MGWCC #806

crossword 2:42
meta DNF 3 days 


hello and welcome to episode #806 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “That’s an Order!”. for this week 2 puzzle, i attempted to break my streak of missed metas at two, following what might have been my first-ever miss on a week 1 last week. the instructions tell us that we’re looking for a two-word brand of cookie. what are the theme answers?

  • {It’s above the basement} FIRST FLOOR.
  • {Physical feature of Homer Simpson} BEER BELLY.
  • {Ready for a refill, as a canteen} ALMOST EMPTY.
  • {Website prompt, often} ACCEPT ALL.
  • {Temperate at which the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales converge} FORTY BELOW.

what do these have in common? it took me a while to see it—on my first pass, i noticed that “first order” is a thing (and “first-order” is a different thing) and “beer order” is perhaps a thing, but the others don’t really continue the pattern.

coming back to look at it a few days later, i now see that FORTY is a word that has all of its letters in alphabetical order—in fact, it is the only such numeral in the english language. (it’s almost magical how the “u” of FOUR disappears to make it work.)

i should perhaps correct myself—FORTY is the only cardinal number that fits the property, because the ordinal FIRST also fits. in fact, all ten words appearing in the theme answers have the alphabetical property! i assume, then, that we’re looking for a two-word cookie brand in which the letters of both words are in alphabetical order, such that it could be a sixth theme answer.

my first thought was HI HO, which is … well, i don’t know if it fits exactly, but it’s close—the brand has been discontinued, and it’s definitely more of what you would call a cracker than a cookie, but i’m not really sure what technical distinction, if any, there is between cookies and crackers. but since it’s only two two-letter words, it’s not a very satisfying answer. (that said, if anybody submitted it, i definitely think they should get credit.)

CHIPS AHOY!, on the other hand, is definitely a cookie, definitely still extant, and fits the pattern. it must be matt’s intended meta answer. and now this triggers a very dim memory—have i seen this meta done before? yes, a long time ago—seven and a half years. it’s interesting to compare the execution—i like matt’s set of theme answers better, and i think it’s because he allowed himself to use double letters, opening up greater possibilities for in-the-language entries like FIRST FLOOR, BEER BELLY, and ACCEPT ALL.

i’m grateful to have snapped my losing skid at two weeks. on its own merits, this was a fine meta and i liked it. the experience of having done it before didn’t really have any bearing on my solving experience until after the fact, when it twigged that deeply recessed memory. i’m actually a little annoyed that i remembered and was able to find the older puzzle, because it’s now colored my experience of this one and i wish it hadn’t.

that’s all i’ve got this week. how’d you like this one?

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to MGWCC #806

  1. Mikey G says:

    I’m a messy eater, so when I munch on these cookies, I got some chips on my shoulder.

    (This pun was crumby.)

  2. Adam T says:

    I didn’t see the clues, but I made a list of possible answers and the very first one I thought of was the answer. The others were Lorna Doone, Nutter Butter, Girl Scouts/Thin Mints, and Peak Freans.

    49A was a neat red herring as it refers to browser cookies.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 301 right answers this week.

    So I always check when I get an idea to make sure it hasn’t been used in a meta before, and in this one I Googled “first floor” and “beer belly” but finding neither used this way I went along and made the grid and clued. When I looked at it later, I thought: well wait, if anyone else had used this idea they certainly would have found CHIPS AHOY, so I belatedly Googled that and…there was Peter’s meta. Ack! But oh well. The first two hadn’t come up because Peter didn’t use double letters in his version.

    • EP says:

      There may have been 301 solves, but I wonder how many were basically ‘Hail Mary’s, given that Chips Ahoy is one of the most well known two word brands. (It would have been mine, which I again chose not to submit). If they had to ‘show their work’, the number likely wouldn’t go down a lot, but it would surely got down to under 300, well into week 3 plus territory.

  4. Jason T says:

    Wow, I solved this 7 years ago, but completely forgot about it – and almost missed solving it this time around! I suspect the use of double letters, while it produces more in-the-language phrases, also makes it harder to spot the alphabetization. (And indeed, my inroad to noticing the alphabetical order was the non-double-lettered FORTY BELOW.)

    This is fun, though: a rare opportunity to see two crossword masters tackle the same idea. And with the same answer, no less! Great minds think alike…

  5. Scott says:

    I don’t know why, but for some reason the meta answer came quickly to me.

  6. Mike says:

    Hoping that this is some kind of reverse month and weeks 3 and 4 resemble a normal week 2 and week 1 given what we’ve seen so far….

  7. Mutman says:

    Hmmm in ASCII, ‘Y’ is x’59’ and ‘!’ is x’21’.

    But given the YAHOO! controversy of 5+ years ago (if anyone remembers that), I think we can let it slide.

  8. AmyL says:

    Cookies vs. crackers: Cookies are sweet (sugary) while crackers are savory (salty).

  9. Jon says:

    Before I arrived to my aha moment and when I was adrift in the solve, I noticed that ERBE is hidden in BEERBELLY. Kathryn Erbe is an actress from “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Could the “order” of the title be referring to the different Law & Order franchise series? No. But I thought it was an interesting coincidence.

Comments are closed.