There are so many things to celebrate in December: Hanukkah (usually), Christmas, Kwanzaa, the Solstice, Beethoven’s birthday (yesterday, Dec. 16th), and this year, the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle. Edward Wynne, an Englishman by birth, was asked to create a word puzzle game for the New York World newspaper comics page. He did so and called it “word-cross.” When it went to press the name got flip-flopped to “cross-word” somehow and that’s what it stayed. The first one appeared in the paper on December 21, 1913, but according to Will Shortz, crossword puzzle editor for the NY Times, it wasn’t until publishers Simon and Schuster got into the game that they truly became popular. “One of them had an aunt who was a big fan of the crosswords in the World, and she suggested they do a book of crosswords,” said Shortz. “They went to the puzzle editors at the World, and the trio of editors there put together the world’s first crossword book.”
Read more about the history of crosswords here. For even more, check out EPL’s book From Square One by Dean Olsher. And for diehard fans, here’s a link to the NY Times Crossword Puzzle Blog.