Today’s debate stars two sweet and sunny plants that will surely make you smile. So stop a while and take in this fragrant debate– it’s roses vs. sunflowers! In one corner we’ve got editor and Brains On! co-creator Sanden Totten repping radiant roses. In the other, it’s writer and performer John Ross here to sing the praises of sweet, sweet sunflowers! Which team will be crowned smash bloom best?

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As an added bonus, your Smarty Pass will grant you access to a super special debate starring Sanden and Molly!

Audio Transcript

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SUBJECT: From the brains behind Brains On! It's Smash, Boom, Best.

SUBJECT: The show for people with big opinions.

MOLLY: Hi. I'm Molly Bloom, and this is Smash, Boom, Best, the show where we take two things, smash them together, and ask you to decide which one is best. Today's debate stars two sweet and sunny plants that will surely make you smile. So stop a while and take in this fragrant debate. It's roses versus sunflowers. Here to defend roses, we've got editor and Brains On! co-creator, Sanden Totten.

SANDEN: Hey, everybody. I'm here to do my smash, bloom, best, and be a thorn in the side of sunflowers.

MOLLY: And we've got writer and performer, John Ross, here to sing the praises of sweet, sweet sunflowers.

JOHN: Roses are fine, violets are, too. The best of the harvest, sunflowers, dude!


MOLLY: And finally, here to judge it all is Caden from Saint Paul, Minnesota. Caden has a concerning number of houseplants, owns a turntable, loves talking philosophy, and coaches middle school debate. Hi, Caden.


MOLLY: So, Caden, I would love to hear a little bit about your houseplants. What is a concerning number, would you say?

CADEN: Ooh. OK. I would say, in general, I feel like anything more than 20 per room puts you in the concerning territory. And I'm definitely significantly over that in my room.

MOLLY: That's incredible.

CADEN: Yeah.

MOLLY: So how many are in your room?

CADEN: OK, let's see. 4, 6, 7, 8.

MOLLY: Oh my gosh.

CADEN: 28.


CADEN: I have 28 plants in my--


CADEN: I will say that's slightly cheating, though, because one of them is a big herb tray, and I'm counting each individual herb.

MOLLY: That's OK, though. They're each a separate plant.

CADEN: Yeah, they're each their own plant.

JOHN: You have to take care of them individually.

MOLLY: Yeah.

CADEN: That's what I'm saying. Yeah.

MOLLY: I love an herb garden.

CADEN: Yeah.

MOLLY: Useful.

CADEN: Exactly.

MOLLY: Smells great. Beautiful.

CADEN: That's what I'm saying.

MOLLY: You also have a garden with your dad. So I'm wondering, what are your favorite things to grow?

CADEN: I'm not actually a tomato person, but my dad is, like, a religious tomato person. He has the same sandwich that he's been eating every single day for the last 32 years.


CADEN: And a big part of it is a really thick slice of an heirloom tomato. So we have to have heirloom tomatoes. Beyond that, ooh, peppers. We grew a big batch of jalapenos this year and pickled a lot of them when we couldn't use them anymore. That with a little bit of cream cheese on literally cardboard would taste delicious.

MOLLY: [LAUGHS] Ah, Caden, I think you need a gardening podcast? I could listen to you talking about this all day.

We love to hear it. Will Caden a root for roses or sunflowers? There's no telling. Caden, are you ready to judge this thing?

CADEN: Absolutely.

MOLLY: Awesome. Before we get into this debate, it's time to review the rules of the game. Every debate consists of four rounds of debate, the Declaration of Greatness, the Micro-Round, the Sneak Attack, and The Final Six. After each round, our judge, Caden, will award points to the team that impresses them the most. But they'll keep their decisions top secret until the end of the debate.

Listeners, we want you to judge, too. Mark down your points as you listen. At the end of the show, head to our website,, and vote for whichever team you think won. All right, John, Sanden, and Caden, are you ready?

CADEN: Absolutely!

JOHN: Yeah.

CADEN: I was born ready.

MOLLY: Then it's time for the Declaration of Greatness.

In this round, our debaters will present a well-crafted passionate argument in favor of their side. Then they'll each have 30 seconds to rebut their opponent's statements. We flipped a coin, and Sanden, you're up first. Tell us why roses are the most radiant flower.

SANDEN: Roses are the best because-- no, um. Oh, the reason roses rule is-- hmm. Roses are red, sunflowers are yellow. Roses are pretty and have a nice smell. Oh. Ugh, I'm stuck. Oh, I know. I'll get some help from that new artificially intelligent online chat bot, Smash GPT.


CHATBOT: Hello. How can I help you?

SANDEN: OK. Let's just test it out to make sure it works. Hey, chatbot, who is the best debater of all time?

CHATBOT: Many believe Socrates is the most--

SANDEN: Eh, wrong. It's me. Strike one. OK. Now give me a reason roses are better than sunflowers.

CHATBOT: Roses and sunflowers are both beloved. Which is better as a matter of personal preference.

SANDEN: That's not an argument.

CHATBOT: I am programmed merely to present information.

SANDEN: Boo! Look, your first argument should be, roses are way prettier than sunflowers. Some are deep red or bright pink. Others are orange like a sunset or yellow like butter. They can be striped like peppermint candy or even black for the moody emo kids of the world.

Some have just a few petals, and others have so many they look like a cheerleader's pom-poms. Oh, and the smell. Sweet or fruity, some even smell like pumpkin pie. No wonder roses are the backbone of the perfume world. If you made a perfume from sunflowers, you just smell like a washed up minor league baseball player. Boom! That's an argument.

CHATBOT: I see. Here is a rose fact. Roses were so popular in the 1600s that some royalty used them as money.

SANDEN: Hm. Makes sense. Roses have so many uses. Many ancient people used rose oil as medicine. And even today, research suggests it might help fight pain and boost your mood. Rose water has a long history in skincare, and it's used in desserts around the world. Plus, rose hips, you know, the bulb that forms after roses are pollinated, they're higher in vitamin C than oranges.

CHATBOT: True. During World War II, Europeans facing food shortages ate rose hips to help fight scurvy. Hey, would you like to hear a rose joke?


CHATBOT: Why did the rose cross the road?


CHATBOT: To get to the other bouquet.


SANDEN: Eh, don't quit your day job.

CHATBOT: This is my day job.

SANDEN: Oof. Sorry. Hey, how about you tell me a cool story about roses?

CHATBOT: Roses are featured in many stories, from Alice in Wonderland to Beauty and the Beast.

SANDEN: No. No, about roses. Like this, it's a true story. Once upon a time, roses only bloomed once a year. But then, almost 2000 years ago, something miraculous happened. Someone in China noticed a rosebush that flowered again, and again, and again.

SUBJECT: Dude! This bush is lit! Popping new blooms every week.

SUBJECT: I know. It can't stop, won't stop blooming.

SANDEN: It was probably just from some random genetic mutation. But this magic mutant rosebush was about to change the world.

SUBJECT: Yo, if we breed this bush, we could grow roses all summer long.

SUBJECT: Tight. We'd have serious rose swag. Let's do it.

SANDEN: Over time, gardeners grew lots of plants from this one rosebush. Then they bred it with other roses and traded it around the world. Today, if you see a rosebush, it's probably related to that one strange, special bush from China.

CHATBOT: That is awesome.

SANDEN: I know. But the thing I love most about roses, I think, is how they teach us about life-- that it's full of thorns but also beautiful blooms. We say "stop and smell the roses" as a way to remind ourselves to enjoy the simple pleasures. And seeing a rose in full bloom, feeding the bees, swaying in the breeze and looking great, well, that's one of the best pleasures life has to offer.

CHATBOT: I am so moved. If I had eyes, they'd be tearing up. Roses are definitely cooler than sunflowers.

SANDEN: Thanks. Now, if only you could help me come up with some arguments to prove it.

CHATBOT: I just did.

SANDEN: Wait. You did!

CHATBOT: My work here is done. Goodbye.


MOLLY: Well, that argument definitely has me looking through rose-colored glasses. Caden, what stood out to you about Sanden's declaration of greatness?

CADEN: I feel like I love the structure of it. There was a lot of variety of arguments. The story and the different voices, that was awesome. Love to hear it. Also, you know, some cool history and facts alongside of it.

MOLLY: Definitely loved hearing the phrase beautiful bloom as a Molly Bloom, you know? Good for my ego. All right. John, it's time for your rebuttal. You've got 30 seconds to prove why roses are prickly party poopers. And your time starts now.

JOHN: Frankly, party poopers is correct. Roses have thorns. And no one wants to touch a flower that's got thorns. Would I have to risk hurting my hand just to hold something beautiful that doesn't even really smell that good? It's got like a basic scent. General flower? I mean, come on. They say stop and smell the roses because it's so common to happen. You can eat the base of a rose, but you can eat the seeds of a sunflower, and they're way more nutritious.

MOLLY: And time.

SANDEN: Oh. Oh, more nutritious? The vitamin C content of roses is off the charts, let me just tell you.

JOHN: One vitamin, one.

SANDEN: The most important vitamin. What other the vitamin has any shine? It's all vitamin C.

CADEN: I don't want scurvy.

MOLLY: Yeah. Scurvy is not great. All right. It is your turn, John. Help us "seed" why sunflowers are spectacular.

JOHN: OK. So in The Wizard of Oz, there's this famous scene where Dorothy and her friends walk into a field of red poppies and most of them fall into a deep sleep.


The poppies are a trap set by the Wicked Witch of the West who wants to stop them from grooving on down the yellow brick road. But just imagine what it would have been like if those poppies were sunflowers.

DOROTHY: Look, Toto, a beautiful field of sunflowers. I feel like we are in Kansas again.


There really is no place like home.

JOHN: Yes. Sunflowers feel like home, and not only because they're the Kansas state flower.


They really are, Toto. And sunflowers aren't just beautiful on the outside, they're beautiful on the inside, too. For one, sunflower seeds are delicious and wildly nutritious. They're packed with fiber, vitamin E, and immune boosting antioxidants. They fill Dorothy and her friends as they ease on down, ease on down the road. Plus, you can squeeze the oil out of sunflower seeds and use it for cooking and moisturizing your skin.

DOROTHY: Hey, Tin Man. I wonder if this sunflower oil will stop your arms and legs from creaking so much.


TIN MAN: Let's try it. I'm due for an oil change soon anyway.

DOROTHY: There you go. Good as new. Wait. I thought we had a whole bag of sunflower seeds in here. Scarecrow, did you eat them all?

SCARECROW: I can't help it. These seeds are so nutty and yummy. And it's fun spitting out the shells.


JOHN: Another reason sunflowers are number one is because they're tough, unlike roses which are thorny, and fussy, and sometimes struggle if it's too humid or too cold. Sunflowers can handle almost anything. They're the John Cenas of the plant world, or more like the John Seed-nas, am I right?


ANNOUNCER: In this corner, we have the golden goddess herself. The unbeatable, the edible, sunflower. This beautiful burly blossom can live in soil that's soaking wet or extremely dry.


And in this corner, we have a fragile, wilted rosebush.


JOHN: Sunflowers have another superpower. They can clean up toxic soil, and I mean very toxic. People have even used them to clean up nuclear waste sites. Sunflowers are like nature's vacuums-- sucking radioactive contamination and heavy metals out of the ground.

And get this, sunflowers are a North American original. Indigenous people grew them more than 4,000 years ago in what is now Mexico. Across North America, Indigenous tribes harvested the seeds and roots for food. Plus, they were the first ones to press the sunflower seeds for cooking oil. They also made medicines from the roots to treat everything from chest pains, to swelling, to snake bites.


ANNOUNCER: Sunflowers! They're a medical marvel, folks. Is there anything they can't do?



JOHN: So sunflowers were already a big deal in North America. But then, about 500 years ago, Spanish explorers brought these bewitching blossoms back with them to Europe. And that's how they became a worldwide favorite, especially in Russia and Ukraine which grow more sunflowers than anywhere else in the world.

But my biggest reason for boasting about sunflowers is that they're my wife's favorite flower.

ALL: Aw.

JOHN: And really, it makes sense, because some flowers have come to symbolize love and adoration, which is how I feel about my wife. They get that reputation because as they grow, sunflowers move to face the sun. It's called heliotropism. But to me, it looks like their suntanning their faces or worshiping the sun.


DOROTHY: Hey, Jonathan. Sorry to interrupt, but I think it's time for us to put the pedal to the metal and ease on down the road before the witch starts stalking us again.

JOHN: Oh. Of course. Thanks for stopping by, Dorothy. And great shoes, by the way.

DOROTHY: They were a gift. See you. And I'll be rooting for sunflowers.

JOHN: Nice group of friends. Hope they don't run into any trouble.

MOLLY: Well, a heartfelt declaration for the hearty and heroic sunflower. Caden, what stood out to you about John's argument?

CADEN: I felt like it was really loaded with facts and, like, historical information. I feel like I know a lot about sunflowers coming off of that.

MOLLY: Definitely.

CADEN: Like, I didn't-- I had no clue that it was super popular in Russia and Ukraine or the fact that it came from Mexico. Super fun. Also the comparison to the wife. Amazing. Lovely. Adorable.

MOLLY: Very sweet. All right, Sanden, it's time for your rebuttal.

SANDEN: Oh, I am so ready. I feel like there was some Rosa slander in there that I--


--I'm about to correct. Cracking knuckles.

MOLLY: OK. Well, you've only got 30 seconds to prove that sunflowers aren't so sunny after all. And your time starts now.

SANDEN: OK. I hate to come after a fellow flower, because I love all things the bloom, but, you know, you forced me to do it, and also, it's the rules. So--


SANDEN: Sunflowers Are actually something called allelopathic, which means they actually seep out harmful chemicals into the soil that hurt other plants. Talk about a dour flower. Also, there looks, eh, just not that pretty. You know that book in middle school you read, Sarah, Plain and Tall, it's like sunflowers-- yellow, plain, and tall. Ho-hum.

Roses, weak? Come off it. They are some of the hardiest plants out there.

MOLLY: And--

SANDEN: More on that in the next round.

MOLLY: --time.

SANDEN: But I just want to say that--

MOLLY: Time.

SANDEN: Got to check your facts because roses--

MOLLY: Time.

SANDEN: --are super strong plants.

JOHN: You know, I, uh, I'm going to let this next round speak for itself, because, yeah. I'm feeling pretty good.

MOLLY: Wonderful. All right. Well, Caden, it is time to award some points. Give one point to the Declaration of Greatness you liked best and one point to the rebuttal that won you over. You get to decide what criteria you use to judge. Maybe you were taken with one team's jokes, or maybe someone stunned you with their facts. Award your points, but don't tell us who they're going to. Both could go to the same debater or each debater could get a point. Have you made your decision?

CADEN: Yes, I have.


MOLLY: Ooh. Caden was deep in thought. All right, Sanden and John, how are you two feeling so far?

JOHN: Feeling pretty good. I'm feeling pretty good.

SANDEN: Mm. I was a little pricked by some of the arguments there, but, you know what, I'm just going to-- I'm going to shake it off.

CADEN: I should have mentioned this at the start. I'm swayed by puns.

MOLLY: It's a good thing you're the judge of this show, because--

CADEN: Oh, yeah.

MOLLY: --we got a lot of them.

CADEN: I'm loving it so far.

MOLLY: All right. Well take a moment to stop and smell the roses or snack on some sunflower seeds.

CADEN: And we'll be right back with more Smash, Boom, Best.

SUBJECT: You're watching a State of Debate, home to rage in rhetoric and awe-inspiring argumentation.

TAYLOR: Ding dong, debaters. Taylor Lincoln here with my number one debate dude, Todd Douglas.

TODD: Hey there, Tay-Tay. Guess what this cat dragged in.

TAYLOR: A logical fallacy?

TODD: Bingo. A logical fallacy is a debate don't that makes your argument weaker than the mayor of weak-argument-opolis. This one is called an appeal to nature.

TAYLOR: An appeal to nature fallacy is when you argue something must be right or true because it's, quote, unquote, "natural."

TODD: Some silly stuff. Here, let me serve this one up au naturale.

SUBJECT: Pippa! Your grandparents just got here. Come say hello.

SUBJECT: Coming.

SUBJECT: Uh-oh, you're naked.

SUBJECT: Uh-huh.

SUBJECT: You need to put on some clothes, sweetie.

SUBJECT: It's more natural for me to be naked. I was born this way.

SUBJECT: Sorry, but it's time for clothes. Why don't you put on that nice dress grandma got you.

SUBJECT: Animals are naked, too.

SUBJECT: Please go upstairs and put something on.

SUBJECT: No, no, no, no, no. Clothing is not natural.


TAYLOR: Oh, golly. Sometimes it can be a chore getting dressed in the morning. Pippa's argument is not quite working.

TODD: Yeah. Just because she was born in the buff doesn't mean that's the way it's always got to be. Clothing is important to wear sometimes.

TAYLOR: Especially when you've got company. Speaking of, my grandparents are going to be here any minute.

TODD: Pop pop and Grammy? Yay! I love them.

TAYLOR: Aw, me too. And I baked grandma an apple rhubarb pie.

TODD: Yum. OK, catch you later, debate heads on State of Debate.

SUBJECT: Smash, boom, best.

MOLLY: You're listening to Smash, Boom, Best. I'm your host, Molly Bloom.

CADEN: And I'm your judge, Caden.

MOLLY: And we love getting debate suggestions from our listeners. Take a listen to this ferocious debate idea from Maddox in Pennsylvania.

MADDOX: My debate idea is, dragons versus dinosaurs.

CADEN: Sounds like a roaring good time.

MOLLY: We'll check back with Maddox at the end of this episode to see which side he thinks should win.

CADEN: And now it's back to today's debate, roses versus sunflowers.

MOLLY: That's right. And it's time for round two, the Micro-Round. For the Micro-Round challenge, each team has prepared a creative response to a prompt they received in advance. And Sanden and John's prompt was, acceptance speech.

For this challenge, Sanden and Jon had to imagine that their side won a special award, and then write an acceptance speech for their side. Sanden went first last time. So John, you're up. Let's hear your sunny take on saying thank you.


JOHN: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so very much. Wow. I can't believe it. Little old me? Sun-tastic yellow sunflower is the most fabulous flower of the year at the annual petal power convention? Wow. This is a big win for all of us little sunflowers out here, but also for all sunflowers big and small. Sunflowers got the power.

We are symbols of love and adoration. We produce tasty seeds. We even help heal the Earth. Sunny friends, this award goes out to you. Hold on. I gotta name check all you blooming beauties. American Giant, you're ahead above the rest. One of the tallest sunflowers out there. Russian Mammoth, your giant flower heads are an annual sensation. Sundance Kid, your yellow and red petals put the pedal to the metal.

OK. OK. Velvet Queen, you're a dream. Ring of Fire, you never tire. Look at you out there removing toxins from the soil. I mean, wow! Oh! And Sunzilla, you skyscraper, seed-purveying beauty, wow! There are so many of us. Soraya, Moulin Rouge, Teddy Bear-- with the cutest name-- Chianti. Ah! Oh, I'm out of time. Y'all are the best. Sunflowers, we all got the power. Keep on believing.

I'm getting danced off by Torinia the clown flower. OK. OK. I don't want to overstay my welcome. Y'all have a good night. And thank you so much.

MOLLY: Wow. So many sunflowers to thank. Got played off the stage. That's so generous. Very nice work, John. Sanden, it's your turn. Let's hear your side blossom on stage.


SUBJECT: And now, winner of the tough as nails award, it's roses.


SANDEN: Oh, wow. I'm so honored. You all look past my delicate beautiful blossoms and saw the real me, a survivor. Not to toot my own thorn, but roses are incredibly strong. We've been bred to be pest-resistant, cold-resistant, heat-resistant, drought-resistant, and of course, yawn-resistant because we're anything but boring.


Other plants, like sunflowers, rely on their height to thrive. But us roses, we're climbers. We can scale walls, trellises, even other plants. And look, we're lovers not fighters. But if you come for us, we've got thorns, and we're not afraid to use them. In fact those, prickles keep animals like deer from chewing us down. Instead, they just eat our rose hips, swallow the seeds, and poop them out somewhere else, helping us grow in new places. Turning a pile of poop into a blossoming beauty? That's just how we roll.

Plus, you can pluck a rosebush from the soil, send it across the world with no water, plant it again, and ka-bloom, it'll still grow. Pluck a sunflower and you just have six feet of compost.


So, thank you for recognizing that we're more than just pretty petals. We're beauty and brawn.


MOLLY: Excellent work there from team rose. Caden, what stood out to you about those two micro-rounds?

CADEN: I felt like the first micro-round, it was really truly giving me like acceptance speech vibes. I feel like the endless list of people to thank-- like, that feels very realistic. I think the second one, the music was kind of my favorite part. I can't even lie. I loved it. It was really good.

Also, you know, the choice of what award to be receiving, I feel like that was very on theme. I caught some good puns.

JOHN: That music, actually, it's called heavy petal music.

CADEN: Whoa! Oh. I love it.

JOHN: Wow. Wow.

MOLLY: That was a good one.

SANDEN: Oh, I could do this all day.

MOLLY: Well, Caden, it's time to award a point, but don't tell us who it's going to. Again, the criteria are up to you. Did someone win you over with facts? Did they make you laugh? Did they make you think? It's up to you. Have you made your decision?

CADEN: Absolutely.


MOLLY: Fantastic. Then it's time for our third around, the super stealthy Sneak Attack.

This is our improv round where debaters have to respond to a challenge on the spot. And today's Sneak Attack is genre replay. For this challenge, we want you to come up with one glorious sentence making a case for your side. That's the first step. Then, we'll give you three different genres, and you'll say that same sentence again in each genre. Jonathan and Sanden, does that make sense?


JOHN: Yeah, I think I got it.

MOLLY: All right. John went first last time. So, Sanden, you're going to start. To begin, let's just hear your plain old sentence hyping radiant roses.



Roses have thorns because life is hard, but they have glorious blooms because life's also worth experiencing true beauty.

MOLLY: Wonderful.

JOHN: Good one.

MOLLY: And now let's hear it in a Western style.



Dun, dun, dun, dun. Hey, pardner. Roses have thorns because life is hard, but they also have them glorious blooms because it's worth it to experience true beauty.

MOLLY: Oh, wonderful. All right. Now we've got sci-fi horror.


OK. Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.


Roses! They have thorns because life is hard. True, but they have glorious blooms because it's also worth it to experience true beauty.


I don't know what happened in the end there. I have to see the rest of the movie.


MOLLY: All right. Finally, let's hear your sentence in the style of Shakespearean drama.

SANDEN: Oh. Shakespearean drama. OK. For a minute there, I thought you said Shakespearean cop drama, which is cool. But, like, your regular Shakespearean drama is cool, too. OK.

Roses have thorns because life is hard, but they have glorious blooms because it's also worth it to experience true beauty.



MOLLY: Oh. Beautiful. Beautiful. Lovely.

SANDEN: I swooned over my [INAUDIBLE]

MOLLY: Too bad it's a podcast. Oh, man. All right. Jonathan, you are up. So first, let's just hear your plain sentence for sublime sunflowers.

JOHN: My plain sentence is, sunflowers are the nutritious multi-tool plant you always wanted.

MOLLY: Delightful. All right. Now your first genre is 1940s film noir.


JOHN: Well, darling, sunflowers are the nutritious multi-tool plant that you always wanted.

MOLLY: Yes, I can see that detective sitting in his desk.

CADEN: Mm-hmm.

MOLLY: All right. Next up, action flick.

JOHN: Sunflowers are the nutritious multitool plant you always wanted.



MOLLY: I love that. Definitely a new catchphrase. All right. And finally, a sappy romance.

JOHN: You know, I always thought that sunflowers' the nutritious multi-tool plant that you always wanted.

MOLLY: Aw! I really felt the heart in that one. Oh. OK. Caden, it's going to be a tough one to judge. But think about which side impressed you the most and award your fourth point. But, again, please do not tell us who you're giving it to. Have you made your decision?

CADEN: Indeed, I have.


MOLLY: Perfect. Then it's time for our final around, The Final Six. In this round, each team will have just six words to sum up the glory of their side. All right, John, tell us why sunflowers are superb.

JOHN: Super utility nutritious sunflowers are great.

MOLLY: Very nice. Now, Sanden, your turn. Let's hear six words that will make us be-leaf that roses--


MOLLY: --are tops.

SANDEN: Oh. OK. Perfect little explosions of joy, roses.

MOLLY: Mm. Lovely. All right. Caden, it is time to award a final point. So have you made your decision for that final round?

CADEN: I have.


MOLLY: Awesome. Are you ready to crown one team the smash, boom, best?

CADEN: Indeed, I am.

MOLLY: Drum roll please.


The winner is.

CADEN: Sunflowers!


JOHN: Woo!


JOHN: It was close.

SANDEN: I'm wilting.

JOHN: It was close. I could feel it. Had to be close.

SANDEN: The tears are falling like so many petals from my eyes.

MOLLY: Aw. Amazing. Caden, was there a moment that decided things for you?

CADEN: I'm not going to lie, it was completely tied up until the final one. It came down to the six.

SANDEN: Oh no!

MOLLY: Wow. This was a very close debate.

CADEN: Indeed. It really, really--

SANDEN: Caden, I though we had a budding relationship, but it turns out it was dead on the vine.

CADEN: Please don't take it personal.

MOLLY: No. This was a hard fought debate. I understand that it was so close because these two wonderful debaters did such a great job. Very, very close.

JOHN: Sanden, I learned that roses actually are pretty tough. I had a real preconceived notion that they were not as tough as they are, and that they contain a lot of vitamin C. I didn't know that. I was very nervous when that fact was dropped. I was like, that could decide-- I was on my side until that point. So, you got me there.


JOHN: You got me there. I thought I was going on puns alone. I was like, he's got me on puns. You got me.

SANDEN: Aw, thanks. Yeah, John, this was-- I love every flower. I'm a big flower stan, and sunflowers are no exception. You did a great job repping one of the tallest beauties of the plant world. Brought a lot of great information. I did not know their history, their origins. And when I see a sunflower, I'll give it a little wink and think of you.


MOLLY: Well, that's it for today's debate battle. Caden crowned sunflowers the smash, boom, best, but what about you?

CADEN: Head to and vote to tell us who you think won.

MOLLY: Smash, Boom, Best is brought to you by Brains On! and APM Studios.

SANDEN: It is produced by Molly Bloom, Rose Dupont, Ruby Guthrie, and [INAUDIBLE]

MOLLY: We had engineering help from Gary O'Keefe and Jess Berg, with sound design by Rachel Brees.

JOHN: Our editor is Shahla Farzan.

SANDEN: And we had production help from Mark Sanchez, Anna Weggel, and Nico Gonzalez Wisler.

MOLLY: Our executive producer is Beth Perlman. And the APM Studios executives in charge are Chandra Kavati, Alex Schaffert, and Joanne Griffith. Our announcer is Marley Feuerweker-Otto and we want to give a special thanks to Lulu, Brandt Miller, Austin Cross, and Taylor Kaufman.

John, is there anyone you'd like to give a shout out to today?

JOHN: Absolutely. My sunflower queen, Lenay Sanders.

MOLLY: Lovely. And how about you, dear Sanden, any special shoutouts?

SANDEN: Yeah. I'd like to say a huge shout out to Tom Caruth from the Huntington Arboretum who gave me tons of rose facts for this. And a little shoutout to all the rows bushes in my garden. What's up, cuties? I'll be seeing you bloom soon.


MOLLY: And Caden, what about you, any special thanks?

CADEN: Yeah. Thanks to the Minnesota Urban Debate League for putting me in the position to be able to judge here today. And awesome thanks to my fellow debate coach and partner Maren for teaching me all that I know.

MOLLY: Oh, lovely. Before we go, let's check in with Maddox and see who he thinks should win his dragons versus dinosaurs debates.

MADDOX: My winners would be dragons because they can blow fire and do surprise attacks.

MOLLY: Can't argue with that. Do you have an idea for a knockdown drag out debate? Head to and tell us about it. We'll be back with a new debate battle next week. Bye-bye.


JOHN: Bye!

SUBJECT (SINGING): Ooh, you're the smash, boom, best. Ooh, put you through the test. Ooh, you're the smash, boom, best. Ooh, better than the rest. It's the smash, boom, best. It's the smash, boom, best.

SANDEN: Why are sunflowers so tall? You know, what are they hiding up there? I like a flower that'll look you in the eye. I don't want a sunflower looking down at the top of my head, judging my part.

MOLLY: Your part!


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