John Roderick is the musician and podcaster from Seattle who dominated Twitter when he documented his young daughter’s six-hour struggle to learn how to open a can of baked beans. The term “bean dad” was trending on social media and Google as readers reacted to the 23-tweet saga.
While there have been some commenters who defended Roderick’s teaching style, the majority of the responses shared on Twitter have been critical. Many expressed concern that his daughter had been hungry during the six-hour ordeal and slammed Roderick for allowing the child to become frustrated to the point where she was crying.
Roderick at first embraced the notoriety. He updated his Twitter bio to include, “Bean Dad since 2021.” But he has since deleted the account, as well as his Instagram profile.
On January 5, Roderick published an apology on his website in which he addressed both the can opener story and past tweets that included slurs and violent language as “insensitive.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Roderick Originally Wrote He Was Trying to Teach His Daughter Perseverance But Has Since Described the Tone of the Can Opener Story as ‘Insensitive’
Roderick explained on Twitter that the saga began on January 1 when his 9-year-old daughter told him she was hungry as he was working on a jigsaw puzzle. He suggested she “make some baked beans” and instructed her to “Open a can and put it in a pot.” The child brought him the can and asked him how to get it open.
Roderick wrote that it quickly dawned on him that he had never taught his daughter how to use a can opener. “What kind of apocalypse father doesn’t teach his kid how to use a manual can opener?!?” But rather than demonstrate or offer a verbal explanation, Roderick encouraged his daughter to try to figure it out for herself.
Roderick turned his attention back to the jigsaw puzzle as his daughter was “grunting and groaning trying to get the thing” before she eventually “collapsed in a frustrated heap.” Roderick said he then tried to guide his daughter along after realizing she had figured out how part of the can opener worked but was stuck on the “clamping step.”
But his daughter instead told him, “I hate you” before declaring, “I don’t want baked beans.” Roderick wrote as motivation, he told his daughter, “Sweetheart, neither of us will eat another bite today until we get into this can of beans.” She screamed and took a break from the can opener for a while.
The child eventually returned to the can opener and kept trying. As the Twitter thread continued, Roderick detailed his daughter’s efforts and eventually realized that even if she figured out the correct technique, it was possible the can opener might still not work. He wrote, “I’d forgotten how finicky the tool really is, particularly when it comes to the puncture. She had it all lined up! But the cutting wheel is a little wobbly (by design) and you have to really get on top of it to clamp it down. You know the feeling? You can misfire the damn thing!”
But as Roderick wrote, his daughter did finally get the can of baked beans open and triumphantly carried it to the kitchen. Roderick said he congratulated his daughter by “standing perfectly at attention, saluting her effort and ingenuity.”
Roderick wrapped up the Twitter thread by acknowledging that his parenting style could be “infuriating” but that he looked forward to referencing the can opener incident as a metaphor for other lessons in his daughter’s life: “I’m proud of her too. I know I’m infuriating. I know this is parenting theater in some ways. I suffer from a lack of perseverance myself, and like all parents throughout history I’m trying to correct my own mistakes in the way I educate my child. She sees through this. The Swing-a-Way can opener is a little voodoo doll for us now. It will reappear as an allegory many more times in her life, you can be sure. She knows this too. But this is an allegory of triumph. I wish I had more of those for myself. I wish I had more stories like this.”
In the final tweet in the thread, Roderick joked, “The only problem is now she wants to open every f****** can in the house!”
Roderick has since apologized for the can opener story. On his website, Roderick wrote that he didn’t appreciate that many readers would not be familiar with his brand of humor. He wrote in part:
My story about my daughter and the can of beans was poorly told. I didn’t share how much laughing we were doing, how we had a bowl of pistachios between us all day as we worked on the problem, or that we’d both had a full breakfast together a few hours before. Her mother was in the room with us all day and alternately laughing at us and telling us to be quiet while she worked on her laptop. We all took turns on the jigsaw puzzle.
I framed the story with me as the asshole dad because that’s my comedic persona and my fans and friends know it’s “a bit”.
What I didn’t understand when posting that story, was that a lot of the language I used reminded people very viscerally of abuse they’d experienced at the hand of a parent. The idea that I would withhold food from her, or force her to solve a puzzle while she cried, or bind her to the task for hours without a break all were images of child abuse that affected many people very deeply. Rereading my story, I can see what I’d done.
I was ignorant, insensitive to the message that my “pedant dad” comedic persona was indistinguishable from how abusive dads act, talk and think.
2. Roderick Initially Said He Found it ‘Astonishing’ That Some Twitter Users Accused Him of Child Abuse
Roderick’s lengthy Twitter thread quickly attracted a lot of attention from critics who felt he had taken the lesson too far. A common concern was that the child had been too hungry. @a_queer_ius questioned, “All I’m hearing is ‘that time I told my dad I was hungry and he wouldn’t let me eat for another six hours for no good reason.’ Like… did you ever go through that as a kid? You go too long hungry and you just feel sick and like you might pass out? No? Then don’t do it to the kid.”
Roderick responded by offering reassurance that his 9-year-old daughter had not been starving. “Six hours. Not six days. She had a full breakfast.”
@AlfieJapanorama made the argument that Roderick should have used a different method and actually taught his daughter how to use the can opener. “‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he will eat forever.’ That’s how I remember it. Not…. ‘…throw the fishing-rod on the floor & expect the man to teach himself how to fish…..'” Another Twitter user, @nnamrak, defended Roderick by responding that the lesson had more to do with finding a solution when presented with a problem. “Yeah, but that’s actually a very good skill to learn: to figure out a tool by yourself. It’s actually the core of problem-solving. It’s important because you won’t always in your life have someone around to show you stuff.”
@apoxon identified herself as a teacher and argued that “When a child is frustrated to the point of tears, you’ve lost your teachable moment.”
@stephenablack was among the critics to accuse Roderick of child abuse. “He’s abusive. He delights in the power he wields over his child, who he notes has problems with ‘spatial orientation, process visualization, and order of operation.’ Like so many abusers, he sees the harm but is unmoved, believing ‘I’m doing this for your own good.'”
@timaree_leigh remarked that Roderick might regret this particular teaching method down the road. “As someone raised by similar parents: Congrats on teaching your daughter that she doesn’t need you. It’ll make her super self reliant and it’ll be a lot easier for her to cut you out entirely as an adult if you continue to be callous and unsupportive.”
Roderick initially dismissed the criticism. He argued in a later tweet that those bashing him did not follow him on social media and that they, therefore, lived in “two different worlds.”
He also wrote that he found it “astonishing” that some people felt his decision to let his daughter figure out the can opener for herself amounted to child abuse. He went on, “The only thing people are touchier about than parenting style is dog ownership.”
Roderick also addressed concerns about his daughter feeling hungry: “The best part about being ratio’d by these parenting concern-trolls is that they keep harping on how depriving my kid of baked beans for SIX HOURS is child abuse. Six hours is the length of time between meals. Lunch at noon, dinner at six. They’re literally saying CHILD ABUSE.”
But Roderick has since shared a more conciliatory perspective. He wrote in his online apology:
I woke up yesterday to find that I had become #BeanDad. I was a locus for a tremendous outpouring of anger and grief. It took me hours to fully grasp. I reread the story and saw clearly that I’d framed it so poorly, so insensitively. Bean Dad, full of braggadocio and dickhead swagger, was hurting people. I’d conjured an abusive parent that many people recognized from real life.
I am deeply sorry for having precipitated more hurt in the world, for having prolonged or exacerbated it by fighting back and being flippant when confronted, and for taking my Twitter feed offline yesterday instead of facing the music. I wish the parents I modeled didn’t exist; I wish no one had to grow up with a parent who tortured them physically or emotionally. I would never intentionally make light of those experiences and I’ll never underestimate again the pain I can cause with some poorly chosen words and by acting defensively when challenged.
3. The Can Opener Incident Inspired Social Media Users to Resurface Controversial Tweets Roderick Posted Several Years Ago; He Has Since Apologized & Said He Had Intended to be Ironic & Sarcastic
Roderick has been known to post remarks on Twitter that can be controversial or read as offensive. The can opener incident prompted some social media users to share screengrabs of tweets accredited to Roderick dating back to 2012.
For example, @fabricdragon posted screengrabs of tweets Roderick wrote to a fellow podcaster. The tweets included “Would you like me to rape you with my gun?” and “I’m going to rape you the next time I see you. Bad rape, not funny rape.”
Another screengrab shows a response Roderick wrote to a soccer mom who said her children’s team was called “the storm troopers” but that other parents “made us change it because of the Nazis.” Roderick responded, “Jews ruin everybody’s fun.”
@BirdRespecter shared several screengrabs, purported to be from Roderick, that are gaining traction on Twitter. One of the tweets from 2012 appears to have been a commentary on language: “Seriously though, you can say a band is ‘gay’ or a haircut is ‘retarded.’ They are elastic words. N***** is just a slur.”
Roderick also described Adolph Hitler as “entertaining.” In a tweet from 2013, Roderick appeared to be commenting on how the Holocaust could have been avoided if Hitler had been praised earlier in life. “A better plan is to go back in time and really praise Hitler for his part! Buy his paintings! Tell him he’s brilliant!”
Comedian Michael Ian Black is among those who came to Roderick’s defense. Black tweeted Roderick’s old tweets were “obviously jokes, not proof of any abhorrent beliefs.” He added, “I know what it’s like to have Twitter come after you and hold up your jokes as something other than what they are, and I remember that very few people stood up for me, so I’m standing up for John, regardless of his unwillingness to open a can of beans.”
Roderick addressed his older tweets in the January 5 apology:
As for the many racist, anti-Semitic, hurtful and slur-filled tweets from my early days on Twitter I can say only this: all of those tweets were intended to be ironic, sarcastic. I thought then that being an ally meant taking the slurs of the oppressors and flipping them to mock racism, sexism, homophobia, and bigotry. I am humiliated by my incredibly insensitive use of the language of sexual assault in casual banter. It was a lazy and damaging ideology, that I continued to believe long past the point I should’ve known better that because I was a hipster intellectual from a diverse community it was ok for me to joke and deploy slurs in that context. It was not. I realized, sometime in the early part of the decade, helped by real-life friends and Twitter friends too, that my status as a straight white male didn’t permit me to “repurpose” those slurs as people from disenfranchised communities might do. They were injurious regardless of my intent, because the words themselves have power and because actual violence is often prefaced by people saying, “I’m not racist, but…”
That was wrong, so I stopped.
Yesterday those old tweets resurfaced and hurt a lot of people anew. People who are close to me, people in my community who couldn’t square those words with the person they know me to be. And people who don’t know me, going about their business yesterday, had to see those awful slurs and feel the hurt those words inspire. They had to suffer this asshole #BeanDad casually demeaning them and their friends. I deeply regret having ever used those words. I do not want to spread more hate in the world. I want the opposite.
My language wasn’t appropriate then or now and reflecting on that has been part of my continuing education as an adult who wants to be a good ally. That education is ongoing, and this experience will have a profound effect on the way I conduct myself throughout the rest of my life.
4. John Roderick Produces a Podcast With Ken Jennings, Who Has Defended Him as a ‘Loving & Attentive Dad’
According to the podcast website, the show was designed to be “an encyclopedic reference of strange-but-true stories compiled as a time capsule for future generations.” On Roderick’s bio on the site, he jokingly wrote that he and Jennings “consider themselves to be authorities on absolutely everything.”
A search of business records on the Washington Secretary of State’s website shows Jennings and Roderick registered Omnibus, LLC in September 2019. In the filing, under “nature of business,” they described it as “entertainment, arts and recreation.” Jennings and Roderick were both listed as “governors” of the company.
Jennings has defended his business partner’s parenting abilities on Twitter. Jennings wrote, “If this reassures anyone, I personally know John to be (a) a loving and attentive dad who (b) tells heightened-for-effect stories about his own irascibility on like ten podcasts a week. This site is so dumb.” Jennings also joked, “Extremely jealous and annoyed that my podcast co-host is going to be a dictionary entry and I never will.”
5. Roderick Has a Band Called ‘The Long Winters’ & Owns a Music Company
Roderick performs in an indie-rock band called “The Long Winters” which formed in 2011. According to the band’s website, Roderick sings, plays the guitar and writes songs. He joked about himself in the bio section:
Widely acclaimed as one of America’s preeminent artists, credited with resurrecting Seattle’s moribund music scene and bringing new life to the rock genre, John also writes his own press bios. A central figure in the Northwest music community, John nevertheless maintains his outsider status by being both dangerously edgy and completely huggable, in contravention of established Seattle practice. Equally talented at almost any instrument, (except guitar, at which he is even more talented), John has made it nearly impossible for any other musicians to find work in Washington State, effectively playing ALL the music that needs to be played. John is also a widely respected journalist, an extensively quoted author and philosopher, a prima ballerina, a cowboy and an astronaut.
Roderick also has a music company called “Beats Working Music.” He registered the company as an LLC in Washington state in February 2019, according to state business records.
According to his Facebook page, Roderick grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and studied comparative history at the University of Washington. He also noted on his profile that he studied philosophy at Gonzaga University.