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Ice cream history, nostalgic sickness, extreme prank calls, owls nightlife, Sam Sanders, banning puns, cute Canadian towns.
I’m not accepting that summer is over and judging by the heat wave this week, neither is Ontario. And even if it hadn’t been sweltering hot on the weekend, I still might’ve gone for ice cream because an episode I listened to brought me a new found respect for its history. Keep reading to learn about how ice cream is the original ‘is it cake?’.
How often do you find yourself directly influenced by a podcast? Whether it’s to buy something, eat something, watch something, read something, or even try a new activity – podcasts have a powerful pull. I think some would attribute that to the closeness you might feel to the hosts. When you feel like you know them and relate to them, you might be easily inspired by their actions or recommendations. But I also think the influence of podcasts can be less strictly attributed to only the hosts. I think it’s the same way that watching a documentary can inspire you to want to learn more about a sport. Or listening to a podcast about wild chocolate can make you want some chocolate. When things are communicated in interesting ways, people get interested!
This week’s podstack
If you thought the “is it cake?” trend was just a silly gimmick of the TikTok era, think again. Ice cream did it first, as long ago as George Washington’s presidency when people were served a dish that looked like asparagus, but was actually ice cream. Every time I thought I knew which wild ice cream fact I’d want to mention here, another one popped up. I never expected ice cream to play such a big role in the prohibition, be an essential item of the military, or be considered a luxurious treat. I know I talk about a lot of cool food stories, but this is one of my favourite history lessons in a while. I have so much more respect for ice cream and immediately went to get some. You’ll love the mix of interviews, historical facts, and playful scripting.
It honestly doesn’t surprise me that when nostalgia was first acknowledged, it was actually considered a disease and people were getting pretty sick from it. That sounds so negative but what I mean is it’s just that powerful! This episode opens with people talking about songs that have a powerful nostalgic effect on them and I couldn’t relate more. Those nostalgic feelings from sounds, smells, tastes, and objects are so strong for me and I’ve been wanting to better understand nostalgia. From the early nostalgic sicknesses and disregard of enslaved people’s experiences, to the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the marketability of nostalgia, this episode covers it all. I’m so glad this episode exists and explores this phenomenon with such style, science, and heart! (transcript)
What’s the most scandalous prank phone call you’ve ever done? Did it involve calling up the press and convincing journalists that you’d heard something about someone so that they’d go try to make a story out of it? If so, then you and Kieran Morris have that in common! He got so into pulling pranks like this that he eventually out did himself when he increasingly raised the profile of a Honduran soccer player to the point that he was signed by a team in the U.S.. When that contract didn’t work out for the player, Kieran was riddled with guilt that he might’ve ruined this man’s career. His journey to determine what impact he might have had on the player and that Houston team is a fun and fascinating one. By mixing in interviews with lots of people who had some connection to the story, you get a really well rounded story. Kieran’s own narrative and emotions keep it engaging and there’s a pretty great pay off in the end. I also listened to part one of Spider’s episode and got just as hooked learning about the personal drama that went along with the professional changes in the world of pro skiing. If you enjoyed Good Sport, you’ll enjoy this.
I regret not listening to this in a more nature-filled setting, but it’ll transport you there either way. To take you into the sights and sounds of an owl, you get this rich soundscape of critters in the night, trees and foliage moving, and soft owl calls. It feels like part meditation and part ASMR with the calmness and softness of the narration mixed with the soothing pace of the description. Maybe falling asleep to this would be very peaceful, but then you’d miss out on all the beautiful attention to detail they’ve put into helping you experience the evening of an owl. If you can, listen to this one with noise cancelling headphones to get truly immersed. They also have a soundscape only version of the episode if you want to really get lost in the sounds.
Sam Sanders is easily one of my favourite voices in podcasting and in society/culture news coverage. He’s an expert in making stories from across industries and communities feel human, understandable, and entertaining. His interview with Sam Fragoso is a perfect look into what it was like for him to find his voice, something he put a lot of intentionality into. As a kid with a stutter, he kept putting himself into positions where he would be forced to use his voice and that was his way of working with it and overcoming it. I think that alone tells you a lot about the kind of determined and focused person Sam is. It’s also such a treat hearing all the background research that Sam Fragoso had prepared for this interview because it helps us as listeners get such a well-rounded picture of who Sam was and is. And Sam also got to really enjoy himself! Interviewing someone who interviews others for a living can be hard, but Sam was so impressed by this one!
I started listening to this quiz episode featuring Helen’s brother first, but in her intro she mentioned that he appeared on the very first episode of the show, which was all about puns. So naturally, I had to go listen to that! Like Helen says in the episode, it’s almost as if Dads have some kind of switch that gets flipped when they become Dads and their pun usage multiplies exponentially. I’m pretty sure it happened to my Dad. So what’s the history of puns? Why did China want to start banning them? This is such a fun and punny exploration of this clever kind of word play.
Nelson, British Columbia sounds like a precious, magical, little town. At least, it was when iconic Canadian storyteller Stuart McLean visited. He describes how the main street is lined with independent businesses, making it possibly the only town in Canada with over 10,000 people and no Tim Horton’s in sight. With its used bookstore filled of books that residents donate, it feels like a place right out of a Hallmark movie. Knowing these little quirks is part of what made Stuart such a beloved storyteller. He would tour the country, performing stories with his trademark comedic style and cadence, but the key was getting to each town a few days early and learning what stories could be found there. On this show, his longtime producer Jess Milton revisits moments, performances, and bloopers from the many years working with Stuart. This episode collects a couple of his ‘postcards of Canada’ and gives you delightful little glimpses of unique people and places he went to. I also have to note that this recommendation marks a special, full circle moment, because after introducing my Dad to this show (he was a longtime listener of Stuart’s CDs), it was my parents who made me want to listen to this episode. The way they described the stories made me want to listen! How the turn tables.
More sweet treats
I looooved learning about what it’s like to be the researcher for one of my favourite movie podcasts.
Speaking of movies, this will inspire you to listen to some film scores while you work.
The Tink team and I took over Lauren’s newsletter to fill up your queue even more!
Thank you for reading! If you listened to something this week that made your heart sing, your imagination wander, or your brain ponder, I’d love to hear about it!