Spoiler alert: The following article reveals the theme answers in The New York Times crossword puzzle for Wednesday, January 26.
Pulitzer Prizes and National Magazine Awards are all well and good, but today Cigar Aficionado received recognition of a different sort: inclusion in the hallowed New York Times crossword, the high-water mark for puzzlers across the nation.
Cigar Aficionado appeared as the answer to the 51-across clue—"Magazine opposed to the Cuban trade embargo"—and was also the last entry in a quartet of theme answers. Puzzlers were asked to take the first word from four phrases ("close encounter", "but seriously", "no soliciting" and "Cigar Aficionado") to build a sentence meaning "near miss" ("Close, but no cigar").
While we are honored by our appearance, we are left wondering about the choice of the clue that introduced Cigar Aficionado. It is true that we oppose the trade embargo, but we also might have been referred to as "the good life magazine for men" or "bible of handmade premium smokes." Will Shortz, the editor of The New York Times crossword puzzle, was unavailable to shed light on the reasoning behind the clue.
The question now is will Cigar Aficionado become a recurrent answer? With more vowels than it has consonants (eight to seven), the name is a perfect candidate for inclusion in puzzles as most words are vowel-starved. The same quality has puzzlemakers returning to names such as Yoko Ono (four vowels to three consonants) and Jay Leno (four to three, if Y acts as a vowel) an inordinate number of times.
On second thought, that doesn't sound like such great company.