Slate Fare

There’s a New Season of Decoder Ring

Slate’s podcast about cracking cultural mysteries is back for a spring season.

The words "Decoder Ring" against a background of pink, clementine, white, and blue squares.
Illustration by Slate. 

In each episode of Decoder Ring, 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. The result is, as New York Magazine put it, “a pop-culture podcast that comes with the same level of research, investigation, and sincerity as any investigative journalism podcast.”

The new season features juicy new questions with some surprising answers. It launches Tuesday with an episode about how razors ended up having such a ridiculous number of blades. You can listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Here’s a preview of what else is coming this season.


“F––k Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades”: The history of Gillette and how, over the course of a century, it went from making a single bladed razor to making one with five blades, exposing the weirdness of late capitalism in the process.


The Method: Isaac Butler, the author of The Method: How the 20th Century Learned to Act, takes us through the development of this omnipresent and widely misunderstood term to help us understand what “the method” actually is.

The Sideways Effect: How one throwaway line in the movie Sideways denigrating Merlot altered the wine industry and American palettes.

“Convoy”: Country music star C.W. McCall had a surprise No. 1 hit in 1976 with “Convoy,” a song about a group of long-haul truck drivers banding together to fight against “The Man.” Sound familiar?

Storytellers: What are people really trying to say when the tell you they are a storyteller? An episode in which we trace how “storyteller” became a business term and stories themselves became advertisements.

Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode, and join Slate Plus to get ad-free listening. Members also get a bonus episode going behind the scenes of the show.