Popcorn (MIT Mystery Hunt 2020)

MIT Mystery Hunt 2020
Big Top Carnival
Author(s)Todd Etter and Evan Davis
AnswerClick to revealCRIMSON TIP
No. solves21
No. total guesses87

This popcorn is tasty, though it looks unusual.

Popcorn is an image-heavy puzzle from the Big Top Carnival round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt. While presented as if it were a description of a physical popcorn box, no physical components were distributed for this puzzle.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

Image-Heavy Presentation - The box's cover has a 7x7 grid of images printed onto it. Inside the box are shapes consisting of various arrangements of two distinct images, a long list of enumerations, and some popcorn pieces.

Green Eyes, Take Warning - This puzzle uses color. The popcorn pieces at the bottom are colored, and the colors are not listed in the puzzle; the image containing the colored popcorn is labelled with the colors below.


To do TO DO


Identification (General Knowledge) - The images in the top grid can be identified, using the enumeration list as a guide.

Knowledge Required (Miscellaneous) - The shapes are composed of two different images. Both depict popcorn; they are simply in two different shapes, called "butterfly" and "mushroom". The solver must then realize that each image in the top grid is the name of an actual butterfly (e.g. the comma) or mushroom (e.g. the pinwheel).

Tiling Puzzle - Having mapped the top grid to butterflies and mushrooms, one can now arrange the polyominoes in such a way that each image overlaps a popcorn image of the corresponding type.

Marked Spaces - One of the popcorn images on each piece is outlined in red; take the corresponding mushroom or butterfly.

Indexing - The image at the bottom depicts colored popcorn pieces (conveniently grouped by color and type). For each represented color and type, one of the marked images matches both. (The parrot, for instance, is a bright green mushroom, matching the cluster of six green mushroom popcorn in the bottom right; note that the blue color of the hyacinth macaw used to represent it is irrelevant.) Indexing and ordering the letters by appearance in the grid reveals the answer, which just so happens to be a colorful butterfly.