Nav: Home

The Bagelization of America from Gastropod

From Gastropod - 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, ring-shaped, surprisingly dense bread that makes the perfect platform for cream cheese and lox. Where did it come ...More → The post The Bagelization of America appeared first on Gastropod.


Gastropod
Gastropod looks at food through the lens of science and history. Co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode every two weeks.

The Bagelization of America
2019-03-26 01:12:18
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, ring-shaped, surprisingly dense bread that makes the perfect platform for cream cheese and lox. Where did it come ...More → The post The Bagelization of America appeared first on Gastropod.
Not Available


Moo-Dunnit: How Beef Replaced Bison on the American Plains–and Plate
2020-09-15 11:57:00
Saddle up, folks: Today's episode involves the cowboys' lullabies and meat riots that helped make beef an American birthright. With the help of Joshua Specht, author of Red Meat Republic, we tell the story of how and why the 30 million bison that roamed the Plains were replaced with 30 million cows. You'll never look at a Porterhouse steak–the first cut of beef invented in America–the same way again. See omnystudio.com/policies/listener for privacy information.


What the Shell? Cracking the Lobster's Mysteries
2020-08-31 14:49:00
Consider the lobster roll: tender chunks of lobster bathed in butter or mayo, sandwiched between two slices of a squishy bread roll... Have we caught your attention yet? Lobster is a summertime staple in New England, a fixture on casino and cruise ship buffets, and a steady partner for steak in the classic surf 'n' turf. Today, the American lobster industry is the single most valuable fishery in the country–but it wasn't always so. This episode, we're cracking the lobster's many mysteries, including how it went from prison fare to fancy food. There's also the question of what lobster eyes have to do with both the International Space Station and the belief in Intelligent Design, plus the rollicking tale of why it took scientists so long to locate the lobster penis–and what makes lobster sex so, well, steamy? Listen in now for the lobster lore you never knew you needed to know! See omnystudio.com/policies/listener for privacy information.


Guest Episode: Rocky Road with Science Diction
2020-08-25 08:16:00
This episode, Gastropod is bringing you a guest: Science Diction, a bite-sized podcast about words, and the science stories behind them. They answer questions like: what does the word "meme" have to do with evolutionary biology? And why do we call it the Spanish flu when it wasn't from Spain? Science Diction is doing a series on food words, and this episode is all about Rocky Road. Grab a spoon and enjoy! We'll be back in just one week with our regularly scheduled Gastropod episode.


Shatter-Proof: How Glass Took Over the Kitchen–and Ended Child Labor
2020-08-17 16:53:00
Cheers! The lively clink of glass on glass is a must for any festive gathering, whether you're sipping champagne in a flute or lemonade in a tumbler. We rely on glass in the kitchen–for baking perfectly browned pies, preserving jams and pickles, and so much more. But glass wasn't always so cheap and ubiquitous: to ancient Egyptians and Romans, this was precious stuff–it was high fashion to own a clear wine goblet in ancient Rome. Later, Venetians so prized their glass know-how that they imprisoned their glassmakers on an island. So how did glass go from fragile and precious tabletop ornament to an oven-ready kitchen workhorse? How did the inventions of a glassmaker in Toledo, Ohio, transform the peanut butter and ketchup industries, as well as put an end to child labor? And are we running out of sand to make glass?


The Most Dangerous Fruit in America
2020-08-03 11:54:00
It's the epitome of summertime: there's nothing like a cold, juicy slice of red watermelon on a swelteringly hot day. But, once upon a time, watermelons were neither red nor sweet–the wild watermelon has white flesh and a bitter taste. This episode, we scour Egyptian tombs, decaying DNA, and ancient literature in search of watermelon's origins. The quest for tasty watermelon continues into modern times, with the rediscovery of a lost (and legendarily sweet) varietal in South Carolina–and the Nigerian musical secret that might help you pick a ripe one. But the fruit's history has often been the opposite of sweet: watermelons have featured in some of the most ubiquitous anti-Black imagery in U.S. history. So how did the watermelon become the most dangerous–and racist–fruit in America?


Dig for Victory
2020-06-16 16:51:00
You've seen the news: vegetable seeds are selling out. All that quarantine ennui has combined with anxiety about the gaps on supermarket shelves to create a whole new population of city farmers in backyards and windowsills across America. And everyone from the Los Angeles Times to Forbes to CBS has dubbed these brand new beds of beets and broccoli "COVID-19 Victory Gardens." But what war is your pot of basil fighting? This episode, historian Anastasia Day helps us explore the history of urban gardening movements–and shatter some of the nostalgic myths about those original World War II-era Victory Gardens. One thing is true: in 1943, more than 43 percent of the fresh produce eaten by all Americans came from Victory Gardens. So, can a combination of vegetable patches, community gardens, and urban farms help feed cities today? Or is growing food in the city just a feel-good distraction from the bigger problems in our food system? And does the hype about high-tech vertical farms live up to environmental and economic reality? Listen in as farmers and activists Leah Penniman and Tepfirah Rushdan, food writer Tamar Haspel, and researchers Neil Mattson and Raychel Santo help us dig in to the science on urban agriculture, and harvest some answers–as well as a tomato or two.


Shared Plates: How Eating Together Makes Us Human
2020-06-02 20:36:05
We love eating dinner together with friends and extended family, and we miss it! But why does sharing a meal mean so much–and can we ever recreate that on Zoom? As we wait for the dinner parties, cookouts, and potlucks of our post-pandemic future, join us as we explore the science and history of communal dining. Scientist Ayelet Fishbach shares how and why eating together makes us better able to work together, and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar and archaeologist Brian Hayden demonstrate how it actually made us human–and led to everything from the common cow to the pyramids. Plus we join food writers Nichola Fletcher and Samin Nosrat for the largest in-person banquet of all time, with Parisian waiters on bicycles, as well as the world's biggest online lasagna party.


Pizza Pizza!
2020-05-19 11:40:00
At last, an episode on pizza! But that raises a tricky question: what exactly is pizza? As it turns out, the original pizzas from eighteenth-century Naples looked nothing like a standard slice–they were more like a focaccia, topped with oil, herbs, anchovies, or whatever else was on hand. Even after these first pizzas met the tomato, the dish was a local peculiarity–most Italians thought pizza was gross and weird until just a few decades ago. So how did we get from Neapolitan subsistence snack to today's delivery staple? Listen in this episode as we travel with historian Carol Helstosky, author of Pizza: A Global History, and Francisco Migoya, head chef at Modernist Cuisine, from Italy to New York to Brazil and beyond, to tell the story of how pizza conquered the world. All that, plus the tough questions: is Chicago deep dish really pizza? How about bananas on top? What about (gasp) a donut pizza?


Eating the Wild: Bushmeat, Game, and the Fuzzy Line Between Them
2020-05-05 14:10:56
It's a safe bet that your recent media diet has included the words "wet market," "zoonotic disease," and "pangolin," as experts take a pause from discussing COVID-19's spread and impact to speculate on the virus's origins. This episode, we're digging into the larger story behind those words, that of our relationship to eating wild animals: how and why have our attitudes to wild meat shifted over time? Why is it that deer shot by a hunter in the U.S. is game, but monkey caught in the Democratic Republic of Congo is bushmeat? With the help of Gina Rae La Cerva, author of the new book, Feasting Wild, we explore what we gain and lose by eating wild, from the lost primeval forests of Europe to Robin Hood, and from smoked monkey to bird spit.


Eating the Rainbow: Or, the Mystery of the Orange Oranges, the Red M&Ms, and the Blue Raspberry
2020-04-21 15:40:39
From stripy fuchsia beets to unicorn doughnuts, the foods available today on grocery store shelves and in cafe displays are more brightly colored than ever. But this hasn't always been the case. This episode of Gastropod, we offer three stories that explore the colors of our cuisine: How did a food fight between Florida and California turn oranges (the fruit) that perfect bright orange (the color)? Why did US consumers freak out about the food dye Red #2, and what was the impact on our M&Ms? And finally, who invented the blue raspberry? All that, plus one very sexy indigo-hued blossom.


A Tale To Warm The Cockles Of Your Heart
2020-04-07 13:43:00
You might have heard of Molly Malone, selling cockles from a wheelbarrow in Dublin, or of Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, with her cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row–but the chances are most Gastropod listeners have never actually tasted a cockle. And, apparently, you're missing out! For the Native American tribes in the Puget Sound, where cockles used to be abundant, they're a treasured treat: meatier, sweeter, and richer-tasting than other shellfish. But they're also disappearing, and no one knows why–or how to save them. This episode, we join the team of intrepid marine biologists and tribal leaders on a mission to restore the cockle, on a journey that involves cockle viagra, a cockle vampire, and some carefully choreographed simultaneous spawning. Listen in now for a story of shellfish science and cultural history that will warm the cockles of your heart–and perhaps inspire the revival of other indigenous foods.


White vs. Wheat: The Food Fight of the Centuries
2020-03-24 14:36:08
White or whole wheat: while today the question is most frequently asked at the sandwich counter, the debate over the correct answer goes back literally thousands of years. In the past century, though, as white flour and thus white bread became more accessible, the debate became increasingly heated: "Science finds that white bread develops criminals," reported newspapers in the 1920s, while anti-white bread activists at the time claimed that eating too many slices would causing blindness and facial deformity. But whole-wheat bashers had their retorts ready: "Whiteness and purity go hand in hand," proclaimed health writer Dr. Woods Hutchinson. "The whitest possible of white bread" is "not only much more appetizing, but ... more nutritious and more wholesome than any black, brown or brindled staff of life." White vs. wholewheat: this episode, we dive into the world's longest-running, highest-stakes food fight. Along the way: the invention of sliced bread, the science behind Wonder Bread's curious bounce, and a light dusting of eugenics. Listen in now as Aaron Bobrow-Strain, author of White Bread: A Social History of the Store-bought Loaf, unpacks the anxieties and values underlying the bread wars, while wheat breeder Steve Jones introduces us to the "approachable" loaf that he hopes will win the battle for once and for all.


Licorice: A Dark and Salty Stranger
2020-03-10 11:58:00
Licorice is a polarizing candy: there are those who pick out the black jelly beans, those who think Twizzlers are better than Red Vines, and those who won't travel without a supply of salty dark lozenges. The dark and chewy treat begins life as a plant root that is more than fifty times as sweet as sugar. This episode, we tell the story of how a traditional remedy become England's first branded candy, and we get to the bottom of a medical mystery (licorice poisoning!) in a tale that involves both Tutankhamun and Henry VIII. 


To Fight Climate Change, Bank on Soil
2020-02-25 15:49:00
Our glaciers are melting, our forests are on fire, our harvests are increasingly decimated by either floods and drought. We are in a climate emergency that threatens our very survival, and it is, frankly, incredibly depressing. But this episode, we've got the story of one of the most exciting, seemingly feasible efforts to reduce atmospheric ...More → The post To Fight Climate Change, Bank on Soil appeared first on Gastropod.


Move Over Gin, We've Got Tonic Fever
2020-02-10 21:45:28
Just a few decades ago, gin & tonics were considered rather stodgy and boring, the drink of suburbanites at the golf club. Today, the century-old drink is hot again. In part, that's due to a boom in craft gin distilling–a ginaissance! But there's also been a new wave of experimentation with gin's life partner, tonic ...More → The post Move Over Gin, We've Got Tonic Fever appeared first on Gastropod.


The United States of McDonald's
2020-01-27 17:00:10
McDonald's is mind-boggling. According to Adam Chandler, author of the recent book, Drive-Thru Dreams, it sells roughly 75 burgers every second and serves 68 million people every day–equivalent to 1 percent of the entire world's population. "The golden arches are thought to be, according to an independent survey, more recognizable as a symbol than the ...More → The post The United States of McDonald's appeared first on Gastropod.


Dinner Plate Invasion: Lionfish, Tiger Shrimp, and Feral Pigs, Oh My!
2020-01-13 11:21:43
Across America, feral pigs are on the rampage, wrecking fields of crops, hunting local wildlife to extinction, and even attacking humans. In the United Kingdom, Japanese knotweed is taking over the landscape: banks deny mortgages to infested properties, and the government regulates its disposal with the same precautions it takes for low-level nuclear waste. Humans ...More → The post Dinner Plate Invasion: Lionfish, Tiger Shrimp, and Feral Pigs, Oh My! appeared first on Gastropod.


Meet the Queen of Kiwi: the 96-Year-Old Woman Who Transformed America's Produce Aisle
2019-12-17 06:39:57
The produce section of most American supermarkets in the 1950s was minimal to a fault, with only a few dozen fruits and vegetables to choose from: perhaps one kind of apple, one kind of lettuce, a yellow onion, a pile of bananas. Today, grocery stores routinely offer hundreds of different fruits and vegetables, many of ...More → The post Meet the Queen of Kiwi: the 96-Year-Old Woman Who Transformed America's Produce Aisle appeared first on Gastropod.


Meet the Queen of Kiwi: The 96-Year-Old Woman Who Transformed America's Produce Aisle
2019-12-17 06:39:57
The produce section of most American supermarkets in the 1950s was minimal to a fault, with only a few dozen fruits and vegetables to choose from: perhaps one kind of apple, one kind of lettuce, a yellow onion, a pile of bananas. Today, grocery stores routinely offer hundreds of different fruits and vegetables, many of ...More → The post Meet the Queen of Kiwi: The 96-Year-Old Woman Who Transformed America's Produce Aisle appeared first on Gastropod.


Are Insect Guts the Secret to the Most Delicious Kimchi?
2019-12-03 13:05:59
This side dish of spicy, bubbly, funky pickled vegetables is such a staple in Korea that no meal is considered complete without it–but, recently, kimchi has found its way into burgers, pasta, grilled cheese, and even tacos. This episode, we trace the behind-the-scenes story of the "kimchi diplomacy" that turned Korea's favorite fermented cabbage into ...More → The post Are Insect Guts the Secret to the Most Delicious Kimchi? appeared first on Gastropod.


Menu Mind Control
2019-11-18 15:21:41
At its most basic, a menu is simply a way for a restaurant to communicate its offerings and their prices to its customers. But, perhaps even more importantly, says Alison Pearlman, author of a new book on menus called May We Suggest, a menu has to persuade diners that they want what the restaurant is ...More → The post Menu Mind Control appeared first on Gastropod.


Of Ghost Foods and Culinary Extinction
2019-11-04 17:31:09
The earliest humans favored juicy, meaty mammoth at mealtimes. Ancient Romans loved their favorite herb, silphium, so much that they sprinkled it on everything from lamb to melon. In the 19th century United States, passenger pigeon pie was a cherished comfort food, long before chicken pot pie became commonplace. And, for dessert, Americans a century ...More → The post Of Ghost Foods and Culinary Extinction appeared first on Gastropod.


Tiki Time!
2019-10-22 06:22:34
Tiki bars are hot these days: you can enjoy a fruity tropical drink while surrounded by faux-Polynesian décor in most major cities around the U.S. and elsewhere, with new tiki spots opening every month. The trend is a revival of a nearly century-old American tradition–but the knowledge of how to make these classic tiki cocktails ...More → The post Tiki Time! appeared first on Gastropod.


What's CRISPR Doing in our Food?
2019-10-07 19:12:02
You've probably heard the hype: CRISPR will revolutionize biotech, cure disease, resurrect extinct species, and even create new-and-(not-so)-improved humans. But what is CRISPR–and what's it doing in our food? The first generation of genetically modified crops, or GMOs, were labelled "Frankenfoods" by critics and are banned in the European Union. Can CRISPR succeed where fish-tomatoes ...More → The post What's CRISPR Doing in our Food? appeared first on Gastropod.


Happy Birthday to Us: Gastropod Turns Five
2019-09-24 11:40:20
We launched Gastropod in September 2014, which means we're turning five this month, and that's approximately 100 in podcast years. We're celebrating our birthday with a special episode featuring highlights from the past five years' worth of episodes, as chosen by you, our listeners–served up alongside a generous slice of cake science and history. Join ...More → The post Happy Birthday to Us: Gastropod Turns Five appeared first on Gastropod.


Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.