Christmas Carol illustration

How Charles Dickens Set the American Christmas Dinner Table

How did a religious celebration turn into a holiday that is all about home, family, and Christmas dinner? Turns out Charles Dickens has a lot to do with it.
Still Life

Thanksgiving Is a Feast of Things Forgotten

Thanksgiving is a feast so complex and semiotically dense that things are very often forgotten and rarely go according to plan.
Parrot

What the Folk? The Charming Yet Totally Malappropriate Story of Folk Etymology

Etymology is a funny thing. Even if you're not a word nerd, you might have wondered why so many English idioms we use are Just. So. Weird.
Egg Cream

The Egg Cream Mob

What's in an egg cream? No eggs. No cream. And a dose of mafia history.

Vacationing with Julia Child

Want to get away this summer? Come daydream with us to the kitchen of Julia Child, in the south of France...
A tray of pigs in a blanket.

Putting Words in Your Mouth: The Whimsical Language of Food

Many whimsically named regional foods focus instead on telling a story that often sounds neither delicious nor sophisticated. How do such odd names stick?
Raw kombu

Tasty! The Story of MSG

MSG, the Japanese flavor enhancer, has grown into an international sensation. But its history is also fraught with tension.
Speech Bubbles

When Actions Are Words

How certain speech acts perform actions and alter our social reality.
Let's Talk Turkey

Let’s Talk Turkey

First of all, why the name "turkey?"
hot dogs: americas cheap meat

Hot Dogs: America’s Fast, Cheap Meat

With all due respect to hamburgers and apple pie, hot dogs are arguably the most American of foods.