The quiet disappearance of the safe deposit box

In the opening sequence of The Bourne Identity, a young Matt Damon wakes up with no idea who he is. All he has is...
Michael Waters • December 2, 2022

Can you get sued for using a meme?

You’ve likely seen Success Kid. The image depicts a toddler smugly clenching his fist on a beach. In meme form, it’s typically overlaid with a...
Zachary Crockett • November 19, 2022

How America’s top real estate agent sells 16 homes every day

Try to picture the top-selling real estate agent in the world.  Are you thinking of a New Yorker in a skyscraper who has befriended a...
Mark Dent • November 11, 2022

The fight to build more public bathrooms in America

One spring evening in 2005, Carol McCreary filed into a meeting of her neighborhood association in Portland, Oregon. The group was setting its agenda...
Michael Waters • November 4, 2022

The strange business history of the Ouija board

On a recent weekend in Salem, Massachusetts, I wandered into the Salem Witch Board Museum. The site of America’s infamous witch trials in 1692, Salem is...
Juliet Bennett Rylah • October 28, 2022

How nuns got squeezed out of the communion wafer business

Sister Ruth Starman opens the door to a red brick building on the sprawling 500-acre campus of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She...
Mark Dent • October 14, 2022

The economics of Costco rotisserie chicken

Chicken holds a special place in the carnivore’s heart. This year, the average American will scarf down 99 lbs. of chicken, handily outranking our consumption...
Zachary Crockett • October 8, 2022

The banker who caused the 1929 stock crash 

Around noon on one of the worst days in the history of Wall Street, Charles E. Mitchell hurried up the steps of the House...
Mark Dent • September 30, 2022

How one of America’s last piano manufacturers stays alive

Inside an old brick building in the leafy town of Haverhill, Massachusetts, you’ll find one of the last vestiges of a once-formidable industry. Entering the...
Zachary Crockett • September 24, 2022

The family that built a ballpark nachos monopoly

At a Texas Rangers baseball game, the voice of a concession stand employee cuts through the din of the upper deck concourse.  “Another ballpark nacho,”...
Mark Dent • September 16, 2022

The small town that saved its only grocery store — by buying it

In the final days of May 2020, residents of Erie, Kansas, received a letter in the mail from their city government. The self-addressed envelope...
Michael Waters • September 10, 2022

What happens when your brand is co-opted by extremists?

The Pit Viper headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a shrine to carefree, bro-tastic vibes. Inside the offices of the ’90s-themed sunglasses company, the...
Selina Lee • August 26, 2022

The architect who became the king of bank robberies

The period between 1850 and 1920 was full of colorful ne’er-do-wells. Career criminals like Jesse James, John Dillinger, and Butch Cassidy gained infamy for their...
Zachary Crockett • August 19, 2022

Why gas is actually cheap in America 

This summer at the local gas station in Tabor, Iowa, Stacey Rycroft and her husband reached an undesirable milestone: $100 to fill the tank...
Mark Dent • August 13, 2022

Why is rent skyrocketing?

Back in May, Jennifer Davis received a written notice from her landlord: In 30 days, her rent would go from $1.4k to $1.8k —...
Zachary Crockett • August 6, 2022

The people making millions off Listerine royalties

For the 26 years that Catherine Schweitzer has worked at the Baird Foundation, a nonprofit based in Buffalo, New York, her organization has relied...
Michael Waters • July 28, 2022

Why expensive housing prices aren’t good for most real estate agents 

As real estate agent Takarah Culp missed on home after home last summer, she started to wonder if she was doing something wrong.  Culp obtained...
Mark Dent • July 22, 2022

America’s favorite family outings are increasingly out of reach

Earlier this summer, Steven Martinez made a promise to his two young kids: He’d finally take them to Disneyland, the “happiest place on Earth.” But...
Zachary Crockett • July 16, 2022

The $500m smiley face business

The Smiley Company office in London, England, is a wonder to behold. Smiley paintings line the walls. Smiley push pillows adorn the couches. There are...
Zachary Crockett • July 8, 2022

Can a corporation "own" a color?

  On a summer day in 2019, Daniel Schreiber opened his mailbox to find a threatening letter from one of the world’s largest telecom companies. In...
Zachary Crockett • June 25, 2022

‘Just stop buying lattes’: The origins of a millennial housing myth

Consider the 21st century’s most ubiquitous piece of financial advice: “Can’t afford a house? Just stop buying lattes.” Every millennial has heard some kind of...
Mark Dent • June 18, 2022

A chat with Ray Dalio

NOTE: This is an edited transcript of our full podcast interview with Ray Dalio. If you prefer audio, you can listen to it in...
Zachary Crockett • June 10, 2022

The lucrative economics of expert witnesses

In the waning days of the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, Dr. Shannon Curry was called to the stand. Curry, a California-based...
Zachary Crockett • June 4, 2022

Why America has so few carpenters

When Desmond Collins was in his 20s, he cycled between low-paying jobs at places like McDonald’s and Taco Bell, grasping for any opportunity, he...
Mark Dent • May 20, 2022

Why a small candy company is Warren Buffett’s ‘dream’ investment

If investing were a video game, you might suspect Warren Buffett of using some kind of cheat code. His holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, boasts $969B...
Zachary Crockett • May 13, 2022

Why free stuff makes us irrational

If you’ve ever wondered just how passionate people are about free samples at Costco, look no further than these 2 incidents: 2015: At a Southern...
Mark Dent • May 6, 2022

The strange business of hole-in-one insurance

On a warm day in September 2009, Jason Hargett, a 35-year-old restaurant manager and father of 4, stepped up to the tee at Red...
Zachary Crockett • April 29, 2022

The surprising afterlife of used hotel soap

One of the first things many of us do when we settle into a hotel room is reach for the packaged bar of soap...
Zachary Crockett • April 22, 2022

The first ‘Easter eggs’ were an act of corporate rebellion

In August 1980, Atari’s consumer relations division received a handwritten letter from a 15-year-old boy whose enthusiasm practically leaped off the page.  “I’M SO …
Mark Dent • April 15, 2022

Why most gas stations don’t make money from selling gas

Last month, gas prices hit a new national average record of $4.33/gallon, up nearly $1.50 from just a year ago. The price of gas is...
Zachary Crockett • April 15, 2022

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