Radiolab

Navigate
Return Home

The Explorer's Club & The Sugar Egg

Back to Episode

(Photo Credit: Vincent Liota)

We start at The Explorer’s Club — a Manhattan mansion filled with objects from the greatest adventures of the 20th century. Will Roseman gives us a tour that brings out a 40-year argument between Robert and his wife Tamar about the power of physical things to transport us into the past. Then we get in the studio with producer Vin Liota, who weaves together, right in front of us, the tender tale of a man, an egg, a box, and a tree. In the end, our own desire to share the objects in this show leads to a surprising ending, and a new beginning.

The scan of Rick's sugar egg at the moment everything changed:

Guests:

Vincent Liota, Rick Rawlins and Will Roseman

Comments [26]

EvilBob

Interesting that R Daneel Olivaw feels no empathy with a story clearly used to illustrate how tokens can have meaning and resonate throughout our lives, while he uses the pseudonym of a humaniform robot incapable of feeling empathy. A strong sense of irony, or none at all?

Jul. 14 2014 10:19 PM
Ronda Combes from Idaho Springs CO

I completely understand the importance of the sugar egg. As an adult, I have found peace and closure in revisiting the numerous places my family lived (state side and overseas). We moved so much that my childhood became more of a dream than a reality. Visiting the places we lived solidified my childhood, allowed me to say, "I was here, this was real." Listening to your podcast made me cry because I found a kindred spirit in your story. Thank you.

Jul. 10 2014 05:40 PM
Ellis from Illinois

Yes, we become emotionally attached to things that represent a memory or memories and sentiments.
I totally understand it.
However, in my own little world,I was so anticipating that Robert would have attempted to locate his old friend David after the egg was destroyed.

Jul. 08 2014 03:17 PM
Nickolay from Moscow

It is somehow strange coincidence, but PLA plastic used in 3D printing is basically sugar. Technically any egg from this scan, produced in PLA is also a shugar egg.

Jul. 04 2014 04:22 PM
R Daneel Olivaw

"... I feel that an egg breaking from a childhood memory to a privileged man is revolting." I had much the same reaction. There must be ten thousand podcasts full of human-interest stories. I assume; I don't know. When I want a human-interest story, I'll talk to an actual human, in person. There are seven billion people on this planet. Probably most of them have stories like this, about some obsessive emotional attachment. What's special about this one?

I listen to podcasts to learn about the world, about how things work. ("Things" in a broad sense, including politics, economics, and psychology, among others.) If this story had connected to anything broader, such as maybe the psychology and neurology of attachment, or the philosophy that teaches that attachment causes suffering, that might have been interesting. But that didn't happen.

Jun. 25 2014 01:02 PM
R from Colorado

I had to stop listening after Radiolab crew apologized profusely for the egg breaking. At this moment there are children dying crossing deserts to reunite with parents, so many more hard realities innocent children are experiencing that unfortunately I feel that an egg breaking from a childhood memory to a privileged man is revolting. Radiolab how about you get out of your comfort-zone and ask a more diverse group of people from diverse backgrounds for story ideas. Please, speak about making media in a bubble. Bleh.

Jun. 23 2014 11:56 PM
Andrew from Woodside

Did the scan produce a valid file? I have 2 3d printers at home and a fleet in my highschool, and by printing the cracked egg I feel like I could be a part of the story.

Jun. 13 2014 10:51 AM
dale janus from ohio

Every day at lunch I walk the nearby bike trail for 40 minutes. Usually I listen to music, but every so often I listen to radiolab. I just got a new phone, so I had to go looking around to find radiolab, but I find it and start listening to this story on things. The sugar egg story was pretty good and then their was the seed vase story. So I'm walking back up the bike trail to the office, listening to them trying to find it 11 years later, and the next thing I know, I'm at the next cross street. I had walked a half mile past the office listening to the story!
keep up the good work.

Jun. 12 2014 03:27 PM
John from Edmonton, Alberta

I honestly thought this was playing out such that you gave him a broken 3D printed copy of the egg to see how he'd react and then give him back his real egg. Would have been kinda terrible, but at least it would have had a happy ending!

Thanks for the show - just found it and I'm loving it already.

Cheers

Jun. 11 2014 11:17 AM

I thought this was a beautiful and sad story. I cannot understand how some commenters cannot remember the fragile state of their own 8 year old heart and how even as an adult, the fragile egg could hold such profound feelings from childhood.

Jun. 10 2014 03:33 AM
H K from Vegas

I loved this story. It made me cry- but out of relief that I am understood; I'm not the only one made sentimental about something physical that symbolizes something much more profound. We are "America's Gypsies" also known as military families. I have moved so many times. Once, I actually moved to Idaho from Washington where I had planted some beloved maples, just like David in the story. I feel tired and bone weary of the newness of every experience. After hearing this story, I am reminded of why I so want OUT of this lifestyle. I would like to try living with roots instead of wings. I want to be planted, myself! Wings take you a lot of places, but roots allow you to pull sustenance from your surroundings.

Jun. 07 2014 07:40 PM
Mommalibrarian from midwest USA

Sugar eggs are edible to the same degree that sugar cubes are edible. Eating them is not the point. The ones I remember had little scenes inside them, built with sugary icing. Later the scenes were made with cardboard. They were often given at Easter. They only things that would destroy them were pressure and moisture. They would last forever in a desert tomb.

Jun. 07 2014 05:45 PM
Mike C. from Grand Canyon, AZ

I was very happy to learn that you found someone who can fix Rick's broken egg. Before today I thought that food repair was a joke from a 30-year-old John Candy sketch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCxscU0hWok&feature=kp

"Hello, Roy's Food Repair ... Uh-huh ... Yeah, eggs? Yeah, we fix 'em."

Jun. 06 2014 11:17 AM
Rob from Cincinnati

Beautiful stories, just one question. What is the music that starts playing at about the 13 minute mark and cuts out at about 14:10?

Jun. 06 2014 10:00 AM
Brianna Murphy

My father has a half eaten lasagna he has kept in our cupboard for nearly 30 years. It now looks much like tar coated baking pan. When I asked my mother why she never threw it out she replied with a sort of resigned contempt, "Because it would be grounds for a divorce."
Needless to say this episode hit close to home.

Jun. 06 2014 02:40 AM
M O'Connor from San Francisco

Does anyone know the music used in this story?

Jun. 04 2014 09:12 PM
klc10 from NH

I wasn't a fan of the sugar egg story either. I've never gotten attached to objects. Having said that, though, I did feel horrible when they broke the egg. Although I wasn't invested in the object, I did feel myself having empathy for the guy who WAS invested.

Jun. 04 2014 12:14 PM
Raymond Tapia from Chicago, IL

I can relate with Rick, the owner of the egg. While I was a kid, my family relocated from country to country, because my father was in the military. I have fond and unpleasant memories for which I assigned those memories to many items. Unfortunately because of moving most, if not all items, were lost. I still continue to move around as an adult, and I generally don't like to keep things. But listening to this story I couldn't help think that of all the things I would most want to keep it would be at least one item that held great significance to my brother. He passed away 10 years ago. His death was sudden and such a shock that my family gave little thought to knowing what to really keep. I have at least photos, but I would love to have what he found to be most special to him in his life. So even if someone thinks of an item having insignificance it sure has significance to another. The sugar egg has much meaning to Rick and that's all that matters. I would tend to think of it as part of your history and culture that played a role in who you are today. Thanks for sharing the story Rick and Radiolab.

Jun. 03 2014 12:40 PM

I find it interesting that we assume that an anecdotal story loses all importance and meaning just because it is not meta enough, or because it doesn't have any bearing on culture, science, history, etc. The reality is that we need these personal stories to understand the world around us. If we merely look to analytical information and never see how it is lived out we miss out on the most important information that would help us think about the way that we live our lives. This is a great example of how Radiolab takes a lofty idea such as object permanence, or object physiology and apply it to our lives. Great work everyone. Loved the episode.

Jun. 03 2014 09:57 AM
Davel from Driving through South Carolina

I can't believe so many people commented that they don't empathize with this mans affection for this egg. The egg symbolizes something profoundly deep for him that radiolab did a great job of communicating. I definitely have objects like that and if hurts to lose it!

Jun. 02 2014 04:26 PM
Nicole from Miami

Such a touching and sweet story. I think most of us have objects that hold meaning for us which would make strangers go "ooookay". Doesn't mean he's creepy or weird.

Jun. 01 2014 09:28 PM
j276

Should be titled creepy nostalgia. Breaking the o so special egg saved it for me though....

Jun. 01 2014 07:48 PM
Sondre Kraglund

The egg story was very boring, I did not care for the egg, story or the man. Just because some dude really likes this thing does not make it any interesting to me, just like Robert's wife does not share his enthusiasm of things. No matter how big the words he uses are or how profound his feelings for the things are, she simply do not share it. Why would listeners feel any different about the egg story, especially when the object is some pointless thing that has no impact on history, culture or society other than some guy's feelings, which is quite the opposite of the aforementioned objects? I get the point of it, but the story does not make up for how boring its content is.

Jun. 01 2014 07:01 PM
Benjamin Polygon

You guys fucked up a man's sugar egg... that's the kind of thing that can't be forgiven.

Jun. 01 2014 06:37 PM
Zachary Noel

http://candy.about.com/od/sugarcandy/r/sugar_eggs.htm

Jun. 01 2014 05:35 PM
C Daniels from Massachusetts

Frankly, I find the idea of any food item being kept for 40 years weird and even kind of creepy. Sharing the STORY of the egg, however, is priceless, especially to a member of the next generation! I think it is also likely to much longer than 40 years.
This is, in fact, the reason I love and value these shows! Neither memories nor even electronic bytes may be forever, but seem that much more valuable to me than the objects they inspire.

Jun. 01 2014 01:32 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.