NYT Mini for Sunday, December 27, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: FANTA

Fanta is a global brand of fruit-flavored carbonated soft drinks created by The Coca-Cola Company. There are over 100 flavors worldwide. The drink originated in Nazi Germany under trade embargo for Coca-Cola ingredients in 1940.

Fanta originated as a result of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II due to a trade embargo.[1] To circumvent this, Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland (Coca-Cola GmbH) during the Second World War, decided to create a new product for the German market, using only ingredients available in Germany at the time, including whey and apple pomace – the "leftovers of leftovers", as Keith later recalled.[1][2] The name was the result of a brief brainstorming session, which started with Keith's exhorting his team to "use their imagination" (Fantasie in German), to which one of his salesmen, Joe Knipp, immediately retorted "Fanta!"[2] (Wikipedia)

Ho and/or hum. This is a pretty tame offering from....let's see...oh, Joel Fagliano wrote this one too? What a surprise. Will Shortz, End This Monopoly! For the love of Ooxteplernon, please free us from this tyranny of mediocrity. I'm not even kidding; there have to be other constructors out there willing to fill a 5x5 grid every now and then.

I had no idea FANTA had such an interesting origin [1D: Classic orange soda]. Too bad that information came from Wikipedia and not this puzzle. I mean seriously, would it have killed you to spend five or ten seconds googling for something better than the supremely low-hanging fruit that is this clue?

BAD AT is basically the worst thing ever [5A: Lacking a knack for]. I'm totally confused by this entry. Why would you think that this is an acceptable thing to put in your grid? It's basically the crossword equivalent of a canker sore, so where are the stacked 15s or the dense theme material that is being tied together by this blight? Oh, that's right, it's a 5x5 grid with no such constraints. Minis should be 100% free of this kind of drivel. That's how they justify their existence.

ID TAG is not as bad, but still not great [2D: Luggage attachment]. I would in fact be willing to overlook its banality if it at least had an acceptable clue, but instead we've more vertically-challenged seed-bearing structures. For shame!

ANTIC I almost like [6A: Bit of hijinks]. In general I don't approve of singular forms of words that only ever get used as plurals in the real world, but this one is worth STASHing [7A: Secret supply] away and RAISE-ing up[3D: Good worker's reward] in a conversation whenever possible. As in "I say, Reginald, that was indeed a most delightful antic you just executed! Wilst thou pump up the BASS?" [5D: Prominent part of dubstep music] Yes, I hear that exactly sentence several times a week.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, fanta-clause of CrossWorld