WSJ Contest — Friday, July 29, 2022

Grid: 8 minutes; meta: ten more 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Sounds Delicious” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking for a six-letter word. There were six long theme entries with silly fill. I wrote them down and didn’t find a signal at first. I tried to make something of DREAD/BREAD and SHOREDOUGH/SOURDOUGH, but that rabbit hole petered out. I said “DREADAGENIE” out loud and thought of foods. FETTUCCINE (which happens to be ten letters long) came to mind and I had the rabbit: each silly entry rhymed with a type of pasta and the clued numbers referred to the length of each type:

WSJ Contest – 07.29.22


The first letters of the rhyming pastas spell FLAVOR, our contest solution. I had most of FLAVOR filled in (and knew that had to be the answer), but had to Google a bit to complete the list. This Wikipedia article came in handy. I’m not 100% sure on AGNOLOTTI but the answer was a lock so I submitted it. Solvers: let me know how you did, and if your list matches mine. We’ll end with Public Enemy’s Fight the Power.

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31 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, July 29, 2022

  1. carolynchey says:

    I was nowhere close. I spotted the weirdly clued answer “hairier” in the center of the grid, and when I looked at the first long answer I saw “DREAD”, which made me think of “DREADLOCKS” (a hairstyle) and LOCKS sounds deliciously like LOX. I so wanted to find similar connections for the other themers but didn’t get anywhere, and I just couldn’t make it out of that rabbit hole!

  2. MichelleQ+(onaquest) says:

    Did exactly what you did, realised “sounds” was pointing me to a “sounds like” meta, but it took me till Sunday to say all the clues out loud and there it was.

  3. Michael in Chelsea says:

    I found the rhyming pasta angle, but thought the third one was supposed to translate to manicotti. I misconstrued the numbers in the clues to refer to letters in the wacky answers, though, which gave me INTYRO, which anagram to ROTINY, which I thought might point to ROTINI, which I submitted, since it ‘sounds’ like a delicious food. What are the chances a wrong strategy could seem so correct?

  4. Dave+Bromsey says:

    I did not get this one. The number in parentheses took me down multiple rabbit holes. I wish he didn’t put them there – but it was a fair puzzle.

  5. Neal says:

    I am delighted to share that I was feasting on a bowl of tortellini as I was working on this puzzle and I began pronouncing the silly answers out loud with a mouth full of pasta which helped me realize that they rhymed with types of pasta. Adding new levels to my meta-solving game. Molto bene!

  6. Seth says:

    Didn’t get it, and it’s cute, but if I’d figured out the mechanism, I would have definitely thought MANICOTTI was correct and never gotten the right answer. AGNOLOTTI is hilariously unknown compared to the other five. It doesn’t even show up on many websites that list types of pasta in alphabetical order.

    Why didn’t Matt just do something that rhymes with ANGEL HAIR? Why pick such an obscure pasta when there’s a well-known one right there?

  7. Todd Dashoff says:

    I didn’t even notice the numbers following the clues; I just sounded out the answers and backed into agnolotti, which I also had to look up.

  8. Julianna says:

    I have a general newbie question about these meta puzzles. I submitted my first correct response to last week’s meta — no response whatsoever from WSJ. Is that usual? Has anyone actually ever won a mug? Thanks!

    • You likely won’t get any response from the WSJ unless you win the mug. I once won the mug … when I joked the day before that I was due to win one.

      • Julianna says:

        Thanks so much for responding!

      • Mikie says:

        I’ve always been curious what the odds are of winning the coveted mug, i.e., roughly how many correct answers get submitted each week? WSJ circulation figures vary with the source, though 3 – 4 million including digital comes up fairly often. If 1% of readers submit a correct answer, that would be 30k – 40k, though that sounds like a high percentage of readers who not only solve the Friday xword but also get the meta. Maybe a 10th of that, 3k – 4k correct answers per week?

        • Harry R says:

          The number of correct responses is posted on the puzzle website, usually on the Monday following. Typically there are anywhere from 1,000 to 3,ooo correct responses, so your odds are not good.

        • Bill+Katz says:

          There’s a link on the muggles site to a spreadsheet for calculating your cumulative odds based on how many micro-mugs you collect (if there are 1000 correct answers, you earn 100 micro-mugs, once you collect half a million, that’s about even odds you should have won a mug. I’m at 330,000 micro-mugs, but still no real mug. I’ve been playing since the beginning.

    • Joella+D+Hultgren says:

      There is a family (household) that has already won THREE mugs. I believe they are husband, wife, daughter. I wonder how that happened…..doesn’t sound random.

    • Garrett says:

      WSJ gives no response unless your correct entry puts you in the selection process for a mug and you win that.

      I really appreciate the MGWCC Leaderboard.

  9. hibob says:

    Never heard of agnolotti. I decided TonyaZloty must point to Antipasti, which I didn’t like because it wasn’t a pasta. But FLAVOR was a good word so I went with it.

  10. David L says:

    This was another ‘either you get it or you don’t’ meta. I didn’t. I figured from the titles that sound-alikes were going to be involved, but nothing came to me.

    IMO, some of the alleged rhymes are pretty iffy. MEAN in ZINGMEANIE doesn’t sound like the GUI of LINGUINI, and TONYA doesn’t sound like AGNO.

    • Joella+D+Hultgren says:


    • Flinty+Steve says:

      There are only two sounds (Z and M) in ZINGMEANIE that aren’t in linguini, so whether it’s the right “GUI” hardly seems to matter; it’s the right “ini.” Agno is pronounced as in ah-nyuh-LAHT-tee, so it’s TONYA without the T. Neither sounds “iffy” to my ear.

      • David L says:

        That’s why puzzles and metas involving pronunciation are always problematic. They work for some people but not for others.

        If I wanted to be extra nitpicky, and I do, I would add that the middle vowels of PERMABELLY and VERMICELLI are not the same for me. The first is a schwa, the second is a short i.

        • Flinty Steve says:

          I don’t see how that matters. The puzzle is called “Sounds Delicious” not “Yummy Identical Rhymes.”

        • pannonica says:

          And I would say it’s a short e

          • David L says:

            But for me, at least, the issue is how tight or relaxed the rhymes must be to prompt my brain to come up with the desired items. I knew I was looking for “delicious things that rhyme” (for $200, please, Alex) and I couldn’t produce them.

  11. Iggystan says:

    Thankfully this one came pretty easily for me and I knew Agnolotti because we watch too many Food Network shows.

  12. Mary Ellen Price says:

    I had manicotti instead of agnolotti, so I submitted PASTAS. Bummer.

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