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The quest for a perfect smile
Sep 15, 2023
Episode 1005

The quest for a perfect smile

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Plus, some thoughts on socks with sandals.

Celebrities are starting to have eerily similar smiles — flawlessly straight and pearly white teeth. But what’s the cost behind those perfect smiles? We’ll talk about yet another unrealistic beauty standard and the rise of the cosmetic dentistry industry. And the Roman Empire might be a thing of the past, but it seems that many men are still fascinated by it. We’ll get into some reasons why the ancient world power is engrained in our minds. Then, we’ll play a round of Half Full/Half Empty to settle some fashion debates.

Here’s everything we talked about:

If you’re a fan of our livestreams, we think you’ll enjoy Marketplace’s new video series, “Burning Questions,” from the team behind “How We Survive.” If you’ve been curious about solutions to the climate crisis, give it a watch!

Make Me Smart September 15, 2023 Transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal 

That was a long 10 seconds.

Kimberly Adams 

Just enough time to pour a drink.

Kai Ryssdal 

Hey everybody. I’m Kai Ryssdal, welcome back to Make Me Smart where we make today make sense. Today is 15 September, Friday.

Kimberly Adams 

Friday. Yay. I’m Kimberly Adams. And it is very good to be here with you all. We made it. I feel like it’s worth celebrating every week. But it’s good to be here with you everyone in our listening audience, our YouTube audience for our Friday happy hour or economics on tap as we like to call it over here.

Kai Ryssdal 

We will as we usually do do a little bit of news take a little break and then Drew is here for a round of half full half empty and we will of course as we do before the news every Friday do a little drinks I’m I’m having water I got stuff to do tonight. Kai PA glass. You know what’s irritating about these Kai PA glasses. All that frosting stuff is wearing off so it’s anyway whatever.

Kimberly Adams 

Now is that a manufacturing defect or just heavy use?

Kai Ryssdal 

No. I think it’s heavy. It’s heavy rotation. My wife she doesn’t listen to this podcast. I can certainly feel free to say this. She likes to have a glass of water nearby all at all times. Which is great. She’s she’s very well hydrated.

Kimberly Adams

That’s a very healthy thing. That’s a very healthy thing.

Kai Ryssdal

Yes. Except we have half drunk glasses of water literally in every room in the house.

Kimberly Adams 

That’s so funny. I like moved to different half drunk glasses of water off of my desk to make space for my cocktail accoutrement over here.

Kai Ryssdal 

And then every now and then I go on a binge and I pick them all up and then every now and then I’m like, no, she can clean them up herself. And that’s just it’s married life. What can I tell you people? What can I tell you?

Kimberly Adams 

Yes, I’m fascinated already in the chat that Pat Walsh says it’s paw paw margarita season again in Cincinnati. And also for you Kai at the grocery store today they saw pumpkin spice Cheerios and pumpkin spice hand soap.

Kai Ryssdal 

Nice knowing you Pat, please don’t come back to the podcast anymore. Sorry. I’m kidding, I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

Kimberly Adams 

But paw paw margarita. I’m excited. I’m interested in that I do have still have some paw paw liquor that I got last year. I feel like that plus tequila is a magical combination that I can I can get down with.

Kai Ryssdal 

Perhaps next week.

Kai Ryssdal

I’m just saying.

Kimberly Adams 

Perhaps next week. Now you’re drinking water. So I’m drinking, what do you call them? My kitchen cocktails, where I just sort of see whatever I have around and in this case, it was St. Germain spiced rum and pomegranate juice and I’m trying I was looking for something pretty for a garnish. And the only thing looking pretty in my garden after all this heat is my balm. So I put balm.

Kai Ryssdal

I’m sorry your what?
Kimberly Adams

Balm. B-A-L-M.

Kai Ryssdal

Which is what?

Kimberly Adams

It’s a herb. It’s a type of herb. And there’s lots of different types of balm. This one I think is called Moldavian and Dragonhead balm or something like that.
Kai Ryssdal

What do you do with it?

Kimberly Adams

It’s sort of medicinal um, I look at it because it’s pretty. In theory I could do lots of things with it, but it makes flowers and the pollinators like it and it smells nice in the garden. Oh bless you, Jasper.

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s so interesting. I have never heard of balm as an herb. The only balm I’ve ever heard of is lip balm.

Kimberly Adams 

Balm of Gilead. Oh, no, no, no. That’s very religious. Okay, what else do we have? I’m gonna look in Discord. You can have a look at in the chat.

Kai Ryssdal 

Alright so a lot of, well, we we brought up lots of pumpkin spice. Thank you very much. Bleepity bleep bleep. Let’s see Sam Adams Oktoberfest in Iowa for Jonathan. Melissa McCarty 3 Floyds Robert the Bruce Scottish style ale. Excellent. Ernest Bellamy totally unrelated Is it me or are the webcams giving late 90s early 2000s dial up clarity. I don’t know. Mine’s pretty clear.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh, no. That’s not good.

Kai Ryssdal 

Tom Beck tells me the glasses are no longer etched they use epoxy paint now.

Kimberly Adams 

Tim in the Discord has a nice photo that he’s shared of the screen with the two of us on it and an atomic pumpkin beer in the foreground. Tamra is having a diet Pepsi so that she doesn’t eat the cupcakes in her refrigerator I mean, I would not judge, and Snoop from Las Cruces Ancho Margarita classic Margarita but substituting Ancho Reyes chile liqueur for tequila. Now that’s fine. I’m loving all of these different editions with tequila to margaritas because since I do have nonalcoholic tequila I can use the nonalcoholic tequila with all these different things and make like a half as boozy but still flavorful drinks I’m gonna have to try this out Ancho chile liqueur and paw paw liqueur. Um, I’m doing it.

Kai Ryssdal 

Alright, one more. And this is this is just an update on the balm. Bepatent says in the YouTube chat, a chiefly Mediterranean perennial herb. Melissa oficionales, in the mint family grown for its lemon scented foliage, which is used as a seasoning for tea or food.

Kimberly Adams

Why thank you. I will I will give it a shot.

Kai Ryssdal

You learn something new on this podcast everyday.

Kimberly Adams 

And you know what, it’s actually a nice little extra layer of flavor on my cocktail. I’ll take it.

Kai Ryssdal 

That’s good. I don’t know who on our podcast app is running the Marketplace APM thing in the YouTube chat, but you’re fired for saying it’s officially pumpkin spice season y’all. I just I actually don’t have the power to fire anybody at this place, which I always loved, it’s very handy. Not to have any power. Any who.

Kimberly Adams 

It looks like I’m the one who’s low res on video. But oh, that’s okay. I mean, it is what it is. Let’s go. Let’s get to the news. You’ve heard I mean, we’ve got two Washington Post stories.

Kai Ryssdal 

So so so mine is on the lighter side. And it’s a random thing that I saw floating around on my socials and it just kind of bewilders me, it’s a story from The Washington Post, about how apparently, men think about Ancient Rome and the Roman Empire. Like all the time, this is inspired by a Tik Toker in Scandinavia, I think he tweeted something out, it caught on. And this woman got a Tik Tok and asked her partner how often he thinks about the Roman Empire. And he said, all the time, and it kind of like amplified from there. And lots of men on lots of show socials are saying that to think about the Roman Empire all the time. I’m a reasonably history minded man. And I don’t think about the Roman Empire at all. And I just find it absolutely bewildering. Totally bewildering.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes, but I wonder if it has to do with all the like Roman era movies and things that came out for a while, like the gladiator and the 300 was the Spartans. So that wasn’t Rome. But I wonder how well people know that difference? I don’t know, I actually think about Ancient Rome quite a bit myself. And I’m not. I do because I’m always thinking about the bread and circuses analogy. And in terms of where we are in the economy. Wow. So for people who don’t know, I don’t even know who said it. But at some point in time, the Roman Empire was like super far flung and stretched out, and the Roman citizens were paying all these taxes to maintain these armies all over the world. And it wasn’t a great system in the empire was like fracturing at the seams. But the leadership basically figured out that as long as they kept people well fed and entertained, they would let the government do whatever they wanted. And so there’s this idea of bread and circuses, you have your gladiator matches, and all that other stuff, keep people occupied with bread and circuses and government can do what they like.

Kai Ryssdal

Wow. Wow. You learn something everyday. That’s the second thing I’ve learned.

Kimberly Adams

And we are very well fed and entertained with the United States of America.

Kai Ryssdal 

Anyway, that’s my somewhat frivolous news. You go ahead.

Kimberly Adams 

Oh, no, I don’t think that was frivolous. I thought that was interesting. I learned something new too. Okay. I also have a Washington Post story that is on its face a little frivolous, but actually talks about something a lot deeper. So there’s this big story about celebrity teeth, and how perfect the teeth of the modern celebrities happen to be perfectly white, perfectly even. No variation in color. Even though natural teeth tend to have like the front two teeth a little bit lower than the rest of them. Celebrity’s teeth are all perfectly like straight line. And it goes into how much money and all of the work that is necessary to get these smiles and how it is pushing yet another unrealistic beauty standard out into the world because it’s so expensive and often unhealthy for people to get what’s usually veneers which means that you have to like shave off a little bit of the outside of your tooth and put a cap on it. And that’s not great for most people if you have healthy teeth, and Americans are already like obsessed with the perfect smile. And this is just taking it to another level. But just looking at how much people pay for these smiles, like you can get into the tens of thousands of dollars, if not the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There’s also a game here where you can look at the smile and try to guess which celebrity it belongs to. And, you know, fun fact, one of the first jobs that I ever had with a paycheck was sort of helping out at a dentist office because my neighbor across the street was a dentist and she let me like, you know, help clean up in the office for like some extra money. And I saw up close and personal what happened because that was in the era in St. Louis and many other places when gold teeth were very popular. And let me tell you, you do not want to know what’s underneath when you take those gold teeth off. Yeah, so any you know, the grills were very popular and it was not fun times once those things came off. And I’m have to imagine it’s uh, you know, veneers are great for some people, but it’s not always a solution. And most people’s smiles are fine, although I will take this moment to point people to the episode of “This Is Uncomfortable,” where Reema talks about and talked to this woman where how teeth are an income status marker in the United States. And how it’s like a shortcut for did you have money growing up? And if not, you know, as an adult, your teeth can really hold you back if you don’t have the air quote, perfect smile. And so anyway, very fascinating piece for sure.

Kai Ryssdal 

Yes, yeah, totally.

Kimberly Adams 

Smile big now Kai we want to see.

Kai Ryssdal

It’s all I got.

Kimberly Adams

All right, well, that is it for the news. We’re gonna take a quick break. And when we come back, Drew Jostad is going to lead us in the wonderful game of Half Full, Half Empty.

Kai Ryssdal 

All right, Half Full, Ehlf Empty is the game. Drew Jostad is the man in charge. Drew you may begin.

Drew Jostad 

Are you half full or half empty on the disappearance of G rated movies.

Kai Ryssdal 

So this was a piece that we read in The New York Times that I interviewed the journalist about, basically, G rated movies have disappeared from mainstream cinema except like a couple of them. And it’s kind of wild. I think it’s a little sad. Actually. I used to enjoy clever G rated movies that add little something for the parents. And now it’s kind of all PG and that’s fine, too. You know, whatever. But it’d be nice to have a little family movie thing. So I’m gonna

Kimberly Adams 

I’m gonna go half empty, because now I’m like, a little bit paranoid to watch some movies with, you know, my nieces or nephews, because it’s like, yeah, yeah, you know, so it’s a kid movie. It’s PG not G. Like, do I have to be worried or is it going to be okay, and I know my sister is always trying to like, watch movies first and judge whether or not they’re actually the children’s movie is actually going to be appropriate for children. So I’m gonna say half empty.

Kai Ryssdal

Yep totally.

Drew Jostad 

Half full or half empty on the Birkenstock IPO?

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, Michel did this story it was about IPOs in general not just Birkenstock I did not know first of all that the company Birkenstock was founded in 1774. Some where in Germany also that it had been owned by a private equity firm for a while but now it’s gone public Look, I don’t wear them but a lot of people do and if going public gets access to the capital markets and they can expand and grow then sure.

Kimberly Adams 

I’m half empty I just don’t like the way they look no matter how many colors no matter how many varieties and I find far too many people wear them with sandals and it bothers me and I just.

Kai Ryssdal

I think you mean with socks.

Kimberly Adams 

Yes sorry with socks. Yes. It’s the socks with sandals thing I just I can’t, I can’t deal so half empty because I don’t want to see more of that in the world.

Kai Ryssdal 

I’m amused you are out there with that take good for you.

Kimberly Adams

I have strong feelings about socks with sandals.

Drew Jostad 

Don’t hold back, don’t hold back. The aluminum can for limited edition, limited edition Coca Cola Y3000 says it is futuristic flavored and co-created with artificial intelligence, are you have full or half empty?

Kai Ryssdal 

I know nothing about that story. But I will say off the top of my head it is bunk. Just please, soda with artificial intelligence creations .Shut up. Half empty because it’s bogus. Also all you kids get off my lawn.

Kimberly Adams 

Well I’m gonna have a different take altogether half full, because I feel like corporations experimenting with ways that AI can be used in food production and developing new flavor profiles is, you know, another rollout of the technology that could, you know, who knows, at some point yields the same kind of technology that helps us with medical discoveries or scale up technology that helps us, you know, maybe make the most out of existing materials and flavors without you know, cutting down palm forests and clear cutting and all the other harms of industrialized food. And so if there’s a way to use AI to not cause harm, as long as it’s not like the AI secretly, you know, trying to poison us, I’m gonna go half full because I feel like we’re in the stage with AI, where we got to try a lot of things hopefully not die in the process, and ideally, fingers crossed come out for the better.

Kai Ryssdal

Alright fair enough. Fair enough

Drew Jostad 

Next topic: according to the FDA, an ingredient in 80% of over the counter, oral decongestants doesn’t work. Are you half full or half empty on over-the-counter decongestants?

Kimberly Adams 

I’m staring at several boxes of it that I pulled out of my cold and flu and sinus box in my closet, because I get sinus problems all the time. And that’s like half of my medicine cabinet. And I’m like, do I get a refund? Yeah, so

Kai Ryssdal 

How many of them had whatever that thing was in it? I don’t even remember what it was.

Kimberly Adams 

I’d say about two thirds, because the other one that I take has the actual pseudoephedrine in it, which you have to go to the pharmacy and like show your ID to get. So if I’m in a hurry, I get the one that you don’t have to go to the pharmacy to get. So I end up with more of that. And, and so yeah, it’s it’s a lot of stuff. And now I’m like, well, should I even bother taking it until it’s gone? Just for the you know, placebo effect? And yes, Adam, Adam first points out that they switched to this new chemical that we now realize is useless, because people were using the pseudoephedrine and the ephedrine and all those things to make meth. Actually, when I was a local reporter on TV, I covered that transition when they started pulling it off the shelves. Because I was in Missouri, and there was a lot of meth. But anyway, I’m gonna say, all the way empty. Because I’m a sinus person. I have sinus problems.

Kai Ryssdal 

It just, you know, the panel of experts like years ago, like 15, 16 years ago said it doesn’t work and it just took the FDA 15 years come on, man. I’m half empty. Don’t need to waste time on stuff that doesn’t work.

Drew Jostad 

Alright we got a poll.

Kimberly Adams 

Yeah, we’re gonna Okay, so folks in the YouTube chat, get ready, those of you who are watching and able to engage with the YouTube chat, because we know that there are others as well, okay.

Drew Jostad 

Half full or half empty on the Instant Pot.

Kimberly Adams 

Hmm, so this is a, if I’m not mistaken, the story is about how like the Instant Pot, the company that made Instant Pot is really struggling, because people bought lots of Instant pots during the pandemic, but it’s a durable little machine there. And once you have one, you don’t really need another one. And I guess they missed the planned obsolescence memo that the rest of corporate America has been operating on. And so if this is the same, same story that I’m thinking of, and so yeah, it was like the very popular thing. Oh, yeah. Why did the Instant Pot go out of style? Oh, there was an obituary for the Instant Pot that one of the reporters did in The New Yorker magazine. I think that a lot of us were experimenting with different ways of cooking during the worst of the pandemic, and the Instant Pot was very amenable to that. And so, lots of people bought one I was I have one.

Kai Ryssdal 

And do you use it?

Kimberly Adams 

I do, I use it because I bought it because my rice cooker broke. And my good friend was like well if you’re gonna get another rice cooker, you may as well get an Instant Pot because it does all of these other things. And I did that and I still pretty much use it as a rice cooker. I I will occasionally like, make a stew but not more often than I make a stew on the stove. But I believe I would, in theory be able to make yogurt in it, which is apparently a thing. Hey, it’s a thing other people do it and they, they say it’s, it’s great. You know, like my same friend, she uses it for yogurt all the time she uses it to make stock, she uses it to make flavored syrups which I may do this winter because you know, I like a good flavored syrup in a cocktail. And so, you know, I have a very…

Drew Jostad 

If you wanna make beans without soaking them. That’s what I use mine for.

Kimberly Adams 

Beans, beans, yeah.

Drew Jostad 

You don’t have to soak it overnight.

Kai Ryssdal 

I’m clearly missing something because we don’t have an Instant Pot. I don’t know what I would do if I had one. Also, I don’t need more stuff on my kitchen counters. And we don’t have a lot of storage space in our kitchen because it’s a very old house. So I think that’s where it loses out, honestly.

Kimberly Adams 

So I’m in the chat. There’s lots of things that we can apparently do. Steamed artichoke, pasta and soups. Lee and Maryland also agrees with Drew that it’s great for cooking beans, fresh beans to soak beans, beans. And somebody is saying the airfryer is next for the obits. I believe it’s the same thing as a convection oven, right in airfryer, which is it’s just like a stovetop convection, which has been around. Oh, Barbara Monica and points out something interesting about the yogurt, homemade, homemade yogurt, instead of buying all those plastic containers that they only say they can recycle. So there we go. Yes, lots of recommendations. Okay, I am going to go half empty, because that’s a big piece of machinery that’s going to create a lot of waste if everybody who bought an Instant Pot chucks it. So I hope that people can get as much use out of it as they can before they send it into the abyss or at least gift it to like broke college student or something like that, like they did with the old grills.

Kai Ryssdal 

So the poll is 56% half full 43% half empty with 165 votes. I honestly don’t have an opinion. I don’t know enough to have an opinion. I guess I’m half empty, because I don’t need another thing on my kitchen counter. That’s where I am.

Kimberly Adams 

But I mean, I think that would make you half full on the demise of the Instant Pot.

Kai Ryssdal 

Oh, yes, I suppose it would you’re right read. RTFQ Kai, RTFQ.

Kimberly Adams 

Okay, well, that is all we have for today. Sorry.

Kai Ryssdal 

Anywho. So, questions, comments, you know how to get to us. Voicemail is 508-U-B-SMART. Email is makemesmart@marketplace.org. We will read them and get them on the pod.

Kimberly Adams 

Read them and weep. We are going to be back with you on Monday. And in the meantime, if you enjoy watching this live stream on YouTube, I bet you would enjoy watching our new series on Marketplace. It’s Amy Scott’s new series. It’s a video series called burning questions. So Amy hosts “How We Survive” for us and they have this new series called “Burning Questions.” It’s a video first series and it explores some of these like pressing questions about solutions to the climate crisis. And who knows maybe one day we can get them to do something on yogurt cups. The first episode however, is all about fast fashion something else we throw away a lot of and whether we can still be fashionable and save the planet and remember we had that conversation about toxic fashion and so as toxic as it is for us, fashion can also be toxic for the planet. Anyhow, we’re gonna link to the Burning Question series in our show notes and let us know what you think. It’s pretty cool.

Kai Ryssdal 

Make Me Smart is produced by Courtney Bergsieker. Today’s episode was engineered by Charlton Thorp. Our intern is Niloufar Shahbandi . Drew Jostad wrote the theme music for the game Half Full, Half Empty.

Kimberly Adams 

The team behind half full half empty is Emily Macune and Antoinette Brock. Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Bridget Bodnar is the director of podcasts and Francesca Levy is the executive director of Digital and today on demand. It’s the gift that keeps on giving it really is.

Kai Ryssdal 

Just today only. Tomorrow or Monday couldn’t tell you.

Kimberly Adams 

Who knows? A new adventure every week.

Kai Ryssdal

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