Fireball Contest — February 26, 2020

Grid: untimed; Meta: maybe 10-15 minutes  


Frank Longo’s Fireball contest, “The In Thing” — Laura’s review

For this month’s Fireball contest, we are asked, What food brand is this puzzle’s missing theme entry?

Fireball Contest - 2.26.20 - Solution

Fireball Contest – 2.26.20 – Solution

When there’s a “missing theme entry” sort of question, that usually means that the extant theme entries follow a certain pattern, and we need to find a thing that also does that same pattern thing. So, here are our themers:

  • [19a: Pen, e.g.]: ENCLOSED AREA
  • [26a: Occasion to put on a false face]: MASKED BALL
  • [32a: Ulterior motive]: HIDDEN AGENDA
  • [49a: Open flame’s opposite]: SECRET LOVER
  • [65a: United hub]: O’HARE AIRPORT
  • [74a: What an elder might pass down]: TRIBAL LORE
  • [85a: Powerful villain]: EVIL OVERLORD

First observation: The first four themers indicate some kind of encryption — ENCLOSED AREA, MASKED BALL, HIDDEN AGENDA, SECRET LOVER. Second observation: Three of those words are encrypted in the other three themers —

O’HARE AIRPORT (enclosed area)
TRIBAL LORE (masked ball)
EVIL OVERLORD (secret lover)

Third observation: Since AGENDA isn’t HIDDEN in one of the other themers, we must be looking for something that hides AGENDA. From the flavortext, we know that we’re looking for a food brand with that letter sequence.

Fourth observation, and solution:


Haagen Dazs


As you may know, Häagen-Dazs is a completely made-up brand name that means absolutely nothing in Danish, Hungarian, Klingon, or any other language. It is delicious ice cream (I feel no disloyalty saying that in Ben & Jerry’s country), particularly the Dulce de Leche, Coffee, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip flavors. And it is likely the most metal ice cream available, what with its “rock dots” or heavy metal umlaut.

I went down a long rabbit hole regarding the “röck döts” after solving this metal meta, and ended up listening to a bunch of Hüsker Dü. If there’s anyone who reads my posts who also has Photoshop skills (heck, if there’s anyone who reads my posts; sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m shouting about crosswords into the void, which is pretty damn metal itself), I’d love a mashup of a Häagen-Dazs label that says Hüsker Dü, with one of their album titles as the flavor (you’d think this had been done, what with GenX folk having time on their hands, but no).

Häagen-Dazs has lots of sugar, so here’s Bob Mould, formerly of Hüsker Dü, with his 90s band Sugar, singing what is probably my favorite song of all time:

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1 Response to Fireball Contest — February 26, 2020

  1. WhiskyBill says:

    Really hard fill (at least for me) and a gettable meta in that 5-15 minute sweet spot (at least for me). What’s not to love?

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