A man has 17 cigarettes.

He gives half of the cigarettes to his oldest son.

He gives one third of the cigarettes to his middle son.

He gives one ninth of the cigarettes to his youngest son.


What brand are they?

  • 16
    $\begingroup$ I was this close to closing this as a dup . . . $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ Why is the actual question in spoiler tags? $\endgroup$
    – Brian J
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 14:21
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @BrianJ: I assume its because this question is something of a joke and it is, in a way, hiding the punchline. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 15:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I actually love this. I'm one for very small petty humor. $\endgroup$
    – Quintec
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 21:16
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ The question is (or was) in spoiler tags because: 1. for the reason BrianJ suggests, it is as much joke as puzzle, and therefore: 2. we want to give the reader time to leap to the wrong conclusion before they see what the question is. The title is what it is: 1. partly to twig the reader not to expect the expected; and 2. as a genuine apology in advance for something that is as much a joke as it is a puzzle; and 3. click bait. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 13:04

6 Answers 6


Perhaps they are:

Camel brand cigarettes.


This puzzle is usually posed with camels instead of cigarettes; see here for example.

  • $\begingroup$ You get my +1, that's a nice answer! $\endgroup$
    – D. Mellow
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 12:43

A different possibility:

17 is the brand, not the number of cigarettes. Assuming, of course, that the answer doesn't need to be a real brand.


Sterling, which is kind of infamous for sometimes having only 17 cigarettes in their packs (ref1ref2).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ooh, this one's clever. I've never heard of this (probably because I don't smoke) but it's a fascinating answer $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 19:02

This is an old puzzle, but it’s usually asked about camels, not cigarettes. The brand, therefore, is clearly Camel.

  • $\begingroup$ Oof… 52 seconds behind the leading answer, for a score difference of (currently) +26 to +7. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 6:17
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine - Meh. Had fun answering it; I like the rep, but I don't play because of it. It's all about the mental stimulation for me. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 11:12

Probably not the answer you're looking for but

Chocolate Cigarettes! So he can actually do the fractions properly without destroying the cigarettes.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling! Why don't you take the tour and earn your first badge? $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ @boboquack Second badge. First badge will be for posting an answer. ;) $\endgroup$
    – jpmc26
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ @jpmc26 Ahaha but I made the comment before the answer was up-voted ;) $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 0:42

Also here is the explanation for those who are interested:

1/2+1/3+1/9 = 9/18+6/18+2/18 = 17/18 so the old man would give 9 to his oldest son, 6 to his middle one and 2 to the youngest. 17 in total. 18 is the common denominator between 2, 3 and 9. This way you can divide things that cannot be divided, such as cigarettes or... camels. Apparently it is a famous riddle with camels instead of cigarettes, hence the joke. The trap is that we tend to think in decimals when it comes to dividing non-multiples and so at first it appears to be an impossible problem to solve.

What I especially like here, intended or not, is that the spoiler cartridge looks like a cigarette:


  • $\begingroup$ It is impossible to solve. The "solution" is fallacious. It only works if you reinterpret the bequests as permitting normalization. I don't know what you think decimals have to do with it. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Nothing in the problem prevents you to do just that @Acccumulation It is the puzzling stack exchange not the math one ;) $\endgroup$
    – J Doe
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 0:48

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