Object of the Week

The Hottest New Pasta Shape Was Born From a Podcast

Bucatini is so 2020

Rob Walker
Published in
4 min readMar 25, 2021
Enlarged view of a new type of pasta called “cascatelli.” The pasta has a U-shape with a ribbed outer edge.
Photo illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Scott Gordon Bleicher/Dan Pashman

Object of the Week is a column exploring the objects a culture obsesses over and what that reveals about us.

The 21st century has been a time of constant technical innovation — and a time for ridiculously overthinking food. These seemingly unrelated meta-trends have now coalesced in cascatelli, a brand new and meticulously engineered pasta devised over a period of three years by the host of the popular food podcast, The Sporkful.

Naturally, it’s a hit. In the first week of its formal unveiling to the public, the novel noodle has been hyped everywhere from Today to Eater to NPR to the design blog Core77. You can order some here — a pack of four one-pound boxes goes for $17.99 — but thanks to boiling demand you’ll have to wait at least eight to 10 weeks.

Like many contemporary innovations, cascatelli was created as a result of dissatisfaction with something that was actually perfectly fine: in this case, all extant pasta. Dismissing spaghetti, for instance, Sporkful host and creator Dan Pashman informed one interviewer that: “It’s just a tube.” To fight back against this supposed problem, he envisioned a pasta influenced by his favorite pasta elements, notably the “ruffles” of mafalde noodles, and the hollow center of bucatini (a noodle with its own fanatic following).

Crucially, Pashman made clear from the outset that he did not want to create a mere gimmick, but rather something that could plausibly join the pasta canon.

Crucially, Pashman had a specific set of criteria for judging pasta shapes in general, and thus his dream shape in particular. These are sauceability (how sauce adheres to the shape), forkability (ease of getting and keeping the pasta on a fork), and toothsinkability (how good the pasta feels to bite into). Everybody loves a set of comprehensible guidelines that they can debate. Surely one of the things that has made cascatelli an online hit is the endlessly reproduced schematics treating the pasta like the technically engineered object that it is — illustrating how its “trough” element boosts…



Rob Walker

Author The Art of Noticing. Related newsletter at https://robwalker.substack.com