Why is this kids puzzle driving the internet bananas? (and why YOU can’t solve it)

This simple brain teaser has taken Facebook by storm. Now it’s infiltrated LinkedIn as well. But why? It’s so easy to solve. Or is it?


At first glance it’s a pretty obvious algebraic equation. Now bear with me whilst we go through the logic. The first line demonstrates that three apples added together is 30. So surely 1 apple is equal to 10. Any arguments? Nope? OK so lets move on.

Then we see that 1 apple (10) added to 2 bunches of bananas equals 18. Basic maths indicates that each bunch of bananas is equal to 4. 10+4+4=18


So far, so good?

Then the next line says that a bunch of bananas (as we have established, a value of 4) minus 2 half coconuts equals 2 therefore suggesting that the coconuts are the equivalent to 2.

Right then, so on the last line, it requests the answer to the sum of one half a coconut (1) plus one apple (10) and a bunch of bananas (4). 1+10+4=15. Problem solved, vague sense of smugness, share to see if your friends are as ‘smart’ as you are and move on right? Wrong.

It seems that we are not maybe as observant as we’d like to think and that we have been duped by our own complacency. If you take a closer look at the bananas, you will see that the bunches are not equal. The bunches in the second and third lines have 4 bananas but in the last line there are only 3 bananas. So if that’s the case, then the value of each banana should be 1 and hence the value of the last bunch of bananas should be 3 which means that the final answer should actually be 14.


So there we have it, problem solved. Not so fast Sherlock. Now you need to inspect those nuts more closely… If you peek more intently you might notice that the 2 halves of coconut are not identical. The left half is different to the right half. And the half that is featured in the final equation is only the left half. The question is then, are the values of each half coconut different because they are not identical?

2.2 million people have left their answers and shared the picture which has become a viral sensation with increasingly wild (and often stupid) solutions being proffered. So what do the experts say? Well Dr Kevin Bowman, Mathematics expert at the University of Central Lancashire is quoted as saying:

“You can interpret it in many ways; one way is no more correct than another. There’s no ambiguity in the first equation; 3 apples is 30, so one apple is worth 10. But because all the bananas aren’t the same, you could say that they all represent different amounts. You might even say that the two coconut pieces in the third equation are different sizes, and therefore add up to three quarters or even seven eighths when put together. In that sense, there are an infinite amount of possible answers”

So I’ve had a really good think about it and figured something out. I don’t know the answer and frankly I don’t care. My solution? Don’t waste your time on stupid s*** like this. Takes all the fun out of a simple fruit salad.

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Steve Blakeman is Managing Director - Global Accounts for OMD based in London / Paris. He was named by LinkedIn as a Top 10 Writer for Marketing & Social for 2015 (Top Voices) and also 'Agency Publisher of the Year' for EMEA. Please follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter