It was a typical Sunday morning: coffee in the sun room, me and the paper, the wife and her phone. But this day as I read, I became increasingly aware of the wife’s good mood. She was humming, swaying, and tapping away on her phone like I never saw before. I’m not a nosy man but when she put her phone down and went to the kitchen to refill our cups, curiosity got the best of me. I reached over and grabbed her phone and to my utter astonishment this is what I saw:

the wife's notes

A cold chill possessed my spine. I heard her happy humming returning so I swiftly snapped this screenshot, texted it to my own phone, and replaced her phone just in time.

And now my friends I am asking for your help. What do these notes mean? Has my wife gone completely fruity? What has been making her so happy today?

Disclaimer: original puzzle not based on a true story


The suspense was killing me. This afternoon I asked her.

“Hey wife,” I said.

“Hey husband,” she said.

“So the other day I glanced at your phone and it was like a bunch of fruits and stuff.”

“Lol yup. Were you able to sound them out?”

I grunted.

She laughed, “It would be very difficult, possible, but very difficult without the key.”

“The key?”

She pulled out her phone, tapped it a couple times, and shoved it into my hand.

I looked at it and saw another note with a bunch of fruit emojis.

After looking at it for a bit I asked, “So I kinda enlisted a crew of the world’s best code crackers to help me figure this out. Is it chill if I send them all a screenshot of this?”

“Of course, husband. Hopefully it makes everyone happy!”

the wife's key

Hopefully this will help us figure out what these fruit notes mean. But it raises a new question. Why does the wife use these emoji to represent whatever they represent?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I didn't want to leave a downvote with no comment. So, I simply didn't like the story this was delivered with since it demonstrates toxic behavior. If the story itself doesn't impact the outcome of the puzzle, then I'm more than willing to remove my downvote if the story is wordsmithed into something more positive (e.g. maybe your wife sent this message to you intentionally for some reason, assuming it has a positive solution). $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2021 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ I agree it could do without the toxic overtones. If my idea is right, that could be replaced by “I went to the kitchen counter, and she showed me with a grin what she had in her notes” - my idea is rot13 Fur vf hfvat gur vpbaf gb jevgr gur zhfvpny abgrf bs gur fbat gung fur vf yvfgravat gb (fb cynl ba jbeqf jvgu “abgrf”), fb fur’f abg qbvat nalguvat fvavfgre abe gbkvp. Gur rvtug pbyhzaf pbhyq qrabgr gur cvgpu (fb qbu, er, zr, ….), naq gur ebjf pbhyq qrabgr yratgu bs gur abgr (fubeg ng gur gbc). Bhe gnfx vf gb vqragvsl gur fbat - ohg V unir ab vqrn ! $\endgroup$
    – racraman
    Oct 27, 2021 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ @racraman rot13 tbbq guvaxvat, fur vf ernyyl vagb zhfvp naq fur vf ernyyl fzneg gbb, nyjnlf ernqvat Rhpyvq be Cgbyrzl be fbzrguvat $\endgroup$
    – caPNCApn
    Oct 27, 2021 at 6:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Tacoタコス This edit actually removes a couple of clues that were present in the images. Also emojis don't always render correctly on all devices, so I'm not convinced this is the best idea to replace the images with emojis. $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Oct 27, 2021 at 15:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tacoタコス Done! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Oct 27, 2021 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


Don't worry, there's nothing sinister going on here. Your wife is just happy because...

...she's humming part of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, more commonly known as Ode to Joy.

Each of the lines of fruit emojis in the main graphic represents:

a single musical note - which makes perfect sense why she might be using the Notes app on her phone to record this!

If we use the 'key' provided in the additional information, we can make the following correspondences:

Taking the first line to represent the note 'C', we proceed downwards through D, E, F, G, A, B and finally a higher C:

The key explained

Applying this to the initial screenshot gives us:

Diagram explained

These are the notes that end the first line of the 'Ode to Joy' section of the symphony.

Ode to Joy sheet music

(In fact, if you squint you can just make out the previous 3 notes typed into the memo, faintly in the background at the top - these also all match the piece in question.)

This makes sense of the many references to your wife's 'good mood' and 'sounding out' the emojis (although not necessarily precisely why these combinations of fruit emojis are used to represent these things in this way...).

Post Script: @user39583 makes an interesting arithmetical observation in comments below to explain the use of the different combinations of emojis:

If we take [cherries]=12, [orange]=19 and [apple]=28, and add up the values of all fruit emojis in a given row, whilst interpreting the slash as a minus sign, the rows of the key add up to 36 (C), 38 (D), 40 (E), 41 (F), 43 (G), 45 (A), 47 (B) and 48 (the higher C). Each of these notes corresponds to the note's number of semitones up from the 'Contra C', with the lower of the 2 C's representing 'Middle C'.

  • $\begingroup$ rot13(Gur sehvgf frrz gb ercerfrag frzvgbarf hc sebz gur pbagen P nqqvgviryl be, rdhvinyragyl, eryngvir serdhrapvrf zhygvcyvpngviryl. Fb pureel=gjryir, benatr=avargrra, nccyr=gjraglrvtug.) $\endgroup$
    – user39583
    Oct 27, 2021 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ @user39583 Ah, so if the 'slash' actually represents a minus sign, this can all be defined algebraically. Well spotted... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Oct 27, 2021 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ Correct, nice job. An interesting note about the arithmetic rot13: V vagraqrq gur flzobyf gb ercerfrag gur cevzr snpgbevmngvba (erq=gjb, benatr=guerr, terra=svir cre fgnaqneq ryrpgevpny pbybe pbqr) bs gur engvbf va Cgbyrzl'f Whfg Ghavat flfgrz jvgu whkgncbfvgvba naq gur fynfu ercerfragvat zhygvcyvpngvba naq qvivfvba nf hfhny. Ohg lbhe zngu jbexf gbb. Rvgure jnl erq vf na bpgnir, benatr vf na bpgnir cyhf n cresrpg svsgu, naq terra vf gjb bpgnirf cyhf n znwbe guveq. $\endgroup$
    – caPNCApn
    Oct 27, 2021 at 17:57

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