Solution: Consolation Prize

Written by Rahul Sridhar, Anderson Wang, and Jon Schneider
Special thanks to Megan T. Cookie and Otto Clicker

This is the meta for the first set of twelve puzzles in the hunt.

When we first open the puzzle, we’re greeted with the images of one or more cookies. Eventually, we’ll discover that the cookies displayed change in response to our team’s current cookie count. If we gather enough data, we can deduce what’s going on: there are twelve different cookie types, each of which corresponds to a unique number between 1 and 12; the image for the cookie type corresponding to the number n is displayed if and only if our cookie count is divisible by n.

For example, the cookie type corresponding to 7 is the ladyfinger. We’ll find that if our cookie count is a multiple of 7, a ladyfinger will always be displayed. Similarly, the oatmeal raisin cookie, which corresponds to 1, is always displayed.

Furthermore, each of the twelve puzzle answers corresponds to one of the cookie types in some manner. For example, the answer to Math 101, POLYDACTYLY, is a condition involving extra fingers, so it corresponds to the ladyfinger cookie.

#Cookie TypeAnswerPuzzleCookie Connection
1Oatmeal RaisinMUESLIEverything and MoreMuesli is a breakfast food involving oats.
2Gingerbread MenREDHEADEmotion PicturesRedheads are (sometimes offensively) referred to as “gingers.”
3ChessmenPAWNStackablesA pawn is a chess piece.
4Animal CrackersMENAGERIEParlorA menagerie contains several types of animals.
5Thin MintsSKINNYTry and EatSkinny is a synonym of thin.
6Fig NewtonsGRAVITYAn Eccentric CrosswordIsaac Newton formulated the laws of gravity.
7Lady FingersPOLYDACTYLYMath 101Polydactyly is a condition involving extra fingers.
8Christmas CookiesMISTLETOESpecial SnowflakeMistletoe is a Christmas decoration.
9Sugar CookiesDEOXYRIBOSESequencingDeoxyribose is a type of sugar.
10Black and WhiteTHENEWYORKTIMESTriggerThe New York Times, like most newspapers, was originally printed in black and white.
11Peanut Butter CookiesGREATPUMPKINThe Wepp Perflontus Bake OffThe Great Pumpkin is an unseen figure in the Peanuts comic strips.
12Fortune CookiesTRILLIONAIREInterstate CommerceTrillionaires have quite a large fortune.

To extract the final answer, order the puzzle answers by their corresponding number and join together the nth letter of the nth puzzle answer. For example, the 7th letter of our answer would be the 7th letter of POLYDACTYLY, which is C. This extraction technique is often called diagonalization.

#AnswerExtracted Letter

Doing this produces the phrase ME WANT COOKIE, which is our final answer and an indication that the secret identity of the rogue COOKIECOOKIECOOKIE team is the Cookie Monster!

Author’s Notes

One amusing and unforeseen consequence of this meta was that teams who were running auto-clickers had a much more difficult time with this puzzle! We know of several teams that thought that the cookies displayed were random and ended up solving it with frequency analysis. This turned out to be how our hunt “punished” teams for using auto-clickers, though none of us realized this until it happened during the hunt.