celebrity shopping

What Podcaster Roman Mars Can’t Live Without

Photo: Bert Johnson

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hairspray and the electric toothbrush. We asked 99% Invisible podcast host and producer Roman Mars — whose book, co-authored with Kurt Kohlstedt, The 99% Invisible City, debuts today — about the pocket squares, headphones, and popcorn he can’t live without.

I listen to podcasts all day long, so I need headphones that I don’t have to think about. I’ve tried lots of other headphones, and it just so happens that this wired pair from Apple fits me the best. With AirPods, I have to think about them: I have to charge them, I have to put them away. I wouldn’t say that these are perfectly made for everybody, but they’re perfectly made for me. It makes me think that Steve Jobs and I have the exact same size ears.

Even if you have a vice — maybe you drink a lot or smoke a lot — you usually know there’s somebody that does it worse than you. When it comes to Coke Zero, it’s possible that person is me. I think I have the worst Coke Zero habit in the world. It has the right combination of being sweet and acidic, and I just drink so much of it. Conservatively, eight a day. The first one is at 8 a.m. — it’s coffee. I don’t normally eat breakfast, but I’ll have two Coke Zeros before lunch.

I’ve worn some variety of boots, like Dr. Martens and combat boots, since I was 14 years old. These are the adult version of such boots. I wear them every day with jeans, but I also wear them with fancy clothes. I always wear boots with a suit. I don’t feel comfortable in a loafer. When you’ve worn lace-up boots your entire life, it feels really weird to wear shoes that don’t have structure. My brain is always on guard — What if there’s a fight? What if I have to run some place? and these boots help me be alert.

It wasn’t until I was about 40 that they started making stretchy men’s jeans that are cut like women’s jeans. I was delighted by this, so when I found these Paige Jeans — which feel good and fit my body — I got multiples of them. I’m not a Zuckerberg “wear the same thing every day because I don’t like to think” kind of person. But when I find something I like, I’m all-in. I have at least two pairs of these Paige Jeans; I’m wearing one of them now. I’ve been getting fully dressed during quarantine — it’s very rare for me not to. I won’t go quite as far as putting shoes on if I’m at home, but I do wear these jeans and a belt and a shirt.

Sol Food is this Puerto Rican restaurant in the Bay Area, and everything on the menu is fantastic. I usually just get chicken with rice, but I cover the plate in this hot sauce to the point that it’s basically like soup. I buy the hot sauce by the bottle and bring it home. For me, it’s the MVP of quarantine — it has made my home cooking so much better. I cook and eat a lot of rice, and I can just pour this hot sauce on rice and that’s a meal. But I put it on everything that isn’t sweet, basically. It’s light and vinegary and not too hot. I promise you’ll be satisfied, because it tastes that good.