Published: December 4, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and once again the news is filled with stories of rowdy crowds and brawling mobs. The scene of the crime? Your friendly neighborhood shopping mall. The holiday season is notorious for bringing out the beast in shoppers, and this year is no exception. As fights break out in food courts and Wal-Marts double up on security staff, we’ve been wondering when and how our national obsession with buying stuff began.

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys jump headlong into the history of shopping in America—the glitz and glamor, the overflowing shelves, and the cheesy Muzak. They’ll consider the role consumption played in the revolutionary politics of the colonies, look at the curious rash of shoplifting among well-heeled women in the country’s first department stores, and reveal the connection between the Wizard of Oz and window shopping.