The Weirdest Ways America Tried To Win The Cold War

Suburban sprawl aimed to do much more than give everyone yards.
The Weirdest Ways America Tried To Win The Cold War

Thought experiment: you're a large country locked in a 20th century geopolitical death struggle. Any wrong move could irradiate the planet. Any right move gets you a marginal victory over your opponent without ending the larger conflict. In that scenario, do you ease the root tensions driving the world insane? Or do you maximize those tensions, dig your heels in, and remake your entire society just to piss off the Rooskies? (Spoiler: you do the second thing and it becomes this podcast episode.)

On this episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by comedian Chloe Radcliffe, comedian & podcaster John Moe, University of Minnesota historian Elaine Tyler May, and an amazing LIVE audience at Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul MN. They team up to explore the strangest, oddest, most bizarre ways America tried to win the Cold War -- everything from social engineering to suburban sprawl to a bomb shelter for non-human Americans -- and examine how those intentional societal shifts stick with us today.


Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era by Dr. Elaine Tyler May

America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation by Dr. Elaine Tyler May

The Hilarious World Of Depression podcast

Chloe Radcliffe on Instagram

Lyrics for "Thirteen Women" by Bill Haley And His Comets (Genius)

1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight (The New York Times)

Soviet Union timeline (BBC News)

Abe Simpson "tied an onion to my belt" story (YouTube upload)

The great atomic bomb cake controversy of 1946 (io9)

That Time American School Kids Were Given Dog Tags Because of Nukes (Gizmodo Paleofuture)

Follow the money: In the 1950s, D.C.'s civil defense dog tag program looked fishy (The Washington Post)

How Growing Up With the Threat of Nuclear War Shapes Kids' Psyches (The Cut)

"Atomic Tattoos" episode of the 99% Invisible podcast

The Doomsday Diet (Eater)

Crackers Are Reminders of New York City's H-Bomb Fears (The New York Times)

Images shown to the live audience:

"Their Sheltered Honeymoon" from Life Magazine

Sheltered Honeymoon couple with yard full of their supplies

Nixon/Khrushchev "kitchen debate", July 1959

illustration of sexy ladies as radiation, from "Your Chance To Live" pamphlet, Defense Civil Preparedness Agency

"Fallout Shelters are for Cows Too" (

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