The gender reveal party is a recent phenomenon, originating in 2008 as a backyard barbeque at Jenna Karvunidis’ house, where she and a small group of friends and family learned she was having a baby girl. From those humble origins, the gender reveal party has metastasized into a global phenomenon, featuring countless blue and pink cakes, explosions, lasagnas, skydiving adventures, and even a hippo-assisted watermelon reveal. These parties have become notorious for their perceived tastelessness, gender essentialism, and the real destruction they’ve left in their wake; including a massive forest fire and a recent death. On this episode of Decoder Ring, we talk to the originator of the gender reveal party—as well as scientists, critics, and others—to try and find out how they blew up (literally and metaphorically), and why they are having such a moment right now.
Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every month, host Willa Paskin takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters.
This episode was written by Willa Paskin and edited and produced by Benjamin Frisch.