltzy crap day after day. And in the ’70s, Billy Joel sucked. Validation, even decades later, is sweet.”


Submitted by John M. Kowalski

Motherhood Lost
By Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon

“I happened to experience nearly the same sequence of events at almost the same time, and I can still remember reading their work and crying and laughing, usually at my desk at work. I have read so, so many amazing things on Slate, but this is the series that I felt deeply and still feel. These days, Dahlia is still a must-read, and I am always happy to see her byline, even though a lot of what she has to write today is upsetting and scary. I appreciate her work so much. I appreciate Slate so much—my once and always favorite pinned tab!”

Submitted by Nicole Rosenleaf Ritter

Interviews 50 Cents 
A new (and classic) video series comes to Slate.
By Andy Bowers

“I miss ‘Interviews. 50 cents’ with Alex Chadwick. Always intriguing.”

Submitted by Jim Sullivan

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person
A manifesto.
By Allison Benedikt

“This is my most-referenced Slate piece of all time.”

Submitted by Torr Leonard