Times 28839 – pets and pests

Another fun-filled Wednesday, with some tricky parsing but nothing obscure.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Lever end off pack (some chocolate?) (7)
CROWBAR – CROW[D] = pack, end off, BAR of chocolate.
5 In darkness, makes cuts in middle of speech (7)
ECLIPSE – [sp]EE[ch] with CLIPS = makes cuts, inside.
9 Terce and sext for example, or a longer stretch of the day (6,5)
OFFICE HOURS – double definition, Church offices for prayer and time in the business office.
10 Fitting carpet that’s oddly defective (3)
APT – alternate letters as above.
11 Make a fuss in front of awful island houses (6)
CREATE – A[wful] inside CRETE an island.
12 Bailiff seizes pair, one let off (8)
REPRIEVE – a REEVE is an old term for bailiff, insert PR I for pair, one.
14 Amazing reductions at start of day, but not one for DIYers? (5,8)
17 Rural rail line a fine thing at first (7-6)
CRACKER-BARREL –  well a CRACKER is a fine thing, and a BARRE is a rail fixed to a wall e.g. used by ballet dancers. With L for line. I thought Cracker Barrel was an expensive cut of pre-packed cheese from Kraft, (and in UK it was), but apparently it’s also an American expression for a rural restaurant chain or country store, arising from the idea of local yokels chatting “around a cracker barrel”, whatever that is. See:
21 Black cats on island left in large numbers (8)
BILLIONS – B[lack], LIONS (cats), insert I[sland], L[eft].
23 Turned a limb to ice (6)
GELATO -A LEG turned = GEL A, TO. Italian ice cream.
25 I’m surprised garden barrier’s lost a little height (3)
AHA – [H]AHA, a haha being a ditch as a barrier in a garden or in parkland.
26 Filthy rag is smudging party decorations (5,6)
27 Wanted to be free of parent? (7)
DESIRED – if you were DE-SIRED, you’d have a parent removed.
28 Finally ad caused a run on revolutionary mousetrap? (7)
CHEDDAR – CHE (our usual revolutionary), D D (ends of ad caused) A R[un]. In my experience, which is both wide and current, dogs like cheese best and mice prefer chocolate biscuits.
1 Get down right inside sofa (6)
CROUCH – R inside COUCH.
2 Start to thump eccentric (7)
OFFBEAT – OFF = start, BEAT = thump.
3 Rhymes in reverse (9)
BACKTRACK – two rhyming words for the answer.
4 Personnel supporting sport in Dortmund area (4)
RUHR -RU (Rugby Union), HR (human resources, more sensibly called personnel in my day.
5 For church unity Alice originally entertains Christian Union types (10)
ECUMENICAL – insert C U MEN into (ALICE)*.
6 Sort of printer that turns up in fire sale (5)
LASER – hidden reversed.
7 Even out till the early hours, apostle briefly pops round (7)
PLATEAU – LATE (till the early hours) inside PAU[L].
8 Plea to have dinner in lobby (8)
13 Remember inconclusive direction, one in a Shakespeare play (4,2,4)
BEAR IN MIND – BEARIN[G] = direction, not concluded;  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, often known as MND, insert I for one. I spent too long trying to think of a WS play with words of 4, 2, 4 letters.
15 Monk peaceful to hear, taking cream (9)
CARMELITE – CARM sounds like CALM, (to some people), ELITE = cream.
16 Boring way to transfer funds over, but one draws from it (8)
SCABBARD – all reversed (over); DRAB (boring) BACS (free bank transfer method in UK).
18 Foolish king within almost too attentive (3,4)
ALL EARS – King LEAR inside ALS[O] = almost too.
19 Drained lake, every weed regularly pulled out (7)
LEACHED – L[ake], EACH (every), [w]E[e]D.
20 Cat taking advantage of medic? (6)
MOUSER – an MO (Medical Officer) USER.
22 Work out with hellish new gangster away (5)
INFER – hellish = INFERNAL, remove N[ew] and AL [Capone].
24 Principal elements of strategy youth never could coordinate (4)
SYNC – initial letters as above.


91 comments on “Times 28839 – pets and pests”

  1. I didn’t find this at all easy and at times I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish it without resorting to aids. I got there eventually with 46 minutes on the clock as I entered my LOI, CARMELITE. My slowness in spotting the long answers was responsible for most of my difficulties: OFFICE HOURS, TRADE DISCOUNT, CRACKER-BARREL, BACKTRACK, BEAR IN MIND and CARMELITE.

    I wondered if there was a theme going on with cat / MOUSER, mousetrap / CHEDDAR and CRACKER-BARREL – which as Pip mentioned is a brand of cheddar in the UK – but I discounted this as a coincidence whilst enjoying it nonetheless as far as it went.

  2. I found the top half very easy and raced through it, and then had to grind the bottom part out much more slowly. Funny that we had MOUSER and CHEDDAR intersecting in the bottom right, both with mouse-trappy sort of clues. I had no idea what a BACS was but trusted it was some bank transfer method like SWIFT. But for once no unknowns, no typos, and all green.

  3. 30:47, just outside my half hour target which was annoying! I was held up by the NW corner which took me a good 10 minutes with LOI OFFICE HOURS, I guess terce and sext are 9 to 5.
    I thought this was another good and challenging puzzle which I enjoyed a lot.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  4. I’m in Jack’s camp on this, and like him I wondered if I’d get there. I eventually did in the rather surprising time of 34.15 when a whole lot went in at once but this was a real work-out. A few NHOs were a serious problem, like A = awful, MND = the play, BACS = something. As for CRACKER BARREL, seriously? A few of the checkers made me think of the cheese so I biffed it, but still don’t really get it as a definition for rural. Thank you piquet. Did you enjoy being an answer recently? I didn’t know you were a card game, I thought you were an F1 driver from the 80s…

      1. Oh yeah. I was just going off the way the answer was phrased in the blog, forgetting that I had figured it out while solving!

        1. At the time I was setting up my own consulting firm (mid 80s) I went to the IOM Gov registry to register a name, the good ones including PK Consulting were gone, I was at the time a big Nelson Piquet fan and also had played the card game with an old aunt; and piquet sounds like PK. So you’re correct, I am both…
          Pip Kirby

    1. Cracker barrel is actually quite clever. It’s a self-deprecatingly named chain of restaurants in the American south – where rural inhabitants are derided as ‘Crackers’.

  5. 34 minutes with LOI LEACHED. I thought I was back at Burnden Park when the first thing I read was ‘lever end’. I only knew CRACKER-BARREL as the pre-packed cheese too and it was POI from crossers. I assume our setter has recently had a small rodent problem. I imagine some will have hated the MND usage, but I got it so COD to BEAR IN MIND. Enjoyably quirky. Thank you setter and Pip.

  6. I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
    In forty minutes
    (MND apparently)

    … or spend forty minutes (mid-brekker) trying to fathom MND and Barre.
    Trade Discount made it all worthwhile.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  7. 43:59. A bit of a struggle for me too, until suddenly it was all done with only the unlikely CRACKER-BARREL to write in, because it couldn’t be anything else. I knew the cheese, but not the rural American stuff. BACKTRACK surprised me; I don’t know if I like it or not

  8. Just under 30′. A lot of quite easy clues mixed with a few stinkers (for me anyway). CRACKER BARREL went in after having most of the crossers; assumed the cheese product was named after something rural. The faintest of recollections gave me HOURS from which I worked out OFFICE. I did know MND but the parsing came post-solve. I only knew of CARMELITE nuns, but suppose they must let men in too. Enjoyable. Thanks Piquet and setter.

  9. 25:34 A slow start and a slow finish provided the bookends to a slow middle bit.

    I couldn’t quite trust CRACKER-BARREL, having missed the ballet reference, so that was LOI. Not helped at all by having an unparsed KEEP IN MIND in place for way too long.

    Didn’t have a clue what was happening with OFFICE HOURS. Still don’t actually, but it was eventually resolved by checkers.

    A tough pre-season workout. Thanks Pip and setter.

    1. The ‘divine offices’ are prayers or services held at fixed hours, and terce (the third hour of the day) and sext (the sixth) are two such hours. I knew this in very vague terms, this more precise explanation comes courtesy of Chambers.

        1. Yeah for me it’s under ‘things I recognise from previous puzzles with a vague sense of what they mean’. I will also forget the more precise version by the time it comes up again.

      1. So it’s barely cryptic then? You could insert this clue into the concise as ‘Terce and Sext for example’ and that gives you the answer-literally.

        1. Fair point. I suppose it’s a kind of double definition in which the first is obscure and the second relies on the first. The more I think about it the less I like it.

  10. Just under 20 minutes.

    NHO CRACKER-BARREL (or barre as a rail) but it sounded vaguely plausible; didn’t parse OFFICE HOURS or BEAR IN MIND (where for some reason I thought the clue might be referring to the famous stage direction “Exit, pursued by a bear”); didn’t realise there can be CARMELITE monks as well as nuns; biffed ECUMENICAL then parsed it.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Apt
    LOI Gelato
    COD Fairy lights

        1. Please, Andy, explain WHY you dislike the bard so much! I’ve a new friend who said this to me recently and, as a devotee, I dropped her immediately. There must be some reasoning behind this assertion…

    1. Me too. I concluded that either it was a poor clue, or a clever one that I didn’t understand, and I’d not heard the abbreviation MND.

  11. On paper with no accurate time but a minimum of 45′.

    A definite game of two halves. I raced through most of this and then found myself staring at the last few for an interminable time.

    The SW was a difficult nut to crack. BEAR IN MIND took far too long and I didn’t get the MND reference until reading the blog. CRACKER BARREL was an unknown, as was the contributing BARRE. Last in was SCABBARD which required all the checkers to be in place, with AHA in from the start but without getting the meaning of HAHA.

    The blog was more than required today so thanks to piquet and to the setter for the challenge.

  12. US slang and idioms seem to be encroaching increasingly on this bastion of English English. It’s bad enough that (largely thanks to Disney and Hollywood) our young now say ‘eeew’ instead of ‘urgh’ and frequently trot out phrases like ‘wait, what?’ and ‘my bad,’ without the ToL crossword joining in. Among this UK demographic, as is clear from the comments above, CRACKER BARREL means a now-discontinued Kraft cheese product, so the definition was impenetrable in this clue. Less of the Americana please!

    This slightly spoiled an otherwise excellent crossword for me, with COD jointly going to OFFICE HOURS and TRADE DISCOUNT. Got home in 44:19, slowed down by the mousy SE corner. Thanks to setter and blogger alike.

  13. 17.42 with AHA the LOI – obvious enough from the definition & crossers but I wanted the parse to be sure. The definition for CREATE seemed two words too long, which threw me. I also stared at CROUCH for rather longer than necessary.

    TRADE DISCOUNT was my pick.

    Thanks Piquet and setter.

  14. 19:44. Slow going, but I got there. NHO that meaning of CRACKER BARREL but the wordplay gave me the answer. Left BEAR IN MIND until I had the checkers as I couldn’t parse it. COD to TRADE DISCOUNTS but I liedk teh sirface for LASER too. Thanks Pip and setter.

  15. 38 minutes. Hard enough to feel a sense of achievement on finishing, so I liked this one.

    I remembered ‘Terce and sext’ as something ecclesiastical but that was about it so needed crossers for OFFICE HOURS. I didn’t know BARRE for ‘rail’ and had forgotten the ‘Rural’ sense of CRACKER-BARREL; it turns out this was in the previous puzzle alluded to by Jack and was well explained by Guy in the blog comments. (BTW, I’m munching on some CRACKER-BARREL (Extra Sharp so the package says) with yes, crackers, while typing this – true). Like Rowlie26, SCABBARD was my LOI; the BACS acronym was new but with the rest of the letters the ‘one draws from it’ finally made sense.

  16. 27′, with one typo. CRACKER BARREL only possible answer, no idea what it was meant to mean. I was slow on OFFICE HOURS. I had tried ‘have in mind’ ‘keep in mind’ and ‘call to mind’ before the penny dropped – a famous Shakespeare stage direction involved a bear.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  17. 42:56. I struggled with this. Not too sure why. I had PETER as the my apostle for a time that wasn’t brief enough – instead of PAUL. Paul wasn’t one of the original 12 apostles but Dr Google (and no doubt many theologians) tells me he is designated as an apostle.


  18. Defeated by CRACKER-BARREL (WTF?), OFFBEAT and OFFICE HOURS. Had the HOURS but just couldn’t see what went in front of it. Hey ho.

  19. No undue problems; although nho the Americanism cracker-barrel, and I thought the “one in a Shakespeare play” must be referring to the bear! As in, “Exit, pursued by a …
    BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing Service) a write-in, I was once a director thereof

  20. 13:01. Tricky one.
    By a remarkable coincidence I came across this meaning of CRACKER BARREL yesterday in the book I am reading (DH Donald’s biography of Lincoln). I wasn’t familiar with it, but was familiar with the cheese brand and the North American restaurant chain, so I spent a bit of time looking into the etymology. One thing I came across was a 1913 advertisement for a brand of soda crackers sold in packets, which urged the reader not to buy crackers from the ‘dusty, handled, open barrel next to the kerosene can’. They really did literally sell crackers in a barrel.

  21. Back to earth with a bump.

    Defeated by several including CRACKER BARREL, OFFICE HOURS, OFFBEAT.

    No staying power, I get disheartened and give up instead of chipping away at the clue. Must improve!


  22. Beaten by the long ones, despite plenty of checkers. TRADE DISCOUNT, CRACKER-BARREL, BACKTRACK, BEAR IN MIND and CARMELITE.

    MND, seriously? Acronyms were unknown in Shakespeares time, and for the next 300 years as well.

    Not a fan of clues with the right words, but not necessary in the right order ( E. Morecambe). CREATE, clued as “ front of awful island houses”, should be “island houses front of awful”. So it has to be constructed as “front of awful: island houses”, which is clumsy at best. Yoda-speak, acceptable not.

      1. I can’t read all of this (don’t have an account) but I hope it includes the sentence ‘Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo’.

          1. I don’t think so.
            The buffalo from Buffalo who are buffaloed by buffalo from Buffalo buffalo other buffalo from Buffalo in their turn.

              1. I’ve quoted it before but here goes again. A puzzle from my Dad’s 1930s Weekend Book for Boys:
                Smith where Jones had had had had had had had had had had had the examiner’s approval. Punctuate.

      2. To be honest, if ‘that’ wasn’t permitted to be elided, this whole cryptic crossword industry would soon go the way of Cracker Barrel.

    1. MND is not an acronym. ‘front of awful island houses’ is a kind of locution frequently used here, so as the poet says, deal with it. ‘island houses front of awful’ may not be Yoda-speak, but it’s not English either.

  23. It seems that when one tries to find out what a cracker barrel actually is one is sent (even Merriam-Webster does this) to something like ‘from the cracker barrel in country stores around which customers lounged for informal conversation’. Yes fine, but what actually is a cracker barrel? A barrel of crackers? What’s a cracker? A thing like a Christmas cracker? Or a whip, as has been suggested? A website called Snopes says ‘Late 19th century with reference to the barrels of soda crackers once found in country stores’. No very insuperable problems, but I was a bit slow on BEAR IN MIND and OFFICE HOURS, although I got the HOURS early on. 41 minutes.

  24. 27 mins. A bit stop, start and I thought I’d seized up halfway through, but somehow getting LEACHED allowed the whole of the rest of the crossword to fill up in minutes. LOI PLATEAU, needed the U to get it.

  25. If a clue requires a long explanation for the parsing (cracker-barrel) it is because it’s obscure.

  26. I confidently put “LEVERED” in at 19 down, which fitted the wordplay, and almost the definition. I realised the error when the fairy lights came on.

  27. 33 mins – I found this hard work, with everything needing a lot of decoding and very few write-ins. BEAR IN MIND is now my COD, though I only saw the logic of it on reading the blog, but I did like the image of the manipulative cat.

  28. Quite a tricky one after yesterday’s piece of cake. Another who had to guess at the meaning of CRACKER BARREL. I think we were fortunate with the crossers – there is little more dispiriting than to be faced with a sea of Es and As rather than unusual consonants. Thanks to setter and Pip for the elucidation.

  29. I was surprised at my 20.19 for this rural railway of a crossword, meandering around the dictionary with lots of stops in odd places. I thought it was a much longer journey. CALL TO MIND (I remembered MND at least) didn’t help, and not much happened until the simple-clever BACK TRACK gave some hooks to hang answers on.
    I was aware (courtesy Heinlein) of cracker box cheap housing, so sticking a barrel on it wasn’t too much of a strain. We used to get our crackers (biscuits really) from open tin boxes from Oakley’s the grocer in St Albans. How did we survive the H&S implications?
    As to the discussion about CARM sounding like calm – “that would be an ecumenical matter”.

  30. No time, but well over a half-hour. I was surprised to see CRACKER-BARREL; surprised, and not best pleased. MER at REEVE=bailiff. There is a set of standard abbreviations for Shakespeare’s plays (TN=Twelfth Night , Rom=Romeo & Juliet, etc.), of which MND is one; but they’re used only in writing about Shakespeare; MND really doesn’t belong here. LASER is not a type of printer; a laser printer is a type of printer. I liked TRADE DISCOUNT.

    1. Just had a spooky experience searching the archive for MND which I knew had come up before. The first 6 ‘hits’ are all puzzles blogged by Pip (piquet) where the abbreviation either appeared in a clue, e.g. Remembering part in AMND: “… a girdle round about the earth”? (9,4), or a comment he made when explaining a clue relating to the Shakespeare play. He seems destined for this one!

    2. Kevin I disagree, e.g. “what sort of printer have you got? A laser or a dot matrix?” As a type of printer, to repeat “printer” is pedantic and unnecessary.
      If you said “what’s that on your desk?” then “a laser printer” would be appropriate and more accurate than “a laser”.

  31. DNF in 26 or so giving up on the second bit of CRACKER. If it came up in 2022 I’ve probably seen it before but it didn’t stick and BARRE was a DNK.

    Liked SCABBARD with that blast from the past BACS

    Thanks Piquet and setter

    Ps Kevin makes rather a good point about LASER when you think about it.

  32. 27:12
    Enjoyed this generally but was flying blind some of the time; Cracker Barrel cheese and the Winter’s Tale bear (I’ve never heard or seen MND used) . BACS brought back memories from my IT days.

    In the work sense, does OFFICE HOURS mean anything any more?

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  33. 33:12, not bad considering my usual panic at seeing anything ECUMENICAL-related in a crossword, and this had them aplenty. Who is the patron saint of cruciverbalists anyway?

    COD to BEAR IN MIND. The MND penny dropped like a ton of bricks for me. Didn’t know those kind of Shakespearean acronyms existed, or were allowed. Live and learn!

    On a quick glance over, I wondered whether this setter mightn’t be a fan of Graham Oakley’s ‘Sampson and the Church Mice’ series of children’s books, of which I have fond 70s memories. Cheese, mousers, church lingo and a crowbar all feature in their first outing. The basic premise is that of a church cat who’s heard so many sermons that he decides he’d rather be a friend to mice (no matter how they try his patience … and boy do they!). If you don’t know the books, but have kids of an age to appreciate them, here is the full series: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_Mice_series

    Oh, and there was a Carmelite called Samson!

    1. Patron saint of cruciverbalists? I couldn’t identify a specific one but we do have St Dymphna ( for mental stress and overthinking), St Rita of Cascia(hopeless causes), St Padre Pio(miracles), St Jude(impossible hardships), and St Joseph( challenging and difficult problems). I think if you were to ask all five to intercede you should be able to engineer some successful solves!

  34. Bit of a mixed bag for me – bottom half went in easily enough but the north west troubled me lots especially for some reason not being able to drag up couch as a synonym for sofa. Office hours bemused me completely so thx for the explanation – for a long time I had church hours as I thought it was vaguely churchy. Took over 40 minutes eventually.

    Thx p and setter

  35. Defeated by SCABBARD which I ended up revealing and was then none the wiser about the wordplay until I saw the blog – many thanks. NHO CRACKER BARREL so this was a lucky guess and I couldn’t parse this one either! The MND was equally baffling in BEAR IN MIND. Otherwise nearly fifty minutes of very enjoyable solving and parsing. Liked CHEDDAR and CARMELITE. Thanks all.

  36. 47:41

    Found this very hard – worked around the outside but found some of the longer answers very tricky. CRACKER BARREL (???), OFFICE HOURS (no idea about offices – I had PRAYER HOURS in until I couldn’t finish the NW corner) which spoilt the overall effect somewhat, and couldn’t spot how TRADE DISCOUNT worked – very well hidden. ECUMENICAL a bit poor as well using ‘originally’ as an anagrind – not every word works in the English language works….

    1. I liked ‘originally’! If something’s ‘original’ it’s novel (“that’s an original idea”), and novel/new are uncontroversial anagrinds as far as I know.

  37. am separated from my cheating machine. I only remembered looking up cracker barrel when I came to the blog so that biff showed up my poor memory! was confused between crackerjack (eamonn andrews) and the barrel.
    liked bear in mind, so cod.

  38. Pleased to finish under target at 42.15 hindered mainly by the sw corner. CRACKER BARREL held me up more than any other clue, and I had no idea of its definition.

  39. I started well and cruised through most of the clues, until I ran aground in the SW corner, eventually finishing in 31 minutes. Was unaware of the Murcan origin of CRACKER BARREL, but the crossers left little option. Overall, an enjoyable outing.
    FOI – APT
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  40. NHO MND. Did not parse CRACKER BARREL, and not sure I understand it even now. 3D seems pretty weak to me – ‘pick two of thousands of words which rhyme …’. The grid filled in easily enough, but sadly this was far from a satisfying 20 minutes.

  41. 30 mins for me so personal toughie of the week so far. I’ve heard of cracker barrel which I think is more of an American phrase but I recognised the country connection. LOI scabbard which was much easier to decipher with all the crossers in .

    Pretty good puzzle I thought, shame I wasn’t more on the wavelength.

  42. “In” as the first word, right before ECLIPSE—though it cannot be part of the definition—ruined that clue for me. Oh, I got it. I got everything. This was pretty easy until the last few clues (at a late hour here).

  43. Defeated by SCABBARD and CRACKER BARREL. I had never come across the meaning of the latter, and had biffed PINBOARD for the former (at a pinch one can draw pins from it, and a PIN may be necessary to transfer money.)

    Thanks for the blog.

  44. Laid up with flu (or something) so a very late start (18:30 GMT) for me. Managed to finish with no aids, which was pleasing, considering how I’m feeling. . FOI RUHR, POI OFFBEAT, LOI CREATE. COD OFFICE HOURS. Just bunged in BEAR IN MIND without even noticing the MND controversy. Failed to parse SCABBARD after biffing. No other problems.

  45. 46 minutes while treating myself to a late-night burger and fries at 5 Guys. Very enjoyable, both the burger and the puzzle.

  46. A lot of biffing. LOI REPRIEVE. Is RURAL really adequate for CRACKER-BARREL? Got there in 25’41”

  47. If cracker-barrel = rural doesn’t qualify as “obscure” then I don’t know what would. Also held up by finding SERIF backwards as well as LASER in the clue, but that’s my problem.

  48. Re CRACKER-BARREL, I’m an American who has lived in and traveled around the Southeastern US my entire life, so I’m very familiar with the restaurant and its place in Southern culture. I also immediately recognized that “rural” was the clue’s definition. And yet, that answer took far longer than it should have because, although not much else besides “CRACKER BARREL” could fit, I couldn’t for the life of me understand what the hyphen was doing there. Neither the restuarant nor the cheese is hyphenated. And despite my above-noted life experience, I’ve never once heard nor read the hyphenated adjectival form until googling it a few minutes ago. (Late-19th century origin, because of course.)

    Furthermore, it gave me pause that even CRACKER BARREL, let alone the hyphenated version, could be defined as rural because Cracker Barrel restaurants are intentionally not located in rural parts of the South. They’re almost always within a mile or two of an exit on a major interstate highway. (Map for reference: Cracker Barrels and Interstates) It would be like “waffle-house” meaning rural just because there’s a Waffle House near most interstate exits in the Southeast. (Just looked it up, and thankfully “waffle-house” as an adjective does not exist.)

    So yeah, I hated that clue. I get really frustrated when I’m doing a Times Cryptic and get stumped by British arcana, so I totally empathize with everyone’s frustrations about this bit of American arcana. CRACKER BARREL is definitely a thing. I’ve eaten there at least 50 times and driven by one at least 1,000 times more. CRACKER-BARREL is not a thing most anyone has ever heard or read, regardless of what the dictionary says.

    Hope that makes my cruciverbalist compatriots across the pond feel a bit better about their biffing.

  49. Wiktionary seems very specific:
    cracker-barrel (comparative more cracker-barrel, superlative most cracker-barrel)
    (US) Folksy; characteristic of simple small-town people.
    Synonyms: homespun, down-home

    cracker barrel (plural cracker barrels)
    A barrel for holding crackers.

    It also allows crackerbarrel (Alternative form of cracker-barrel)

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