RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And noting says Sunday like an anagram.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: It's time for the puzzle. Joining me now is Will Shortz. He is, of course, the puzzle editor for the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: So, we've had listeners working on a very tough two-week challenge - no anagrams here. Describe what this puzzle was.
SHORTZ: Yeah. It was an open-ended challenge with an objective best answer. I said take a seven-by-seven square grid and arrange the names of U.S. cities or towns in regular crossword fashion inside the grid so that the cities used have the highest possible total population, according to the 2010 Census. So, as in a regular crossword, the names had to read across and down and every name had to interlock with at least another name, and no two letters could touch unless they were part of a name. And I didn't accept abbreviations, like NYC and L.A. They had to be the real city and town names.
MARTIN: That is incredible. That definitely would have taken me two weeks.
SHORTZ: Well, it is amazing, because we had one listener who sent in the best answers, unmatched by anyone else's, and it was Glenn Keenan of Des Moines, Iowa. And in his answer, he had the first, third, fifth and seventh rows had New York, Chicago, Dallas and Houston in that order; and coming down, he had Omaha, Knox, Kentucky and Ajo, Arizona - A-J-O - for a total population of 14,584, 183. What he missed was - some listeners found a town in Oklahoma, IXL - it's three letters. It's pronounced IXL. It has a population of 59. You could also squeeze that in the grid and you could have had and even higher total.
MARTIN: Glenn Keenan of Des Moines, Iowa joins us now on the line. Glenn, congratulations.
GLENN KEENAN: Thank you.
MARTIN: I mean, this was a doozy. How did you figure this one out?
KEENAN: Well, I worked on it for a couple days. I had lots of different permutations. And finally I just said, OK, I got to send it in or else I'm going to be working on it for the next two weeks straight. So, I sent it in on Tuesday after the puzzle was first announced. And I thought if I win, great; if I don't, that's OK too, so.
MARTIN: Well, you did. Clearly, you do a lot of this kind of thinking, this kind of puzzling in your free time?
KEENAN: Yeah. I love the New York Times crossword puzzle. I do it almost every day. In fact, about a month ago, there was a letterboxes Sunday crossword contest, and I was one of the 25 randomly selected winners for that.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: This is just your destiny, Glenn. I bet he's going to be really good at the puzzle.
SHORTZ: I have a feeling.
MARTIN: Yeah. OK, Glenn. Are you ready to do this?
KEENAN: Yes, I am.
MARTIN: All right, Will. Let's play.
SHORTZ: All right, Glenn and Rachel. This week's puzzle involves brand names of foods at the grocery. If I asked you to take Dole D-O-L-E, as in pineapples, and rearrange the letters to name an ore deposit, you would say lode L-O-D-E. So, what anagrams do each of the following names conceal? And your first one is Goya G-O-Y-A, as in beans and Hispanic foods, and your clue is means of meditation.
SHORTZ: That's it. Number two is Nestea N-E-S-T-E-A; a legislative body.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Ore-Ida, as in the potato-based frozen foods, and your clue is one carrying equipment at a rock concert.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Perdue, as in the chicken; put through a blender.
KEENAN: Oh, pureed.
SHORTZ: Pureed, good. Folgers, and your clue is certain sportsmen.
SHORTZ: Right. Yoplait Y-O-P-L-A-I-T, as in the yogurt; what a child puts sand in at the beach.
KEENAN: Toy pail.
SHORTZ: That's it. How about Wheaties, as in the breakfast cereal; and your clue is body of water in northwest Russia. It's two words.
KEENAN: All right. Is it the White Sea?
SHORTZ: It's the White Sea. I'm impressed.
MARTIN: I'm just going to go get a cup of coffee. I'll be back when you're done.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SHORTZ: Here's a classic one - you may know this already. Pepsi Cola, and your clue is relating to a certain religious denomination.
SHORTZ: Episcopal is it. Good.
SHORTZ: Sweet n Low - that's sweet, the letter N and low - something a hotel maid usually puts in a bathroom each day - two words.
KEENAN: Is it new towels?
SHORTZ: New towels is it. Oscar Mayer, as in the cold cuts, and something going on in New York City right now - two words.
KEENAN: OK. Let's see.
SHORTZ: Politically, something going on...
KEENAN: The mayor race.
SHORTZ: Mayor's race is it. And your last one is Stella D'Oro - that's Stella and then D-O-R-O, cookies and breadsticks. And your clue is a breakfast food usually served hot, two words.
MARTIN: We finally stumped him.
KEENAN: Rolled oats?
MARTIN: Ugh. Oh, man.
SHORTZ: Rolled oats is it. Glenn, that is brilliant.
MARTIN: I mean that was - that was admirable.
MARTIN: That was something to behold, Glenn.
KEENAN: Well, thank you.
MARTIN: You bet. For playing the puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, Glenn, what is your public radio station?
KEENAN: It's WOI in Ames, Iowa.
MARTIN: Great. Glenn Keenan of Des Moines, Iowa. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Glenn.
KEENAN: Thank you.
MARTIN: OK. Will, what is the challenge for next week?
Yes, name a brand of beer. Rearrange the letters to name an activity often associated with beer. What is it? So, a brand of beer, rearrange the letters to name an activity often associated with beer. What beer is it and what's the activity.
You're making up for the big, long two-week puzzle.
MARTIN: This is short and sweet. When you have got the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle. Click on the Submit Your Answer link, just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is next Thursday, October 31st at 3 P.M. Eastern Time.
Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time because if you're the winner, we'll give you a call. And you will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times. And he is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.
Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.