It may seem hard to believe, but not that long ago, using brand names in a crossword puzzle was frowned up. For example, Eugene T. Maleska, editor of the New York Times crossword from 1977 to 1993, allowed them only to be used sparingly and reluctantly in puzzles he published.
These days, of course, brand names are recognized as an integral part of crosswords -- we see UBER and SONY and EBAY all the time in real life, so of course it's fun to stumble upon them in a crossword as well.
Naturally, crossword writers have embraced this trend, since it gives us many otherwise-uncluable short words to liven up our grids. OREO is the all-time king, with 322 (!) appearances in the Times since 1993, and IKEA, ATARI, and AVIA (the sneaker brand) have helped us out of many tricky corners as well. Last month, crossword writers shed a tear or two when the much-hyped streaming platform QUIBI shut down after a mere six months, since we were looking forward to a fresh Q-word.
We can still use QUIBI, but it won't carry the same cachet that using a thriving company like IKEA or UBER would. Many solvers see fading or faded brand names like ATRA razors and ESSO gas stations more often in puzzles these days than in real life.
Brand names often give us fun letter combinations to use in our grids, too, since developers seek to brand their new products with eye-catching names. We had SKYY vodka in Monday's puzzle last week, for instance, with its unusual double-Y.
Got a brand name you wanna see in a puzzle? Tweet it to #beastxword and it just might happen.
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