“Food Crimes” is a new original podcast on Pinna – an audio streaming service for kids aged 3-12- that focuses on families taking each other to audio-wave food court to debate leftovers, spilled milk, and much more. This fun interactive series launched in January of 2021 has quickly become a fan favorite on the platform.
Amy Kraft, Director of Development and Children’s Programming at Pinna and Ash Beecher, Senior Production Manager at Pinna recently discussed the new podcast series via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in audio podcasts and how did you find your way to Pinna?
AMY: Before joining the Pinna team, I worked on the podcast ExtraBLURT for Pinna with Sharon Bilman at Monkey Bar Collective. We both had a background in game design, and jumped at the possibility of exploring games in the audio space.
ASH: I have been a huge fan of podcasts for years now, they are a part of my daily life. In fact, one of the first things Matt Fornwald (my fiance and creative partner) and I bonded over was our shared fandom of comedy podcasts. My career has always been in Children’s Media, but the television side of the business. As soon as I learned about Pinna, I knew I wanted to work there – it’s the perfect combination of what I love and what I do!
MM: What led to the development of “Food Crimes” and what made such a strange idea a good sell?
ASH: Like many people, my mood can be greatly affected by food. For example, I am someone who gets hangry (hungry+angry). The term “food crime” started as a funny way for me to warn Matt that if meal plans go awry, I’m probably going to get grumpy. One of our more infamous food crime moments was a night in which we had planned on having tacos, all day I looked forward to a taco dinner – then, last minute Matt said a friend would have to join for dinner, and oh by the way he wants to order Chinese takeout so we would be eating that instead. I was the victim of a food crime! And I might still be a little mad about it.
AMY: One day Ash was talking in a meeting about these egregious food crimes and suddenly everyone in the room lit up with examples of food crimes that have been perpetrated against them. I knew kids would have the same reaction, so it was a natural fit for a Pinna show.
ASH: When we developed it as a show, the courtroom parody quickly fell into place with Judge Foodie presiding over the Food Court. Then magic really started happening when we started getting food crimes from real kids.
AMY: Listeners in our kid-testing loved hearing the crimes play out as well as what the kids in the jury thought – sometimes the verdicts are super contentious. What may have started as an inside joke became a natural conversation starter that blossomed into the “Food Crimes” podcast.
MM: How did you raise awareness about this podcast?
AMY: The concept of a food crime may be hard to grasp for some until you hear examples – and then everyone has a story to tell. So, being able to demonstrate what a food crime is was our first priority when we launched the podcast. We quietly released the first episode right before Christmas with very little promotion, leaning on the tasty show art to peak our listeners’ curiosity – and it worked! Once we formally launched the podcast, we had some devoted fans who were more than eager to share their love of the podcast – and their own crimes. To date, we have relied on word of mouth and the virality of food crimes to keep kids tuning in and getting new listeners to check it out. It also helps that the podcast provides a platform for kids to get involved as both plaintiff and defendants and as jurors, making it even more appealing.
MM: Have you been surprised by its popularity?
AMY: Given that every time you tell someone what a food crime is they can instantly come up with an example – no, I’m not surprised this podcast has taken off like it has. This is a totally relatable show. We’re seeing that kids love to hear the opinions of other kids and are deeply invested in each jury’s verdict.
ASH: When we started making the pilot episode, I worried that maybe kids wouldn’t relate to the topic since I had come to it from a very adult perspective. But as soon as we started recording and we heard how quickly the kids involved in the case and the kids in the jury picked up on the concept, I felt very excited. One of the coolest things has been the international reach of the show, we’ve had participants sign up from India, Canada, England, and South Africa proving that food crimes is a prevalent issue affecting many of us!
AMY: It’s been fun to see how much parents are getting involved as well, which we hadn’t necessarily anticipated. We’ve had parents take their kids to court and vice versa, proving that Food Crimes is a great co-listening experience for families.
MM: What are some of the craziest food cases that have been brought to light via this podcast?
ASH: Lucas v Adrianne (episode 3) sticks out to me, because the brother took candy from his sister and then BROUGHT HER TO COURT! I won’t give away the verdict, but I will say it’s the case fans give us the most feedback about.
AMY: While I wouldn’t say that they’re the craziest cases, I deeply and personally connect to the cases where parents are trying to feed their kids new food, like in Jorgen v Mom (episode 2) where Mom disguised a new food as Jorgen’s favorite and he brought her to court for food fraud.
MM: How do you envision “Food Crimes” evolving and what sort of stories and themes might you like to cover in the future?
ASH: All of our stories come from our audience members, so we never know what type of case we are going to get. However, we have already started getting in some holiday-specific crimes, so for Season 2 we will be focusing on transgressions centered around celebratory meals and treats.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
ASH: We absolutely love our cast (Barron Bass, Nophi Mitchell, Marion Toro, Kevin Cutliffe, John Sartori, and Tom Aglio) and are excited to continue working with them and expanding our characters. To add to the magic, our dream of dreams would be to find a way to bring on some of our podcast heroes to guest star – Paul F Tompkins is top of that list!
Pinna, LLC is the creator of the first and only on-demand audio entertainment service developed and curated exclusively for kids 3-12. Pinna’s standalone subscription platform, with access to thousands of podcast episodes, audiobooks and songs is currently available on all iOS and Android devices including tablets and smartphones as well as via desktop browsers. After a free trial, subscriptions are available for $7.99 per month or $79.99 for an annual plan. Pinna LLC is an entertainment and media company backed by Graham Holdings, Inc. For more information visit www.pinna.fm