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The Story Behind ... | The Extraordinary History of the Ordinary

History Podcasts


Preview: Lost at the Smithsonian with Aasif Mandvi

Hey there from Hiatus-land! Enjoy this bonus episode drop. Normally, I don't use pid advertising in The Story Behind, but when I talked to the folks over at Stitcher about this new project, I was so excited and knew my audience would love this podcast. Check out Lost at the Smithsonian, a new podcast from Stitcher! Comedian and pop culture fanatic Aasif Mandvi gets up close and personal with the most iconic artifacts at the National Museum of American History. Join Aasif and his guests...


Cotton Swabs

Every time I use the subject of today’s episode, my husband is quick to point out how I shouldn’t. He loves to tell me about all the injuries this common household item causes, and as much as a lot of what I do depends on my hearing, I can’t help but continue to use it now and again. And I’m sure you do too. You’re listening to The Story Behind: The Extraordinary History of the Ordinary. I’m your host, Emily Prokop, and this is The Story Behind Cotton Swabs. Let's get social! The Story...



From starting out as eye protection against snow blindness to helping pilots navigate the skies without being blinded by the sun, the subject of today’s episode not only protects your eyes but has also been a staple of fashion for centuries, as it turns out. You’re listening to The Story Behind: The Extraordinary History of the Ordinary. I’m your host, Emily Prokop, and this is The Story Behind Sunglasses. Let's get social! The Story Behind Discussion...



Ever hear of Shiny Object Syndrome? Usually, it’s said to refer to those who see something new and have to have it, only to get bored with it once they finally attain it. But in this episode, I wanted to know just what it is about literal shiny objects that make them so appealing to humans. And this particular shiny object is no different unless you have to clean up the mess it makes. You’re listening to The Story Behind: The Extraordinary History of the Ordinary. I’m your host, Emily...



One of the most fascinating things about today’s episode is not just the creation of this everyday object, but the marketing tactic of presenting a problem that many people weren’t concerned with until the solution was advertised. You’re listening to The Story Behind: The Extraordinary History of the Ordinary. I’m your host, Emily Prokop, and this is The Story Behind Mouthwash. Vote for The Story Behind for the Webby Awards! CLICK HERE to vote! Let's get social! The Story Behind...


Son of a Gun - Operation Switcharoo

Happy April Fool’s Day. This year, I was part of a number of other podcasts that wanted to do some cross-promotion, so if you’re looking for The Story Behind April Fool’s Day, I invite you to check out the Forgotten News Podcast. I should put a disclaimer on this episode that it may not be suitable for younger or sensitive audiences since procreation and the anatomical names for body parts are mentioned. And remember, take everything you read and hear today with a grain of salt. Enjoy...



This special episode is a preview to a new series I am premiering over on for Executive Producers at the $5 per month level called MUSE. The series follows Pattie Boyd. And, if you don’t know her name now, you’ve probably heard a few songs she is said to have inspired, like "Something" by The Beatles, "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton, and most famously, "Layla" by Eric Clapton when he was part of Derek & the Dominos. Oh, and did I mention that "Layla" was...


Conversation Hearts

One of my favorite holidays just passed. February 15th. Yup, you heard me right. February 15th, not the 14th. Oh, I love Valentine’s Day, but I’m more in love with the discounted candy the day after, including a candy that apparently I’m in the minority when it comes to liking. But this year, they were harder to come by, despite being the most popular Valentine’s Day candy. The history of any modern-day candy, actually, can be attributed to these, as well. You’re listening to The Story...


The Trampoline

One of my favorite things to learn about when researching episodes is how people marketed inventions that had never been on the market before. In The Story Behind Post-its, we talked about how 3M’s style of marketing was to show what the product could do, rather than just showing the product. In The Story Behind Dr Pepper, John W. Davis made it a point to tell six people every day his version of the beverage’s origin story. And, probably in the running for most audacious marketing of an...


Groundhog Day

Okay, campers, rise and shine and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cold out there today! No, you’re not stuck in a loop, unless you’ve already listened to this episode before. But today’s episode is all about a seemingly silly holiday that has a fascinating history behind it and a 1993 movie that probably helped it become most likely permanently attached to Bill Murray. You’re listening to The Story Behind: The Extraordinary History of the Ordinary. I’m your host, Emily Prokop, and...



Even though the topic of today’s episode isn’t necessarily exercise-related, it would be safe to say it gave me a bit of a workout this past week. Imagine paying $12 for something, then you find yourself struggling to put it on, only to have it rip. Now, because I didn’t have time to go to the store for another pair, I put some clear nail polish on the rip and hoped they would hold out for the next few hours until I could take them off and throw them away. Women, you probably know what...


Bottled Water

Remember the Left Shark from the Super Bowl a few years ago? He was supposed to be just a guy in a shark costume dancing next to Katy Perry during the halftime show. But because he decided to do his own thing, he became the center of attention. Every so often, another Left Shark will come along in the background of an event only to steal the show. The most recent of these was the Fiji Water girl during the Golden Globes red carpet, who has been given the title 2019’s first meme after...


Toilet Paper

One of my favorite compliments I get about The Story Behind book is that people love reading it in the bathroom. At first, people seem embarrassed to tell me this, but in the introductory chapter of the book, I put a PS at the end that says, “I won’t be offended if you read it in the bathroom.. So, in case you want to bring the book into the bathroom or you just want something to think about for those awkward moments you find yourself in a stall without any reading material, this episode...


Re-Release of The Story Behind Christmas Traditions (Part 1)

Hey there! Hope everyone is enjoying this weird week between Christmas and New Years! When I released the last episode, The Story Behind Christmas Traditions, Part 2, I had some questions about the first part. I released that one way back in 2016, but since I’ve gotten more listeners since then, I thought it would be fun to re-release it. Even though it’s no longer Christmas, why not enjoy saying goodbye to Christmas 2018 with The Story Behind. Enjoy! There are lots of fun things in...


Christmas Traditions (Part 2)

As I’m recording this, I have my holiday candle burning, my kids hopped up on Christmas cookie sugar, and I’m struggling to find a way to hide Christmas presents from my husband before being able to wrap them. If you’re listening to this way later, and you haven’t already looked at the title of this episode, get ready for a throwback to what kids and retailers call The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. When I first started this podcast back in 2016, I did an episode like this and I liked...



I love my job as a podcast editor. I get to listen to podcasts every day and get paid for it, and my clients are absolutely wonderful, as many podcasters often are. One of my clients, Catherine, is the producer for Solo Travel Talk with Astrid Clements of Every episode I listen to, I find out about travel destinations that all end up going on my bucket list. But when I edited a particular episode, answering questions about today’s topic as it pertains to different parts...



When I was in Washington, DC, a few weeks ago, I stopped at the International Spy Museum before leaving. I could have stayed in there for hours, and it was incredible to see these gadgets and spy equipment that we normally only see in movies. But a set of pictures intrigued me. They were of both Union and Confederate soldiers using the topic of today’s episode to spy on one another. Not only would they use this to observe the enemy, but they were also able to learn the terrain of the...


Cranberry Sauce | From Controversy to Canned Creation (TSB132)

This past year has been one of the busiest I’ve ever had. I could never have imagined two years ago that starting this podcast would have brought me the most amazing listeners in the world or that they would go from listeners to the best book launch team I could have imagined. Since we’re celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States this week, I wanted to take a moment to tell you how thankful I am for everything you’ve done for me and this podcast. From sharing the show with your friends...


Sick Sayings | Bless You, Frog In Your Throat, Sick as a Dog (TSB131)

Sorry for the delayed episode this week! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have seen that I went to DC Podfest. And the first day I was there, I woke up with the beginnings of a cold. Luckily, I was able to get a hold of a bottle of Zicam fairly quickly and stave off the cold for a few days … until I got home. And then, it hit. This week has been a bit of a fever dream for me, but it made me start to wonder about some of the things we say when we’re sick and the origins, so...


Boston Baked Beans | Traditional New England Fare (TSB130)

If you follow @StoryBehindPod on Instagram, you may have seen that I went to Boston last weekend for the Sound Education conference at Harvard University to be on a panel with other history podcasters that included Liz Covart from Ben Franklin’s World, Patrick Wyman from Tides of History, and David Stenhouse from BackStory. I respect these podcasters greatly and it was such an honor to be in the same room as them. Because my travel schedule is pretty hectic this month, I only stayed in...