Original image

How Did You Know, Kris & Ryan Kelly?!

Original image

First a little update: We're now over 760 fans over on the Hunt's Facebook page! Gamers are taking it upon themselves to trade answers through cryptic clues! Nice going Fans! Keep on using the page in new, and cool ways as the community grows.

More importantly, despite it being a holiday week, we still managed to get dozens of submissions with all the correct answers. And you all will be entered into the drawing to win this month's Vado HD cam, courtesy of our sponsors. Likewise, anyone who submitted any answer at all is eligible for the free premium subscription on

But enough chatter. On with the winners!

DSCN0889You'll recognize the team of Kris and Ryan Kelly from last month -- Yes, we have repeat first-place winners! Great work Kris and Ryan! I'm especially thrilled to learn that they live and work around my home town of Philadelphia (GO E-A-G-L-E-S!) We'll post all their work after the jump, but first a little bit more about them:
My wife Kris and I are excited and honored to have won HDYK again! This month's particular trivia hunt was in her wheelhouse, as she's the resident puzzle fan in our household. She solves puzzles every day in her job as an analyst and unofficial Excel guru for Bank of America "“ and luckily for her we live in Philadelphia, which has been home to the National Sudoku Championship since its inception in 2007. Kris has competed in the advanced category all three years and she's finished every puzzle in her allotted time; her passionate pursuit of the things she loves is one of many reasons I'm amazingly proud of her. Also, Will Shortz once said "hi" to me as we walked past each other (true story!).

I'm usually of more help with the quiz/pop culture stuff "“ especially sports, which I love and get to live daily as a producer at NFL Films. As a parent of an amazing 16-month old, I don't get to do much (or really any) bar trivia anymore ("quizzo" in Philly), but as students at Penn once upon a time, my friends and I had fun and even occasional success playing at the legendary "Pennstitution" Smokey Joe's.

Thanks again to Mental Floss for putting together HDYK and for giving us the opportunity to compete and have fun! Can't wait "˜till next month!

Final Answer

The one of the list that's not a familiar alias for Santa Claus is WunderKlaas.

Day 1


Based on John Steinbeck, the answer from D1L2 last month, the unscrambled titles are:

The Long Valley (leftover E)

Of Mice and Men (leftover T)

The Wayward bus (leftover E)

Cannery Row (leftover T)

Tortilla Flat (leftover R)

The Grapes of Wrath (leftover L)

Cup of Gold (leftover A)

East of Eden (leftover P)

Once there was a war (leftover H)

The leftover letters, ETETRLAPH can be unscrambled to get The Pearl, with the last leftover letter of T.

Thanks google and amazon for a list of john Steinbeck titles!


Using a process of elimination on what numbers can go where, the final puzzle reads like this:

Top row: 3 "“ 5

Middle row: 7 "“ 1 "“ 8 "“ 2

Bottom row: 4 "“ 6

The last name then decodes as follows:

Position1 "“ position 2 = 7 "“ 4 = 3 = the letter C

Position 5 x position 6 = 5 x 3 = 15 = the letter O

Position 3 x position 4 = 3 x 4 = 12 = the letter L

Position 1 + position 6 + position 8 = 7 + 3 + 8 = 18 = the letter R

Position 8 "“ position 1 = 8 "“ 7 = 1 = the letter A

Position 1 x position 4 = 7 x 2 = 14 = the letter N

Position 8 "“ position 6 = 8 "“ 3 = 5 = the letter E

Adding those to the given letter T we get


Day 2


Using the musical code, we decipher the Johns as:

1. Lennon

2. Williams

3. Bach

4. McLaughlin

5. Philip Sousa

Using those John's as well as Coltrane from D1L2, we line them up to read the word Teacup in the shaded boxes.


Cover 1 (Sousa) from the original on the left to the copy on the right you've changed:

a) removed the letters CD from under the number 2 in the top left corner

b) removed the letter S from the word marches in the title

c) removed the periods between the G A C in the name of the Lt Col

d) removed a piece of the building overhang from the bottom right, right under the word Col

Cover 2 (Bach) from the original on the right to the copy on the left you've changed:

a) Removed the letter S from the word Toccatas in the title

b) removed the belly button from the right-most angel-type creature at the bottom

c) removed two wire support things connecting the bottom left portion of the building to wingy thing above it

d) removed a wire support thing from the section right about the head of the right-most angely thing

Cover 3 (Lennon) from the original on the left to the copy on the right you've changed:

a) Removed John's necklace

b) removed the 2nd from the bottom button from his shirt

c) removed a button looking thing from the left side of her coat, just to the left of the white stripey things

d) removed something from under his hand at the very left of the cover "“ part of her coat maybe?

Cover 4 (Coltrane) from the original on the right to the copy on the left you've changed:

a) Removed the stem from the T in the word stereo at the top

b) removed the apostrophe from coltrane's in the title at the top

c) removed the signature from the left side about 2/3 down, just above a redish blue-ish line

d) removed a black blob from the right side about 1/3 down, just below the long blue vertical blob

Cover 5 (Williams) from the original on the right to the copy on the left you've changed:

a) removed the letter K from the word soundtrack at the top

b) added a roman number I to the title to make it Episode II instead of Episode I

c) removed the word "˜by' from the bottom "˜composed and conducted by'

d) removed 2 different trademark symbols after Star Wars and The Phantom Menace

Day 3

The first picture is Tom Lehrer's The Elements Song, set to the Major General's Song from Pirates of Penzance.

The second pictures is Gilda Radner on the Muppet Show where she sings the Major General Song with a giant carrot.

The third picture is of the musical "The Frogs", which was adapted from The frogs of Aristophanes. One line from the major general song is "I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes".

Additionally, September 19 is talk like a pirate day!

So, the four word phrase is The Pirates of Penzance


The elements are:

Antimony ("¦better thAN TIM ON Yesterdays"¦)

Neon ("¦attending a oNE-ON-one tutoring"¦)

Radon ("¦Professor ElezRA. DON't you"¦)

Lead ("¦Sue pLEADed"¦)

Iron (TheIR ONly problem"¦)

Tin ("¦disappoinTINg.)

Gold ("¦my carinG OLD buddy"¦)

Cobalt ("¦JaCOB, ALTered his"¦)

Nickel ("¦the picNIC KELly"¦)

Day 4


The Christmas tree puzzle reads from the top


1669 "“ 1262

928 "“ 741 "“ 521

499 "“ 429 "“ 312 "“ 209

260 "“ 239 "“ 190 "“ 122 "“ 87

132 "“ 128 "“ 111 "“ 79 "“ 43 "“ 44

63 "“ 69 "“ 59 "“ 52 "“ 27 "“ 16 "“ 28

24 "“ 39 "“ 30 "“ 29 "“ 23 "“ 4 "“ 12 "“ 16

6 "“ 18 "“ 21 "“ 9 "“ 20 "“ 3 "“ 1 "“ 11 "“ 5

I solved this one with a little algebra, starting at the top, that gave me definite answers all the way down to the second to last row. The bottom row, I believe, has second solution, but that one spells Hpwgvacik. Since that doesn't make any sense, this is the correct solution and spells Fruitcake.


Thank goodness for the Facebook clues that gave us the answers, because I was getting nowhere without them!

Song 1: "In that old silk hat" comes from "Frosty the Snowman"

Song 2: "Charming as an eel" comes from The Grinch theme song

Song 3: "Be good for goodness sake" is from Santa Claus is coming to town

Song 4: "Two turtle doves" is from the 12 days of Christmas

Song 5: "City sidewalks" is from Silver Bells.

Day 5


Lat Deg: 38 "“ the long valley was first published in 1938

Lat Min: 7 "“ the red circle placed in the number 1 was 7

Lat Sec:8 "“ the leftmost number in the tree is 24, 2x4 = 8

Long Deg: -86 - the third element found in the story is radon, atomic number 86. Made that negative

Long Min : 55 john Coltrane played the saxophone, he married his first wife in 1955

Long Sec: 0

We find ourselves near Santa Claus Indiana, near E Christmas Blvd!


The one of the list that's not a familiar alias for Santa Claus is WunderKlaas

Final Answer: WunderKlaas!

This was another fun one, thanks!

Kris and Ryan Kelly

Original image
10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
Original image

Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.


Rice cakes wrapped in leaves.

The earliest form of trick-or-treating on Halloween can be traced back to Europe in the Middle Ages. Kids would don costumes and go door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives in exchange for snacks called "soul cakes." When the cake was eaten, tradition held that a soul was ferried from purgatory into heaven. Souling has disappeared from Ireland and the UK, but a version of it lives on halfway across the world in the Philippines. During All Saints Day on November 1, Filipino children taking part in Pangangaluluwa will visit local houses and sing hymns for alms. The songs often relate to souls in purgatory, and carolers will play the part of the souls by asking for prayers. Kids are sometimes given rice cakes called suman, a callback to the soul cakes from centuries past.


Raw dough.

Instead of trick-or-treating, kids in Portugal go door-to-door saying pão-por-deus ("bread for god") in exchange for goodies on All Saints Day. Some homeowners give out money or candy, while others offer actual baked goods.


Kids trick-or-treating.

If they're not calling out "trick-or-treat" on their neighbors’ doorsteps on Halloween night, you may hear children in western Canada saying "Halloween apples!" The phrase is left over from a time when apples were a common Halloween treat and giving out loose items on the holiday wasn't considered taboo.


The Dutch wait several days after Halloween to do their own take on trick-or-treating. On the night of November 11, St. Martin's Day, children in the Netherlands take to the streets with their homemade lanterns in hand. These lanterns were traditionally carved from beets or turnips, but today they’re most commonly made from paper. And the kids who partake don’t get away with shouting a few words at each home they visit—they’re expected to sing songs to receive their sugary rewards.


Guy Fawkes Night celebration.

Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Guy Fawkes Night is seen by some as the English Protestants’ answer to the Catholic holidays associated with Halloween, so it makes sense that it has its own spin on trick-or-treating. November 5 marks the day of Guy Fawkes’s failed assassination attempt on King James as part of the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the occasion, children will tour the neighborhood asking for "a penny for the guy." Sometimes they’ll carry pictures of the would-be-assassin which are burned in the bonfires lit later at night.


Kids knocking on a door in costume.

If kids in the St. Louis area hope to go home with a full bag of candy on Halloween, they must be willing to tickle some funny bones. Saying "tricks-for-treats" followed by a joke replaces the classic trick-or-treat mantra in this Midwestern city. There’s no criteria for the quality or the subject of the joke, but spooky material (What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!) earns brownie points.


Sugar skulls with decoration.

While Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is completely separate from Halloween, the two holidays share a few things in common. Mexicans celebrate the day by dressing up, eating sweet treats, and in some parts of the country, going house-to-house. Children knocking on doors will say "me da para mi calaverita" or "give me money for my little skull," a reference to the decorated sugar skulls sold in markets at this time of year.


Kids dressed up for Halloween.

Trick-or-treaters like to keep things simple in the Canadian province of Quebec. In place of the alliterative exclamation, they shout “Halloween!” at each home they visit. Adults local to the area might remember saying "la charité s’il-vous-plaît "(French for “charity, please”) when going door-to-door on Halloween, but this saying has largely fallen out of fashion.


Little girl trick-or-treating.

Halloween is only just beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Where it is celebrated, the holiday looks a lot like it does in America, but Germans have managed to inject some local character into their version of trick-or-treat. In exchange for candy, kids sometimes sing out "süß oder saures"—or "sweet and sour" in English.


Kids dressed up for Halloween.
Rubí Flórez, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kids in Colombia anticipate dressing up and prowling the streets on Halloween just as much as kids do in the States. There are a few significant variations on the annual tradition: Instead of visiting private residencies, they're more likely to ask for candy from store owners and the security guards of apartment buildings. And instead of saying trick-or-treat, they recite this Spanish rhyme:

Triqui triqui Halloween
Quiero dulces para mí
Si no hay dulces para mí
Se le crece la naríz

In short, it means that if the grownups don't give the kids the candy they're asking for, their noses will grow. Tricky, tricky indeed

Original image
Mill Creek Entertainment
Hey, Vern: It's the Ernest P. Worrell Story
Original image
Mill Creek Entertainment

In her review of the 1991 children’s comedy Ernest Scared Stupid, The Washington Post film critic Rita Kempley described the titular character, the dim-witted but well-meaning Ernest P. Worrell, as “the global village idiot.” As portrayed by Kentucky native Jim Varney, Ernest was in the middle of a 10-film franchise that would see him mistakenly incarcerated (Ernest Goes to Jail), enlisting in the military (Ernest in the Army), substituting for an injured Santa (Ernest Saves Christmas), and returning to formal education in order to receive his high school diploma (Ernest Goes to School).

Unlike slapstick contemporaries Yahoo Serious and Pauly Shore, Varney took a far more unusual route to film stardom. With advertising executive John Cherry III, Varney originated the Ernest character in a series of regional television commercials. By one estimate, Ernest appeared in over 6000 spots, hawking everything from ice cream to used cars. They grew so popular that the pitchman had a 20,000-member fan club before his first movie, 1987’s Ernest Goes to Camp, was even released.

Varney and Ernest became synonymous, so much so that the actor would dread going on dates for fear Ernest fans would approach him; he sometimes wore disguises to discourage recognition. Though he could recite Shakespeare on a whim, Varney was rarely afforded the opportunity to expand his resume beyond the denim-jacketed character. It was for this reason that Varney, though grateful for Ernest’s popularity, would sometimes describe his notoriety as a “mixed blessing,” one that would come to a poignant end foreshadowed by one of his earliest commercials.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1949, Varney spent his youth being reprimanded by teachers who thought his interest in theater shouldn’t replace attention paid to math or science. Varney disagreed, leaving high school just two weeks shy of graduation (he returned in the fall for his diploma) to head for New York with $65 in cash and a plan to perform.

The off-Broadway plays Varney appeared in were not lucrative, and he began to bounce back and forth between Kentucky and California, driving a truck when times were lean and appearing in TV shows like Petticoat Junction when his luck improved. During one of his sabbaticals from Hollywood, he met Cherry, who cast him as an aggressive military instructor named Sergeant Glory in an ad for a car dealer in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1981, Varney was asked back to film a new spot for Cherry, this one for a dilapidated amusement park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that Cherry considered so unimpressive he didn’t want to show it on camera. Instead, he created the character of Ernest P. Worrell, a fast-talking, often imbecilic local who is constantly harassing his neighbor Vern. (“Know what I mean, Vern?” became Ernest’s catchphrase.)

The spot was a hit, and soon Varney and Cherry were being asked to film spots for Purity Dairies, pizza parlors, convenience stores, and other local businesses. In the spots, Ernest would usually look into the camera—the audience shared Vern’s point of view—and endorse whatever business had enlisted his services, usually stopping only when Vern devised a way to get him out of sight.

Although the Purity commercials initially drew complaints—the wide-angle lens created a looming Ernest that scared some children—his fame grew, and Varney became a rarity in the ad business: a mascot without a permanent corporate home. He and Cherry would film up to 26 spots in a day, all targeted for a specific region of the country. In some areas, people would call television stations asking when the next Ernest spot was due to air. A Fairfax, Virginia Toyota dealership saw a 50 percent spike in sales after Varney began appearing in ads.

Logging thousands of spots in hundreds of markets, Varney once said that if they had all been national, he and Cherry would have been wealthy beyond belief. But local spots had local budgets, and the occasions where Ernest was recruited for a major campaign were sometimes prohibited by exclusivity contracts: He and Cherry had to turn down Chevrolet due to agreements with local, competing car dealers.

Still, Varney made enough to buy a 10-acre home in Kentucky, expressing satisfaction with the reception of the Ernest character and happily agreeing to a four-picture deal with Disney’s Touchstone Pictures for a series of Ernest features. Released on a near-constant basis between 1987 and 1998, the films were modest hits (Ernest Goes to Camp made $28 million) before Cherry—who directed several of them—and Varney decided to strike out on their own, settling into a direct-to-video distribution model.

“It's like Oz, and the Wizard ain't home," Varney told the Sun Sentinel in 1985, anticipating his desire for autonomy. “Hollywood is a place where everything begins but nothing originates. It's this big bunch of egos slamming into each other.”

Varney was sometimes reticent to admit he had ambitions beyond Ernest, believing his love of Shakespeare and desire to perform Hamlet would be perceived as the cliched story of a clown longing to be serious. He appeared in 1994’s The Beverly Hillbillies and as the voice of Slinky Dog in 1995’s Toy Story. But Ernest would continue to be his trademark.

The movies continued through 1998, at which point Varney noticed a nagging cough. It turned out to be lung cancer. As Ernest, Varney had filmed an anti-smoking public service announcement in the 1980s. In his private life, he was a chain smoker. He succumbed to cancer in 2000 at the age of 50, halting a series of planned Ernest projects that included Ernest Goes to Space and Ernest and the Voodoo Curse.

Varney may never have gotten an opportunity to perform in a wider variety of roles, but he did receive some acknowledgment for the one he had mastered. In 1989, Varney took home an Emmy for Outstanding Performer in a children’s series, a CBS Saturday morning show titled Hey, Vern: It’s Ernest!

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” he told the Orlando Sentinel in 1991, “because it's as hard to escape from it as it is to get into it.''


More from mental floss studios