Mustard on Oreos? A Crossword Clue Is Causing Confusion Among Cookie Fans
Even the folks at Oreo hadn't heard of this one.
The USA Today crossword puzzle that ran on Wednesday was a pretty good one for food lovers. The clue for 64 Across was "pricey Japanese beef," 5 Down was "Slippery fish used in hitsumabushi," and 10 Down was "Cookie that some people eat with mustard." The answers were, of course, Kobe, eel, and...wait, no, that can't be right. No one eats Oreos with mustard, do they?
When 'Oreo' was revealed to be the correct answer, people were confused and upset and angry—especially the ones who tried that cursed combination. Brett Murphy, a reporter on the USA Today Network's investigations desk, tweeted a screenshot of an email that he said he'd sent to the clue-crafters, and those seven paragraphs were a journey.
"I eventually filled in OREO [in the crossword puzzle]. I was confused, but willing to admit my ignorance for the sake of completing your godforsaken puzzle," he wrote. "And then I tried it."
Murphy said that he acquired some Oreo cookies, topped them with mustard, and that the result was "wretched." (Honestly, just reading the words 'Oreo' and 'mustard' in the same sentence is enough to make us swear off both products for the next several months, if not for the rest of our natural lives.)
"Who exactly are the 'some people' that consume Oreos with mustard?" he wrote. "I would like to have a word with them. If you could kindly provide their phone numbers and mailing addresses, I would be most appreciative."
The Oreo-and-mustard eaters must keep a low profile—possibly because they're lizard people?—because they aren't making themselves known on Twitter. "The fact that Oreo actually is the correct answer should be a criminal offense," one woman responded. "Sounds like the crossword author trying to normalize his or her horrifying behavior," another person added.
This cookie-and-condiment abomination seemed to be a new one for Oreo itself. "Adds mustard to list of unusual things people dunk OREO cookies into," the brand's official @Oreo account wrote.
Josh Spiegel, a writer for Slashfilm, was upset enough to try to find the combination's origin story, and his investigoogling led him to a book called The Summer of '72: Haight Ashbury to Alaska, which is author Ted Soderberg's account of—you guessed it—that time in 1972 when he spent his summer break on a commercial fishing boat in southern Alaska.
In the book, Soderberg recounts a particularly rough trip toward Seattle, and it was also the night that he decided to mess with another sailor who was already feeling pretty seasick. He grabbed some canned sardines, canned peaches, a package of Oreos, and a jar of yellow mustard from the ship's galley, sat down in front of his struggling friend, and proceeded to go full USA Today crossword on him.
"'Did you know that Oreos taste better if you spread a little mustard on them?' I then spread a big glob of mustard on two Oreos, shoved one in my mouth as mustard dripped down my chin, and extended the last one toward Lenny," he wrote. "'Here you go buddy, give it a try.'
"'Ugh how can you eat Oreos with mustard,' [Lenny said]. And at that point—"
Actually we have no idea what happened at that point, because the Google Books preview ends there, but if there's any justice in this world, Lenny threw Soderberg and his nasty snacks right into the sea.
In that same Wednesday crossword, there was also a clue about "log shaped pastries." The answer was eclair and so help us, if USA Today ever suggests filling those with mustard, then we'll be ready to fight.