Be THANKful For This Puzzle

Dec 1, 2013
Originally published on December 1, 2013 2:49 pm

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is a game of categories based on the word "thank," in honor of Thanksgiving weekend. For each category, name something beginning with each of the letters T, H, A, N and K. For example, if the category were "U.S. States," you might say Tennessee, Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada and Kentucky.

Last week's challenge: Name a tree whose letters can be rearranged to spell two herbs or spices. Hint: The tree has a two-word name. What tree is it, and what are the herbs or spices?

Answer: Osage orange; oregano and sage

Winner: John Wheeler of St. Louis Park, Minn.

Next week's challenge: Name a dance. Change one of the letters to a U. The resulting letters can be rearranged to name an event at which this dance is done. What is it?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. All that tryptophan should have worn off by now, so let's snap to, good people. It's time to play the puzzle.


MARTIN: Joining me in person in our Washington, D.C. studios is Will Shortz. He is, of course, the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master. Good morning, Will. So nice to actually see you.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel. Don't peek over here. I've got the answers.

MARTIN: I know I'm going to have to resist temptation. So, it's a very rare treat to have you in-studio. What brings you to our nation's capital?

SHORTZ: It is the North American Teams Table Tennis Championships, which are taking place in National Harbor, which is in Maryland, just across the Potomac.

MARTIN: I should have figured it would have been something puzzle- or table-tennis related.

SHORTZ: Right. It's only 15 minutes away so how could I not come over?

MARTIN: Perfect. We're so glad to have you on this Thanksgiving weekend. So, let's kick it off. Can you refresh our memories - what was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yeah, last week I said name a tree whose letters can be rearranged to spell two herbs or spices. What are they? Well, the tree was the Osage orange. You know that tree?

MARTIN: I do not.

SHORTZ: That's in the Midwest when I was growing up and it just goes down to Arkansas. And you can rearrange those letters to make oregano and sage, which are both herbs.

MARTIN: We got around 150 correct answers, and our randomly selected winner this week is John Wheeler of St. Louis Park, Minnesota. He joins us on the line now. Hey, John, congratulations.

JOHN WHEELER: Well, thank you very much.

MARTIN: So, how'd you figure this one out? Are you a big nature enthusiast? Do you know the Osage orange tree?

WHEELER: I do know the Osage orange tree, which, as Will mentioned, is common in the Midwest and was planted to create the hedges between farms.

MARTIN: So, this came to you right away?

WHEELER: Not right away. We heard the puzzle driving back from getting bagels for Sunday brunch and we sat around the dining room table with a pencil and paper and kind of arrived at Osage orange and said, oh, sage and oregano. There we go.

MARTIN: Good job. Do you have a question for Will Shortz? Now's your big chance, if you do.

WHEELER: Well, I'm kind of wondering if he has a brother who may have gone to Indiana University with my brother.

SHORTZ: How about that - yeah, my brother is Richard Shortz or Dick Shortz.

MARTIN: Did the two know each other, John?

WHEELER: Yeah, my brother, I think he was in the same fraternity as Dick.

SHORTZ: Yeah, Sigma Chi fraternity.

WHEELER: And my mother loves puzzles. She passed away eight months ago or so.

MARTIN: Oh, I'm sorry about that.

WHEELER: She was very aware of Will and happy to listen to the puzzles and work the New York Times crosswords and...

MARTIN: Ah, that's nice. Well, let's do that in her name - let's play the puzzle. You want to do that?

WHEELER: All right. Wonderful.


SHORTZ: All right, John and Rachel. This is a good two-person puzzle. I brought a game of categories based on the word thank in honor of Thanksgiving weekend. I'm going to name some categories. For each one, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters T-H-A-N and K. For example, if the category were U.S. states, you might say Tennessee, Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada and Kentucky. Any answer that works is OK. And you can do the answers in any order.

MARTIN: OK. You got it, John?

WHEELER: Sort of, yeah.

MARTIN: Sort of? Well, let's just give it a go.



SHORTZ: Your first category is U.S. presidents, but we're looking for last names.

WHEELER: Oh, OK. I'm blank here.

SHORTZ: So, who...

WHEELER: Kennedy.

SHORTZ: Kennedy's OK, good.

WHEELER: Hoover.

SHORTZ: Hoover's a good H, yes. Who did Kennedy defeat in 1960?

WHEELER: He defeated, oh, Nixon.

SHORTZ: There you go. There's your N, so you need T and A.

WHEELER: Oh, OK. Truman.

SHORTZ: Truman is good. And who was our second president?

WHEELER: Oh, good grief - John Adams.

SHORTZ: Adams. There you go. OK. Presidents out of the way. Category two is fruits.


SHORTZ: Kiwi fruit is good.


SHORTZ: Apple, um-hum.

WHEELER: Nectarine.

SHORTZ: Nectarine, excellent. T and H.

WHEELER: Drawing a blank on T and H.

SHORTZ: There is a T that's similar to an orange.

WHEELER: Oh, a tangerine.

SHORTZ: There you go. And all you need is an H. What fruit might have for breakfast that you would eat with a spoon? And it's a kind of melon?

WHEELER: Not a big melon fan.

MARTIN: Me either.

WHEELER: Honeydew.

SHORTZ: Honeydew, very good. Huckleberry would also work. Here's your next one: African capitals.

WHEELER: OK. Well, Addis Ababa.

SHORTZ: Addis Ababa, good job.

WHEELER: Kinshasa.

SHORTZ: Good. T, H and N. There is two Ts that are on the north coast of Africa.


SHORTZ: Tunis and Tripoli, right. H and N.

WHEELER: Harare.

SHORTZ: Harare. I am impressed. And all you need is an N. There's a lot of them but there's one that's pretty well-known.

WHEELER: Nairobi.

SHORTZ: Nairobi works. Very good. Now's your last category: un-capitalized four-letter words whose first and last letters are the same.


SHORTZ: Trot is good, yes.

WHEELER: Ooh, hash?

SHORTZ: Hash, yes.


SHORTZ: Aura, good.

MARTIN: Gosh, John.

WHEELER: Hmm, how about non.


SHORTZ: That yeah, all you need is a K now.


SHORTZ: Kook, kick and kink, all work. Nice job, John.

MARTIN: John, that was excellent.


MARTIN: Great job.

WHEELER: Oh, I had to do well on one of them.


MARTIN: You did excellent. For playing our puzzle today, you of course get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. And you can read all about it at

And before we let you go, tell us what is your public radio station, John?

WHEELER: It's KNOW in St. Paul, Minnesota, wonderful station.

MARTIN: Wonderful station, lovely to hear it. John Wheeler, of St. Paul, Minnesota. Thank you so much for playing the puzzle this week, John.

WHEELER: You're very welcome. Thank you and thank you for doing this every Sunday.

MARTIN: Happy Holidays to you.

WHEELER: Happy to you.

MARTIN: And, Will, what is our challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it's short and sweet. Name a dance. Change one of the letters to a U, and the resulting letters can be rearranged to name an event at which this dance is done. What is it?

So again, name a dance. Change one of the letters to a U, and rearrange the resulting letters to name an event at which this dance is done. What dance is it?

MARTIN: OK, you know what to do. When you've got the answer, go to our website, and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, December 5th 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'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.

Will, thanks so much for being here. It was so fun.

SHORTZ: This was fun. Thank you, Rachel.

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