July 2012

[Note added 2012/07/26 4:42PM EDT: The Spider-Man designs appear on only one side of each Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-It. Crackers were arranged design-side up.]


My friendly neighborhood Shop-Rite is carrying more and more varieties of Cheez-Its lately, but it didn’t take long to decide on The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its.

The top reasons? 

1. Serving size is a sum of consecutive squares.
2. Flavor is not Monterey Jack.
3. Spider-Man, Spider-Man!




Figure 1. A serving of The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its arranged as a frustum.
29 = 16 + 9 + 4


The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-It is not the perfect food, but it’s closer to it than Cheez-It BIG Monterey Jack. Spideys taste almost like the original, but they’re a little too hard and crunchy. I can’t imagine eating an entire box in one sitting.


Figure 2. The Pythagorean identity 3² + 4² = 5² was applied to the previous serving.
29 = 25 + 4

The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its are slightly less uniform in size and shape than regular Cheez-Its or Cheez-Its BIG. The crackers chosen for these figures are a more uniform sample than one would expect in a random serving.


Figure 3. Another sum-of-squares serving of The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its.
29 = 25 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1

Another Steve on the internet has written more about The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its, so I’ll just wrap up with two more arrangements. You should definitely head over to the other Steve’s blog when you’re done here.


Figure 4. One serving of The Amazing Spider-Man Cheez-Its. (Aztec arrangement)
29 = 9 + (1 + 9 + 1) + 9



Figure 5. A variation of Figure 4 with more symmetry.
29 = 9 + (1 + 9 + 1) + 9

Yes, you read it right: white people are more likely to marry other good people.

Just kidding!

Now that I have your attention, though, I hope you thought I was out of my mind. I may be, but for the record, I’m absolutely not saying that white people are good (and that non-white people aren’t). And geez, if I wanted to say that (which I don’t), I’d say it directly, not with underhanded rhetoric.

In the title, I wrote “white people . . . other good people.” That doesn’t even make sense, really.¹ It’s like talking about your other Range Rover when you only have one.

What did I mean by other good people when I hadn’t mentioned any particularly good people in the first place? Or had I?

Now read what David Brooks wrote earlier this week in the Opinion section of the New York Times:

Affluent, intelligent people are now more likely to marry other energetic, intelligent people.

Brooks mentioned “other energetic, intelligent people,” but he hadn’t mentioned any energetic, intelligent people in the first place; he’d only mentioned affluent, intelligent people.

Maybe Brooks didn’t notice his slip, because to him, the affluent people are the energetic people. Or maybe he intended to say flat out that poor people are lazy — which I think he believes — but he knew it would have been crude to say.

Even worse, saying that poor people are lazy, even if you believe it, wouldn’t have been “gentlemanly conduct.” Gentlemanly conduct is a thing the “best of the WASP elites” had, according to Brooks (in the same article). The WASP elites (and some Catholics) also thought the poor were lazy. They weren’t. They aren’t.

Why are 30 million Americans poor? To many the answer would be obvious: They are poor because they are lazy, or lack initiative, or prefer welfare to work.

Wrong, . . .

  — Jack Rosenthal, The New York Times, November 16, 1969.


¹ I’m not sure I’ve explained this clearly, so here’s an extended try. The construction “<adjective> people . . . other <adjective> people,” refers to some <adjective> people and then some additional <adjective> people of the same kind. For example: Tall people often date other tall people. Loud people sometimes even disturb other loud people. Clumsy people occasionally bump into other clumsy people.

On the other hand, to say “<adjective> people . . . other <different adjective> people” is a mistake, a ruse, or a (not necessarily good) joke. For example: Dumb people often marry other blondes. Homosexuals are more likely to marry other sailors.


As you know from my last and first How Do You Arrange Your Cheez-Its? post, not only are Sunshine Cheez-Its the perfect food, the serving size of Cheez-Its is 27 crackers, a perfect cube.

As the name suggests, Cheez-It BIG crackers are bigger¹ than Cheez-Its, and a serving contains fewer crackers — 14 instead of 27. While 14 is not a perfect cube, it is the sum of consecutive perfect squares, which is nearly as wonderful.



Figure 1. One serving of Cheez-Its BIG arranged as a pyramid. 
14 = 9 + 4 + 1



Figure 2. One serving of Cheez-Its BIG arranged like a pyramid.
14 = 8 + 3 + 2 + 1



Figure 3. One serving of Cheez-Its BIG arranged unlike a pyramid.
14 = (2 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 2) + 2


Unfortunately, Cheez-Its BIG, the Monterey Jack variety (which I purchased by mistake) is not the perfect food, and I can only recommend it for arranging, not for snacking.



Figure 4. The author (center) ascending a Pyramid not made of Cheez-Its BIG.


¹ “Twice the Size!*”, the front of the box declares.²

² The asterisk leads to a footnote, in smaller type: “*Than Original Cheez-It® Crackers volume.” My rough measurements confirm this. One Cheez-It BIG is about 35% larger than a Cheez-It in each of its larger dimensions, and about 10% thicker.