MGWCC #406

crossword 3:58 
meta 2 minutes,
but i googled right away 


mgwcc406hello and welcome to episode #406 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Yum Yum”. for this week 2 puzzle, matt challenges us to find a McDonald’s dessert that would complete this meal. okay. what are the theme answers?

  • {We’ll start our five-course meal with a healthy ___} SALMON SALAD.
  • {Next, a plate of England’s finest ___} CHEDDAR CHEESE.
  • {Then for our entree we’ll head to Mexico for a ___ (with 58-Across)} CHICKEN / CHIMICHANGA.
  • {And now, before dessert, we’ll randomly have another entree since it fits in the grid, a delicious ___} SCALLOP SCAMPI. nice lampshading there.

okay, so with a nudge from the title, we can see that these food names are all two-word phrases whose words both start with the same three-letter sequence. so what’s the meta answer? well, i’m not especially familiar with mcdonald’s dessert menu (i thought of “baked apple pie” and “mcflurry” and that was it), so i just googled my way to their dessert menu and quickly found the shamrock shake, a thing i have certainly never heard of. shrug. i guess it’s topical (or at least, i assume it’s a seasonal offering), but i was still kind of disappointed that the answer was so unfamiliar.

that said, i can understand the constraint: the meta answer has to be clear and undisputable, so drawing it from a clearly defined finite set is a good idea. none of the actual theme answers in the grid except for CHEDDAR CHEESE would have been suitable as a meta answer, and even with cheddar there’s the question of how to phrase the instructions to pin it without using the word “cheese” itself.

the grid was pretty good. i don’t know who {Ruth St. Denis’s dance partner} TED SHAWN is, or who ruth st denis is for that matter. i did this puzzle on friday, but now it’s tuesday morning and seeing both BRAH and OBAMA in the grid reminds me that this happened yesterday and that fills me with warm fuzzies all over again.

that’s all i’ve got this week. happy ides of march, everybody. don’t stab any tyrants today.

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33 Responses to MGWCC #406

  1. Justin says:

    Oh Joon, the Shamrock Shake is a classic. I almost never eat at McD’s but every year pick up a Shamrock Shake for old time’s sake. Thanks Matt.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, joon — 429 right answers this week.

  3. Jason says:

    Is a milkshake really a dessert?

  4. Scott says:

    Maybe sour grapes from me but I don’t consider a milkshake a dessert. I saw the alliteration so I sent in Strawberry Sundae (which is actually listed on the dessert menu unlike Shamrock Shake). I know this answer references only the first letters but I was surprised when it wasn’t right. I wonder how many people also went down a similar path.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      So you saw the same three letters starting each of the two words and rejected that, or did not see it?

      I mean, if a solver saw the three repeated letters and still rejected SHAMROCK SHAKE for some reason, then we could talk. But if you just saw the one-letter alliteration then there’s no argument, is there? That would barely qualify as a theme, much less a meta, and there would be several other answer.

      • Daniel Barkalow says:

        I rejected “McCafé Shamrock Shake” (as it’s listed on the online menu) for not having two words or any alliteration throughout. (In particular, I rejected the whole section of “McCafé (something) (something)” without looking at the details.) I think the instructions could have used a nod to the fact that we’re not (necessarily) looking for an official name, but what real people would actually ask for.

    • pannonica says:

      Didn’t know it at all, but looked at the menu. I then had to decide among Strawberry Sundae, Strawberry Shake, and Shamrock Shake. Wasn’t too tricky to determine which was more equal than the others.

      • Todd Dashoff says:

        I agree – I sent in a comment with my submission that the name on the website was McCafe Shamrock Shake, which violated the alliteration, but it was the only realistic choice.

        • makfan says:

          It used to be called just Shamrock Shake. The McCafe branding is fairly recent I believe.

          Maybe it says something about my diet, but this one was an instant click for me. I don’t even like these shakes.

          My answer comment was “reminds me of eating at Hamburger Hamlet back in college.”

  5. Scott says:

    I looked only at the McDonald dessert menu and saw only one item that had an alliteration and submitted it. What other possible dessert answer works? The menu clearly has Shakes in a different category than Desserts.

    • pannonica says:

      Not following. Sequence on the menu goes: sundaes, shakes, pies, cookies, parfait.

      Shakes also appear in the beverages section, but they’re clearly part of the dessert menu.

      • Paul Coulter says:

        First thing I noticed on the list was Pumpkin Pie, but I knew that couldn’t be it, so I kept going until Shamrock Shake. Matt, I’m curious to know the count for various wrong answers. There seemed to be a lot of them for a Week 2.

  6. George says:

    Like Joon, I also immediately jumped to apple pie and mcflurry before entering a single letter in the grid. I actually didn’t see the three letter alliteration until reading this write-up, (which made me feel stupid but gave me a greater appreciation for the puzzle) but the timing of St. Patrick’s day being so near made the Shamrock Shake the obvious answer. Thanks Matt!

  7. Tony says:

    Shamrock Shake sounded right to me. Fit the pattern for the other theme answers, and also with St. Patrick’s day right around the corner.

  8. Amy L says:

    I had to google this one. The first place I looked had a list of desserts but no shakes, and nothing with 3 and 3 matching letters. So I’m a little sympathetic with Scott. But I kept looking. (Who knew McDonald’s had such an extensive menu?) Finally, I saw shakes included in a dessert section and realized that they are awfully sweet and very high in calories, so I’m okay with calling them desserts.

    By the way, I recommend the goat cheese wrap at McDo in Paris. And you should see the desserts there!

  9. DanWhite says:

    While I certainly understand and totally accept the reason for Shamrock Shake, I am a bit surprised that no one (besides me) fell for Chocolate Chip Cookie as the answer.

  10. Garrett says:

    SALmon SALad, CHEddar CHEese, CHIcken CHImichanga, SCAllop SCAmpi makes SHAmrock SHAke a no-brainer. It really could not have been anything else. It is well known — first introduced in 1970 according to Wikipedia [1] and popular enough to have its own Facebook [2] page, and Saint Patrick’s day is Thursday of this week!


  11. Gwinns says:

    Joon, you really need to go get a Shamrock Shake right now.

  12. Joshua Kosman says:

    I just want to add my voice to those of my sisters and brothers who were led astray by a) McCafé and b) the lame-ass one-letter alliteration of Strawberry Sundae. And in adding my voice, to say, “Matt is right, we were wrong, quitcherbeefin.”

    Over and out.

  13. deborah says:

    I agree with Scott…..don’t think a milkshake qualifies as a dessert. I looked at the dessert menu on line and the only thing that fit was strawberry sundae.

  14. pannonica says:

    Which on-line dessert menu is being consulted by the people who don’t find shakes therein? My link above seems to be the official one.

    • Mac says:

      But you link to a menu page that lists “Desserts and Shakes.” The very title suggests that shakes are not desserts – merely included together on the same menu page because of their similarity. If a menu page was titled “Hamburgers and French Fries,” would french fries become hamburgers?

      Having said that, the answer was obvious. The meta was slightly flawed.

      • pannonica says:

        Good point, but I guess I interpret the grouping as clarification and don’t see a substantial parallel to the hypothetical ‘burgers and fries’ counterexample.

  15. chris says:

    two comments:

    one, i’m not even ashamed to have actually gone to a mcdonald’s to figure out the answer. that shake was delicious.

    two, i’m (still) not a fan of “hey, look what’s going on right around now” as a hint to the answer.

    • Andy says:

      Regarding point two, I don’t think it’s fair to call that a “hint” so much as an additional click. It’s a perfectly gettable answer even if you don’t consider the season.

    • Swatch says:

      Good for you, Mr. Christie! There’s no shame in doing a little research while puzzledoin’.
      And who knew our renowned governor was such a diehard cruciverbalist?

  16. Jon says:

    Joon, you’ve never heard of a Shamrock Shake?!? It’s a famous classic shake at McD’s.

    • joon says:

      yeah, some of us don’t eat at mcdonald’s. reading through the comment thread, it looks like i’m not the only one, either.

  17. Annoyed says:

    Chiming in late, but this was the second “bad” meta in 2016, and I don’t buy Matt’s excuse that we should have seen the three-letter match. Because of the McCafe, I never even thought to look farther than one letter — since I had had to go the effing Google search to even have a glimpse of what “desserts” might be offered at a McS***. Not happy.

Comments are closed.