Can you solve this Christmas math problem that has the internet fooled?

Just like TV ads and big-box stores, we here at Simplemost like to start celebrating Christmas early because Christmas means presents and eggnog and that NSYNC Christmas CD we know you play every year.

So in that spirit, here is an early Christmas present for you: A yuletide riddle from Mathway:


We know what you’re thinking: Yay, candy canes and wine make me happy! Us, too—but don’t let that distract you from the math problem at hand, which is no gimme, as evidenced by the more than 45,000 shares and 15,000 comments the original Facebook post has racked up. So we’ll give you some time to ponder this equation while we listen to more NSYNC.

OK, got it? Well, let’s see if you are on the naughty or nice list this year. Watch the video below for the answer:

As you can see from the responses on the original post, a lot of people wound up with 25. The key in this riddle, as in life, is the wine. Specifically, pretend this is your family Christmas party and you are keeping an eye on Drunk Uncle Bob and count the wine glasses on each line.

Notice that on the third line, there are two wine glasses, on the fourth line there is only one. Aside from this making you sad, fewer wine glasses changes the equation if you are thinking of each wine glass as a separate unit.

So each snowflake is 10, because 10 + 10 + 10 = 30.

Then, each candy cane is worth 5, because 10 + 5 + 5 = 20.

And then, each wine glass is worth 1, because 5 + (1+1) + (1+1) = 9.

So the final equation is 5 + 1 x 10= ?

If you remember to “Please Excuse Your Dear Aunt Sally” (in case you’ve forgotten, that’s the order of operations acronym: parentheses and other grouping symbols, exponents, multiplication and division, addition and subtraction), you get this simple math problem:

5 + 10 = 15.

There you have it. Now pass this riddle on to your family and friends to see if they can solve it!

Holiday & Seasonal, Puzzles & Brain Teasers

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About the Author
Mitchell Byars
Mitchell Byars was born and raised in Hawaii and currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he is a reporter. On his free time, he likes to golf, swim and enjoy a nice beer.

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