ARUN RATH, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Arun Rath. You can't see me but I've got on my Riddler mask and a bright green unitard covered with question marks, which means it's either Comic Con or time for the puzzle. And joining me now is Will Shortz. He's of course the Puzzle Editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Arun.
RATH: And I know you're speaking to us from Portland. I'm told that's where the National Puzzle League is holding its 175th convention. Were puzzles much different back in the 19th century?
SHORTZ: The crossword was invented in 1913, so the old-style puzzles were things like riddles but with wordplay.
RATH: So I'm sure you've got a lot of puzzles running through your head up there but we need your help remembering one in particular. What was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Ben Coffman (ph) of Portland, Oregon. And I said, think of a popular TV show about cooking. It's a show everyone has heard of, I said. Remove the second and third letters of the first word and insert them after the first letter of the second word, and the answer will be a phrase for a different kind of cooking. What is it?
Well, the answer is breaking bad, which you know is about cooking meth. That was a little tricky clue. And move the R and the E and you get baking bread, a different kind of cooking.
RATH: Yeah, it was way too clever for me. I was way off. But over 400 of you out there figured it out. And our randomly selected winner this week is Roderick Crider (ph) of Washington, D.C. Pretty close by. He joins us on the line now. Hi, Roderick.
RODERICK CRIDER: Hi.
CRIDER: Thank you.
RATH: So are you a devotee of "Breaking Bad" or how did this come to you?
CRIDER: I knew something was funny 'cause of the way he guaranteed that we knew it. And he said a show about cooking instead of a cooking show. But it still didn't come to me, and I just kind of forgot about it. And then I fell asleep watching a National Geographic documentary about crystal meth called "Drugs, Inc.," and woke up in the middle of the night at like 4:00a.m. I woke my wife up and said, oh, I think I figured it out.
RATH: And do you have a question for our puzzle master, Will Shortz?
CRIDER: Yeah, I do. So I got into puzzles because my wife's cousin had made a puzzle about guessing their next child's name. And I wrote a computer program that came up with all the possible solutions, and I was able to guess it really quickly. And I've been using the same computer program on a lot of your puzzles and that's how I solve them. And I was wondering is that frowned upon, one, and do you ever use compute programs to come up with riddles or just to make sure there's only one answer?
SHORTZ: First of all, how to solve the puzzle - you're welcome to do - solve it any way you like. I try to write the challenge puzzles so that it's no easier to solve it by computer than to solve it using your head.
RATH: So Roderick, do you have your computer standing by to help you with the puzzle right now?
CRIDER: Oh, yes. It's ready to go.
RATH: Great. Let's go. Let's play.
SHORTZ: All right, Roderick and Arun. I'm going to give you two clues. The first is for a brand name that ends in the letter S and it sounds like it's plural. Change the first letter to spell a new word that is plural and answers the second clue. For example, if I said a brand of tennis shoes and places to sleep, you would say, Keds and beds. All right, number one is a brand of diapers and people sleeping outdoors at night.
CRIDER: Pampers, campers.
SHORTZ: That's it.
SHORTZ: Number two is another brand of diapers, and your second clue is carriages.
CRIDER: I think that's all the diaper brands I know. What was the second clue?
RATH: Oh. Huggies, buggies?
SHORTZ: Huggies, buggies. Yes, good one. Try this one. A brand of candy bar and old-fashioned pants.
CRIDER: Snickers, knickers.
SHORTZ: Nice. All right, a brand of pants and places to store athletes' clothes.
CRIDER: Dockers and lockers.
SHORTZ: That's it. A brand of candy and groups of buffalo.
CRIDER: A group of buffalo.
SHORTZ: Groups of buffalo. What would those be?
SHORTZ: Yes. And the candy?
CRIDER: Nerds and herds.
SHORTZ: Nerds and herds is it. A brand of facial tissues and what police slap on suspects wrists.
CRIDER: OK. Handcuffs or cuffs.
SHORTZ: Shorter than that. Yeah.
CRIDER: Just cuffs.
SHORTZ: Yes. And facial tissues?
SHORTZ: There you go.
CRIDER: Puffs and cuffs. Yeah.
SHORTZ: Puffs and cuffs. And here's your last one. A brand of cream-filled cakes...
SHORTZ: ...And people who pose for pictures.
CRIDER: Is it Twinkies?
SHORTZ: No, it's not Twinkies. I couldn't make that work. It's a different brand of cream-filled cakes. But people who pose for pictures. What are those?
SHORTZ: Yes. And the cream-filled cakes? And it's a competitor of Twinkies.
RATH: Would that be Yodels?
SHORTZ: It would be Yodels.
CRIDER: Yeah, I don't know that one either.
SHORTZ: Nice job.
RATH: I eat garbage, what can I say.
Well, great job, Roderick. And sorry I wasn't more help to you. But for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And Roderick, tell us your public radio station.
RATH: Right here in Washington, D.C. Roderick Crider, thanks for playing the puzzle this week.
CRIDER: Thank you.
RATH: And Will, what do you have to puzzle us with next week?
SHORTZ: Yes. Name something in five letters that it's nice to have lots of in the summer. Change the last letter to the following letter of the alphabet. Rearrange the result and you'll name something else that you probably have lots of in the summer but that you don't want. What is it? And here's a hint, the second thing is a form of the first thing. So again, five letters. Something it's nice to have lots of in the summer. Change the last letter to the following letter of the alphabet. Rearrange the result and you'll name something else that you probably have lots of in the summer but that you probably don't want. What is it?
RATH: That sounds tricky. But if you get the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the submit your answer link. Just one entry per person, please. And remember our deadline for entries is Thursday, July 24th, at 3:00p.m. Eastern. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we'll give you a call and you'll get to play on the air with Puzzle Editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Will, thanks.
SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Arun.
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.