Forever Ago

Brains On presents Forever Ago®, a history show for the whole family! Every episode looks into the surprising and fascinating history of things we think are ordinary, but they’re not -- like ice cream flavors, video games, baths and more. We make learning about the past fun while teaching listeners to think critically about history.


  • Flying colors: The story of the rainbow Pride flag

    Jun 07 2023

    This week, Joy and co-host Lilike are at a Pride celebration! These celebrations have taken place since 1969, but the rainbow flag is a more recent invention! Tag along to check out all the amazing parade floats, learn about the queer community’s fight for civil rights, and discover how the Pride flag was first created! Plus, a new game of First Things First featuring some of our favorite emojis!Kiwico.com - Use promo code forever to get 50% off your first month and free shipping

  • See Joy Dolo at Smash Boom Best LIVE!

    Jun 06 2023

    You know Joy Dolo as your favorite ever host of Forever Ago, but she's also a debater on our sister podcast Smash Boom Best. And we're really excited to let you know that on Sunday, July 23rd she'll be performing in Smash Boom Best LIVE at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. She'll be duking it out with actor and comedian Brant Miller in not one, but TWO smash boom smackdowns of epic proportions – topics top secret! Plus! If you subscribe to our Smarty Pass you can get a discount...more

  • Forever Ago History Sound Extravaganza!

    Jun 05 2023

    Hey, Smarty Pal, want more Forever Ago? Check out this sneak peek of Joy playing a brand new game she just invented that bears no resemblance to any other game. Listen as Joy pulls intriguing, silly, stupendous, sounds from her pocket and see if you can guess when the sounds came from and what made them!

  • How a freezing summer gave us Frankenstein, bicycles and more

    May 31 2023

    Joy and co-host Asa learn about the year without a summer, and how it led to some amazing inventions! 1816 was a very strange year. In many parts of the world warm summer weather never came, and crops froze.  Scientists now know these were the effects of a volcanic eruption, but back then, people had no idea what was happening. Still, this tragedy kicked off a lot of innovation, from new works of art to new ways of growing food. Come learn all about it while Joy and Asa wait out a rainstorm at C...more

  • ZAP! The history of the microwave

    May 24 2023

    Beep boop ZAP! Did you know that the microwave oven was invented by accident? From space-age luxury item to everyday appliance, microwaves have come a long way in the 76 years they’ve been around. Join Joy and cohost Aaliyah for the history of the gadget that made it possible for us to heat our breakfast burritos or mac and cheese bowls in mere seconds. Plus, your hosts bust some microwave myths and tackle a brand new round of First Things First!  *****Do you have your Smarty Pass yet?? Get your...more

  • Way to Play: How Playgrounds Grew Up

    May 17 2023

    We’re so excited to be back for season THREE of Forever Ago! Join Joy, Elysse, and some talking playground equipment as they spring through time to explore playgrounds of the past, present and future. You’ll hear how playgrounds started popping up thanks to the industrial revolution. You’ll visit 1960’s London to hang out with the godmother of Adventure Play, and meet a group of students working to transform their inaccessible playground into a recess retreat for everybody! And of course, a new ...more

  • Forever Ago is Back May 17!

    May 04 2023

    Season 3 of Forever Ago is starting soon! Forever Ago is a history podcast for the whole family, where we explore the before! This season, we’ve got all kinds of surprising stories for you. Tune in to learn some awesome facts, and play games like First Things First, and hear from listeners like you! New episodes drop Wednesday starting May 17th. But if you just can’t wait, you can check out a bonus episode with Joy by signing up for our Smarty Pass!

  • Million Bazillion: Why do some people get paid more than others?

    Apr 24 2023

    Hey Forever Friends! A quick note: our new season starts on May 17th, and we can’t wait to share it with you! Until then, we’re excited to share this episode of Million Bazillion. It’s a show our pals ask and answer all kinds of questions around money. Check it out and enjoy!  In this episode, listeners Henry and Nathanial wanted to know why workers don’t get paid the same. Million Bazillion co-hosts Ryan and Bridget help break down what’s known as the “wage gap” with the help of the Vindicat...more

  • Do scientists have superpowers?

    Feb 13 2023

    Hi! It’s Joy Dolo here. Forever Ago will be back in your feed with new episodes in May! But to tide you over until then, I wanted to share this episode with you that I made with my friends at Brains On. You’ll get to meet some incredible scientists, play the mystery sound game and listen to me contemplate whether tacos are sandwiches! It’s so much fun. Thanks, Friends! Enjoy the show! It's just a normal day at Brains On headquarters, until Molly and co-host Aaliyah find Forever Ago host Joy...more

  • Love is in the hair! A history of cornrow braids

    Nov 23 2022

    Tag along with Joy, Amira and a magical bobblehead with the gift of gab on a road-trip while they explore the history of cornrow hair braiding! We’ll hear how cornrow braids made the leap from ancient tradition to the halls of Congress – and get acquainted with Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black female self-made millionaire who made her fortune with hair and flair!  Plus, a special appearance from King Benkos Bioho, a trail-blazing historical leader who used braids as a secret map to lead enslav...more

  • Rocket women: How a secret program paved the way for female astronauts

    Nov 16 2022

    Get ready for an out-of-this-world episode! Joy and co-host Elsa are trapped in a black hole with a baby elephant and a mountain of old junk!  They’ll explore the history of a super secret astronaut testing program for women called the “Fellow Lady Astronaut Trainees.” This group of bold, highly-trained pilots spent years making a case for why women are just as qualified to become astronauts as men!  Plus, the dynamic duo digs into the history of the Space Race (spoiler: it’s not an astronaut ma...more

  • How pens rewrote history

    Nov 09 2022

    They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but how did it get that way? Join Joy and co-host Buddy as they head to the U-PEN college reunion (a whole university for pens!) and meet pen pals from throughout history, made of everything from feathers to steel. And on First Things First, we’re putting these stupendous school supplies in order: Crayola crayons, whiteboards, and rubber erasers!

  • Tomb raiders: How Egypt’s treasures ended up all over the world

    Nov 02 2022

    There’s stuff from ancient Egypt in museums all over the world, from jewelry and statues to mummified bodies. But it turns out a lot of that stuff was stolen. Joy and co-host Hania learn how Europeans took control of so many important artifacts from ancient Egypt. Plus, they teach a video game character about the disturbing history of unwrapping parties, where Victorian people in the 1800s would unwrap mummified bodies in front of a crowd of people. On First Things First we try to find out which...more

  • Introducing Smarty Pass: Your ticket to the Brains On! Universe

    Oct 31 2022

    Become a Smarty Pass subscriber today to access bonus episodes and ad-free episodes of Brains On!, Smash Boom Best, Moment of Um, and Forever Ago -- all right here in your favorite podcast player. Visit smartypass.org/foreverago to get your Smarty Pass! It's $4/month or $36/year (a three-month discount!) Don't worry: This feed will stay free and we’ll be posting new episodes just like we always have. Whether you choose to subscribe, or keep listening in our free feeds, we so appreciate y...more

  • The lawn con: A history of grass

    Oct 26 2022

    Grab your hedge clippers and don’t forget to feed your plastic flamingos! Joy and cohost Max are exploring the surprising history—and even more surprising legacy—of the American lawn. The clean, green front lawn has been synonymous with the American Dream for decades, but…why do we like lawns so much? A green-year-round carpet of grass takes a lot of water and other resources to maintain, and can pollute local ecosystems. How can we get the pleasant sanctuary of a traditional lawn without harmin...more

  • Guitar stars: Strumming through the ages

    Oct 19 2022

    Get ready to shred! Joy and cohost Buddy are building the most epic guitarchestra (aka guitar orchestra) in this week’s episode — so they’re auditioning some of history’s most notable guitar players. Jazz innovator Charlie Christian shows off his strumming solos, which made scores of people want to buy electric guitars. Les Paul not only plays the electric guitar, he updates the look and sound, paving the way for rock and roll. And musician Sima Cunningham from the band Ohmme stops by to show of...more

  • The Bone Wars: A dino discovery duel!

    Oct 12 2022

    Looking for a story full of spies, sabotage, and feuding scientists? Get ready to dig into today’s episode all about the Bone Wars, a raging rivalry over discovering dinosaur bones and other fossils. Joy and her co-host Siddharth meet two competitive, popsicle-loving paleontologists who can’t seem to stop bickering. We’ll also learn about the history of paleontology with the help of science writer Riley Black. Plus, do you know which animal went extinct first: dodo birds, sabertooth tigers, or ...more

  • Keeping it chill with air conditioning

    Oct 05 2022

    We’re back with a hot new episode on staying cool! We’re talking about the history of air conditioning, our favorite frosty invention. Joy and co-host Maeve meet a sassy talking ice unicorn who is trying to find a place to chill out (and not melt!). Find out what chocolate, chewing gum and macaroni have to do with the invention of air conditioning. Plus, hear about some eco-friendly ways to beat the heat (splash pads, anyone?). First Things First is back, too! Find out which was invented first:...more

  • What do grown ups-do with all their money?

    Sep 28 2022

    Hey there Forever Friends! We’re coming back with new weekly episodes, starting next week. Until then, check out this cash-riffic show from our pals at Million Bazillion. If you add up all the money a grown-up makes in their lifetime, it might sound like a lot! Surely they must have more to show for it. Where are the castles, the ponies, the fancy cars? In this episode, with the help of a magic necklace and a podcast-loving neighbor, we’ll do the numbers on the stuff grown-ups have to pay for e...more

  • Pirates: More than peg legs and parrots

    Jul 20 2022

    Ahoy, matey! When you think of a pirate, you’re probably thinking of a white man with a beard and an eyepatch, maybe a pegleg, maybe a parrot on his shoulder. But we’re here to tell you that pirates didn’t usually look like that. Joy and co-host Elsa learn about what pirates were really like from expert Laura Sook Duncombe (instead of an eyepatch, they usually had… a written contract?) and hear the story of Cheng I Sao, a fierce female pirate who ruled the South China Sea in the early 19th centu...more

  • Who was the first lifeguard?

    Jul 13 2022

    Whenever you go to a big pool or a public beach, you’ll always see lifeguards around: a person whose job it is to stand by the water and make sure everybody is safe. It’s a cool job, but did you ever wonder how it got started? Joy and co-host Brooklyn want to learn how to be lifeguards, and they learn from a couple of robots programmed to be like Hawaiian surfing legends Duke Kahanamoku and George Freeth, who are part of the early history of lifeguarding in the United States. And on First Things...more

  • The Joy of Swimming

    Jul 06 2022

    Everybody loves a nice dip in the pool when it’s hot outside… but if you never learned to swim, that pool can be pretty scary. Host Joy Dolo and co-host Brooklyn take us on a personal journey this week, exploring Joy’s own history with swimming, along with why many African-Americans aren’t comfortable in the water. (Hint: it’s about colonialism.) We’ll look at the history of swimming around the world, some of the misguided beliefs that led some people to think there was only one right way to swi...more

  • When baths met soap

    Jun 29 2022

    Scrub-a-dub-dub, it’s time for the tub! Or is it? You probably wash up with soap plenty of times throughout the week, but did you know that most people throughout history didn’t use soap for their bodies at all? Joy and co-host Maeve take a trip to Menaka’s ‘Storical Soap Stand, to learn how soap became such a big deal. And on First Things First, we’ll be putting these items in historical order: kids’ bubble bath, shower caps, and rubber duckies. 

  • Mac and Cheese: From 'What's in these?' to 'Yes, please!'

    Jun 22 2022

    You might think macaroni and cheese is just a quick and easy meal, or a special dish that comes to the holiday table. But Joy and her co-host Buddy are here to tell you that macaroni and cheese is actually a pair of SUPERHEROES! We’ll trace the history of the dish back to ancient Rome, through the Elizabethan Age, and all the way to America by way of James Hemings, an enslaved chef who cooked for Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. The modern history of mac & cheese continues with the inventio...more

  • The rise and fall of fancy men

    Jun 15 2022

    We can learn a lot about what a culture thinks is important through its fashion. These days, most men don’t wear makeup to work, or lace collars, or powdered wigs, but that wasn’t always the case! Joy and co-host Max go on a journey to the history spa, where they get a 1770s makeover from Frank, the macaroni maven. (What’s a macaroni? Not just a noodle!) Listen as they learn about the ancient history of makeup (we’re talking Egypt here) and why being a fancy man eventually fell out of style. Plu...more

  • Rubik’s Cube: The twists and turns of fads

    Jun 08 2022

    The Rubik’s Cube is a twisty toy that has 43 quintillion possible configurations — and it can also teach us something about trends and fads. Joy and this week’s co-host Buddy are visited by Rocky, of long lost Pet Rock fame, who wonders why it isn’t still popular. Listen as they all explore the ups and downs of the Rubik’s Cube and spot the differneces. Find out who invented the Rubik’s Cube, how it’s popularity died out and why it’s back in a big way now.  We’ll also learn about other trends l...more

  • Ice cream flavors: From whale poo to vanilla

    Jun 01 2022

    Forever Ago kicks off the new season with everybody’s summer favorite: ice cream! In this episode Joy and co-host Maeve explore the many flavors of this frozen treat. Historian Rosa Abreu tells us why classic vanilla is anything but boring. We’ll also check out some historical tastes of the past, including mace, orange blossom, and ambergris. That last one comes out of a whale’s intestine and was considered a delicacy. We’ll learn about how ice cream was a symbol of the rich and powerful, long...more

  • Forever Ago is back June 1!

    May 18 2022

    Forever Ago fans! The moment is finally here! Host Joy Dolo and team are back with new episodes June 1! Forever Ago is a history show for the whole family. Every episode looks into the surprising and fascinating history of things we think are ordinary but they’re not - like ice cream flavors, video games, baths, and more.

  • Shoes: How French Royalty Became the Fashion Police

    Dec 27 2018

    The oldest known pair of shoes didn’t look like much, but foot fashion has come a long ways since prehistoric sandals. Joy Dolo and her co-host Daria lace up some matching footwear and take a hike through shoe history with reporter Nancy Yang. First stop is the Oregon cave where a 9,000-year-old pair of shoes was discovered. Then, a French king who tried to enforce a monopoly on his signature style, and the inventor who made shoes affordable for everyone. And finally, is the future of shoes… bac...more

  • Umbrellas: The Magic Invention of the Sculptress

    Dec 20 2018

    Umbrellas have been shielding us from the elements for thousands of years, but they haven’t always been in style. Time-traveling reporter Josie Huang takes Joy Dolo and co-host Bella on a bumpy ride through “brolly” history. We’ll meet the fashion-forward guy who made it cool to carry an umbrella in London, and the savvy sculptor Slawa Duldig, who created a more portable design. Plus, a visit from resident umbrella trend forecaster Sanden Totten.

  • Emojis: The :-) That Changed Everything

    Dec 13 2018

    From simple smiley faces to sparkly unicorns, we have a lot of emoji options. But it wasn’t always this way. Joy Dolo and co-host Melissa search for the very first emoji with reporter Elyssa Dudley. They’ll meet the man behind the first emojis designed for cell phones, and visit the early computer lab where smiley faces went viral. Plus, we’ll meet the teenager who created her very own emoji. You can support Brains On and Forever Ago at brainson.org/donate.

  • Clocks: A Brief History of Telling Time

    Dec 06 2018

    Long before clocks, humans found creative ways to track time. From falling sand to burning incense, we tried it all. But it took a daydreaming astronomer and a whole lot of inventors to get us to the precise clocks we use today. Joy Dolo and co-host Kira set off on a tour of ancient timekeeping devices with reporter Carla Javier. Plus, we’ll learn about a clock buried deep in a mountain side that’s designed to keep ticking for 10,000 years. This episode is sponsored by StoryWorth (storyworth.com...more

  • Sandwiches: A Hillel By Any Other Name

    Nov 29 2018

    It’s a simple recipe: bread, filling, bread. But sandwiches had to get their scrumptious start somewhere. Joy Dolo and co-host Ben travel back to a time when putting food between two slices of bread was a culinary revolution. Reporter Tracy Mumford introduces us to two innovators duking it out for the credit, and Brains On host Molly Bloom treats us to some strange historical sandwiches, including a sandwich loaf. This episode is sponsored by Hint (drinkhint.com/forever) and Molekule (molekule.c...more

  • Skateboards: When Roller Skates Met Surfboards

    Nov 22 2018

    The first skateboards didn’t come from a store. Kids had to make them from scratch! And they made for a bumpy ride… Joy Dolo and twelve-year-old pro skater Minna kickflip their way through history with reporter Chris Greenspon. We’ll get the scoop on low-tech early skateboards and the skaters who innovated their way to a smoother ride. Plus, we’ll talk with a skater who wants to change the world with four wheels and a deck. You can support Brains On and Forever Ago at brainson.org/donate.

  • Cameras: From Pinholes to Perfect Selfies

    Nov 15 2018

    Did you know that the ancestor of our smartphone cameras was just a box with a tiny hole in it? This week, Joy Dolo and kid co-host Elena explore the wide world of cameras with the help of reporter Paulina Velasco. Ancient philosophers, French inventors, and one frustrated businessman team up across space and time to bring us the modern camera. And we’ll meet a scientist who wants to use cameras to help the blind see. You can support Brains On and Forever Ago at brainson.org/donate.

  • Video Games: A Tale of Two Pongs

    Nov 08 2018

    Video games are a lot older than you probably realize, but it took a long time for them to catch on. Join host Joy Dolo and kid co-host Kai on an epic quest through history to figure out how video games began. With help from intrepid reporter Cari Spivack, they’ll visit the age of dinosaur computers, early arcades and befriend some talking cows. Today’s episode is sponsored by Care/of (takecareof.com). You can support Forever Ago at brainson.org/donate.

  • Season One: The Trailer

    Oct 24 2018

    Forever Ago is a history show for the whole family. Every episode explores the origin of one thing – like sandwiches, video games and clocks – while teaching listeners to think critically about the past. Hosted by Joy Dolo and produced by the team behind Brains On and Smash Boom Best.