Riddle #924


This teaser is based on a weird but true story from a few years ago. A complaint was received by the president of a major car company: "This is the fourth time I have written you, and I don't blame you for not answering me because I must sound crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of having ice cream for dessert after dinner each night. Every night after we've eaten, the family votes on which flavor of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. I recently purchased a new Pantsmobile from your company and since then my trips to the store have created a problem. You see, every time I buy vanilla ice cream my car won't start. If I get any other kind of ice cream the car starts just fine. I want you to know I'm serious about this question, no matter how silly it sounds: 'What is there about a Pantsmobile that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?'" The Pantsmobile company President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but he sent an engineer to check it out anyway. He had arranged to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the grocery store. The man bought vanilla ice cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car it wouldn't start for several minutes. The engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, the man got chocolate. The car started right away. The second night, he got strawberry and again the car started right up. The third night he bought vanilla and the car failed to start. There was a logical reason why the man's car wouldn't start when he bought vanilla ice cream. What was it? The man lived in an extremely hot city, and this took place during the summer. Also, the layout of the grocery store was such that it took the man less time to buy vanilla ice cream.
Vanilla ice cream was the most popular flavor and was on display in a little case near the express check out, while the other flavors were in the back of the store and took more time to select and check out. This mattered because the man's car was experiencing vapor lock, which is excess heat boiling the fuel in the fuel line and the resulting air bubbles blocking the flow of fuel until the car has enough time to cool.. When the car was running there was enough pressure to move the bubbles along, but not when the car was trying to start.
71.88 %
55 votes

Similar riddles

See also best riddles or new riddles.


You are standing in a house in the middle of the countryside. There is a small hole in one of the interior walls of the house, through which 100 identical wires are protruding. From this hole, the wires run underground all the way to a small shed exactly 1 mile away from the house, and are protruding from one of the shed's walls so that they are accessible from inside the shed. The ends of the wires coming out of the house wall each have a small tag on them, labeled with each number from 1 to 100 (so one of the wires is labeled "1", one is labeled "2", and so on, all the way through "100"). Your task is to label the ends of the wires protruding from the shed wall with the same number as the other end of the wire from the house (so, for example, the wire with its end labeled "47" in the house should have its other end in the shed labeled "47" as well). To help you label the ends of the wires in the shed, there are an unlimited supply of batteries in the house, and a single lightbulb in the shed. The way it works is that in the house, you can take any two wires and attach them to a single battery. If you then go to the shed and touch those two wires to the lightbulb, it will light up. The lightbulb will only light up if you touch it to two wires that are attached to the same battery. You can use as many of the batteries as you want, but you cannot attach any given wire to more than one battery at a time. Also, you cannot attach more than two wires to a given battery at one time. (Basically, each battery you use will have exactly two wires attached to it). Note that you don't have to attach all of the wires to batteries if you don't want to. Your goal, starting in the house, is to travel as little distance as possible in order to label all of the wires in the shed. You tell a few friends about the task at hand. "That will require you to travel 15 miles!" of of them exclaims. "Pish posh," yells another. "You'll only have to travel 5 miles!" "That's nonsense," a third replies. "You can do it in 3 miles!" Which of your friends is correct? And what strategy would you use to travel that number of miles to label all of the wires in the shed?
Believe it or not, you can do it travelling only 3 miles! The answer is rather elegant. Starting from the house, don't attach wires 1 and 2 to any batteries, but for the remaining wires, attach them in consecutive pairs to batteries (so attach wires 3 and 4 to the same battery, attach wires 5 and 6 to the same battery, and so on all the way through wires 99 and 100). Now travel 1 mile to the shed, and using the lightbulb, find all pairs of wires that light it up. Put a rubberband around each pair or wires that light up the lightbulb. The two wires that don't light up any lightbulbs are wires 1 and 2 (though you don't know yet which one of them is wire 1 and which is wire 2). Put a rubberband around this pair of wires as well, but mark it so you remember that they are wires 1 and 2. Now go 1 mile back to the house, and attach odd-numbered wires to batteries in the following pairs: (1 and 3), (5 and 7), (9 and 11), and so on, all the way through (97 and 99). Similarly, attach even-numbered wires to batteries in the following pairs: (4 and 6), (8 and 10), (12 and 14), and so on, all the way through (96 and 98). Note that in this round, we didn't attach wire 2 or wire 100 to any batteries. Finally, travel 1 mile back to the shed. You're now in a position to label all of the wires here. First, remember we know the pair of wires that are, collectively, wires 1 and 2. So test wires 1 and 2 with all the other wires to see what pair lights up the lightbulb. The wire from wires 1 and 2 that doesn't light up the bulb is wire 2 (which, remember, we didn't connect to a battery), and the other is wire 1, so we can label these as such. Furthermore, the wire that, with wire 1, lights up a lightbulb, is wire 3 (remember how we connected the wires this round). Now, the other wire in the rubber band with wire 3 is wire 4 (we know this from the first round), and the wire that, with wire 4, lights up the lightbulb, is wire 6 (again, because of how we connected the wires to batteries this round). We can continue labeling batteries this way (next we'll label wire 7, which is rubber-banded to wire 6, and then we'll label wire 9, which lights up the lightbulb with wire 7, and so on). At the end, we'll label wire 97, and then wire 99 (which lights up the lightbulb with wire 97), and finally wire 100 (which isn't connected to a battery this round, but is rubber-banded to wire 99). And we're done, having travelled only 3 miles!
76.59 %
67 votes

100 men are in a room, each wearing either a white or black hat. Nobody knows the color of his own hat, although everyone can see everyone else's hat. The men are not allowed to communicate with each other at all (and thus nobody will ever be able to figure out the color of his own hat). The men need to line up against the wall such that all the men with black hats are next to each other, and all the men with white hats are next to each other. How can they do this without communicating? You can assume they came up with a shared strategy before coming into the room.
The men go to stand agains the wall one at a time. If a man goes to stand against the wall and all of the men already against the wall have the same color hat, then he just goes and stands at either end of the line. However, if a man goes to stand against the wall and there are men with both black and white hats already against the wall, he goes and stands between the two men with different colored hats. This will maintain the state that the line contains men with one colored hats on one side, and men with the other colored hats on the other side, and when the last man goes and stands against the wall, we'll still have the desired outcome.
76.19 %
91 votes

A fancy restaurant in New York was offering a promotional deal. A married couple could eat at the restaurant for half-price on their anniversary. To prevent scams, the couple would need proof of their wedding date. One Thursday evening, a couple claimed it was their anniversary, but didn't bring any proof. The restaurant manager was called to speak with the couple. When the manager asked to hear about the wedding day, the wife replied with the following: "Oh, it was a wonderful Sunday afternoon, birds were chirping, and flowers were in full bloom." After nearly 10 minutes of ranting, she comes to tell him that today was their 28th wedding anniversary. "How lovely", the manager said, "However, you do not qualify for the discount. Today is not your anniversary, you are a liar". How did the manager know that it wasn't their anniversary?
The calendar repeats itself every 28 years. So, if they were married on a Sunday 28 years ago, the day they were at the restaurant would also have to be a Sunday. Since it was a Thursday, the manager knew they were lying, and abruptly kicked them out of his restaurant.
76.19 %
81 votes

Emily was sitting at her study table, home alone, on a cold and stormy night. Her parents had taken a flight earlier in the morning to Australia as her grandmother had passed away. She had wanted to follow her parents but she had an important English examination the next day which she could not miss. The storm was getting heavier by the minute and the wind was howling outside. All this noise made it very hard for her to concentrate. She was on the verge of dozing off when she was shaken alert by a sudden "THUD!" She dismissed it as a window which had been slammed shut by the wind. She tried to concentrate on her books when she heard faint footsteps. Emily got out of her room and looked around when suddenly, without warning, she was grabbed by the neck. She tried to scream but it came out as a mere whimper as the intruder was pressing hard against her throat with his arm. She tried to free herself from his grip but to no avail. "Give me all your money!" growled the man who had grabbed her from behind. "Th-there is none h-here! Please ll-let me go!" cried Emily. "Don't LIE TO ME!" screamed the increasingly agitated man. She felt the man strengthen his grip around her neck. She said nothing and a few seconds passed by in silence. Suddenly the phone rang which alerted both of them. "People will get suspicious if I don't answer the phone," said Emily, with a controlled voice. The intruder let her go. "Alright, but NO funny business, or ELSE!" said the nervous intruder. Emily walked toward the phone. She took a deep breath and calmed herself. She picked up the phone. "Hey Em! How's the revision going?" said the caller. "Hey Anna. Thanks for the call. Hey you know those Science notes I lent you last week? Well I really need them back. It would be a great help to me. It's an emergency, so if you could give me them tomorrow it would be great. Please hurry in finding the notes. I need to get back to my books now. Bye," Emily said. She hung up the phone. "It was wise of you not to say anything," said the intruder, although he was more than a bit confused by her conversation. "Now TELL ME WHERE THE MONEY IS KEPT!" screamed the thief. "It...it's...in my dad's room. The first room on the right. Third drawer," said Emily. "SHOW me!" said the man, and removed his grip around her neck. She took a big gulp of air and nearly fell. She swallowed hard and said a silent prayer. She walked slowly, in silence, toward her father's room. All of a sudden, they heard police sirens. The intruder froze in his footsteps. He ran to the nearest window and jumped out of it. Emily ran outside in time to see the intruder being escorted into the car. She saw Anna and she ran toward her and hugged her. "Smart kids," said the policeman. What had happened?
Emily had used the mute button during her conversation with Anna so that all Anna heard was: "call...help...emergency...please hurry". Anna, sensing something was wrong, called the police and told them Emily's address. The police were able to come to Emily's house in time to catch the perpetrator.
76.12 %
163 votes

A number of people have broken the sound barrier, either in a super-fast car, or in nice fancy planes. However, hundreds of years ago it was broken on horseback. How?
Many people who ride horses carry whips. They crack the whip while they ride the horse. When a whip is cracked, the tip travels faster than the speed of sound, which makes the loud snap. It actually creates a miniature sonic boom of sorts. The whip breaks the sound barrier, thus, it was broken on horseback.
75.57 %
59 votes

Once upon a time, in the West Lake village, a servant lived with his master. After service of about 30 years, his master became ill and was going to die. One day, the master called his servant and asked him for a wish. It could be any wish but just one. The master gave him one day to think about it. The servant became very happy and went to his mother for discussion about the wish. His mother was blind and she asked her son for making a wish for her eye-sight to come back. Then the servant went to his wife. She became very excited and asked for a son as they were childless for many years. After that, the servant went to his father who wanted to be rich and so he asked his son to wish for a lot of money. The next day he went to his master and made one wish through which all the three (mother, father, wife) got what they wanted. You have to tell what the servant asked the master.
The servant said, "My mother wants to see her grandson swinging on a swing of gold."
75.43 %
88 votes

One day, Emperor Akbar posed a question to Birbal. He asked him what Birbal would choose if he offered either justice or a gold coin. "The gold coin," said Birbal without hesitation. On hearing this, Akbar was taken aback. "You would prefer a gold coin to justice?" he asked, not believing his own ears. "Yes," said Birbal. The other courtiers were amazed by Birbal's display of idiocy. They were full of glee that Birbal had finally managed himself to do what these courtiers had not been able to do for a long time - discredit Birbal in the emperor's eyes! "I would have been disappointed if this was the choice made even by my lowliest of servants," continued the emperor. "But coming from you it's not only disappointing, but shocking and sad. I did not know you were so debased!" How did Birbal justify his answer to the enraged and hurt Emperor?
"One asks for what one does not have, Your Majesty." said Birbal, smiling gently and in quiet tones. "Under Your Majesty´s rule, justice is available to everybody. But I am a spendthrift and always short of money and therefore I said I would choose the gold coin." The answer immensely pleased the emperor and respect for Birbal was once again restored in the emperor's eyes.
75.38 %
83 votes

Once upon a time there was a dad and 3 kids. When the kids were adults, the dad was old and Death came to take the dad. The first son, who became a lawyer, begged Death to let the dad live a few more years. Death agreed. When Death came back, the second son, who became a doctor begged Death to let his father live a few more days. Death agreed. When Death came back the third son, who became a priest begged Death to let the dad live till that candle wick burned out and he pointed to a candle. Death agreed. The third son knew Death wouldn't come back, and he didn't. Why not?
The third son went over and blew out the candle after Death left because the son said "till the candle wick burns out", not "till the candle burns out".
75.35 %
176 votes

A wise man lived on a hill above a small town. The townspeople often approached him to solve their difficult problems and riddles. One day, two lads decided to fool him. They took a dove and set off up the hill. Standing before him, one of the lads said "Tell me, wise man, is the dove I hold behind my back dead or alive?" The man smiled and said "I cannot answer your question correctly". Even though the wise man knew the condition of the dove, why wouldn't he state whether it was dead or alive?
The man told the two lads, "If I say the dove is alive, you will the bird and show me that it is dead. If I say that it is dead, you will release the dove and it will fly away. So you see I cannot answer your question. Search: Schrödinger's cat
75.29 %
97 votes

A poor miller living with his daughter comes onto hard times and is not able to pay his rent. His evil landlord threatens to evict them unless the daughter marries him. The daughter, not wanting to marry the landlord but fearing that her father won't be able to take being evicted, suggests the following proposition to the landlord. He will put two stones, one white and one black, into a bag in front of the rest of the townspeople. She will pick one stone out of the bag. If she picks the white stone, the landlord will forgive their debt and let them stay, but if she picks the black stone, she will marry the landlord, and her father will be evicted anyway. The landlord agrees to the proposal. Everybody meets in the center of the town. The landlord picks up two stones to put in the bag, but the daughter notices that he secretly picked two black stones. She is about to reveal his deception but realizes that this would embarrass him in front of the townspeople, and he would evict them. She quickly comes up with another plan. What can she do that will allow the landlord save face, while also ensuring that she and her father can stay and that she won't have to marry the landlord?
The daughter picks a stone out, keeps it in her closed hand, and proclaims "this is my stone." She then throws it to the ground, and says "look at the other stone in the bag, and if it's black, that means I picked the white stone." The landlord will reveal the other stone, which is obviously black, and the daughter will have succeeded. The landlord was never revealed as a cheater and thus was able to save face.
75.05 %
133 votes