36 minutes | Jul 26, 2023

A Brief History of Making Out

Kissing—the romantic, sexual, steamy kind—is so ingrained in us that it just seems like a fact of life. Like breathing or eating, we just do it. But what if it’s not like that at all? 

In this episode, we’re going to look at passionate kissing, well, dispassionately, not as something instinctual and innate but as a cultural practice. We’re going to backtrack through history in search of the origins of the kiss, with some surprises along the way. 

This episode was written by Willa Paskin, who produces Decoder Ring with Katie Shepherd. This episode was edited by Andrea Bruce and Joel Meyer. Derek John is Slate’s executive producer of narrative podcasts. Merritt Jacob is our senior technical director.

Thank you to Marcel Danesi.

If you’re interested in the papers we mentioned, you can read about Justin Garcia and William Jankowiak’s research, Troels Pank Arbøll and Sophie Lund Rasmussen’s essay, Sabrina Imbler’s When Was the First Sexy Kiss? and the herpes study.

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