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?

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    $\begingroup$ I was this close to closing this as a dup . . . $\endgroup$ – Rubio Oct 16 '17 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ Why is the actual question in spoiler tags? $\endgroup$ – Brian J Oct 16 '17 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ @BrianJ: I assume its because this question is something of a joke and it is, in a way, hiding the punchline. $\endgroup$ – Chris Oct 16 '17 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ I actually love this. I'm one for very small petty humor. $\endgroup$ – Quintec Oct 16 '17 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – Ben Aveling Oct 17 '17 at 13:04

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 Oct 16 '17 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).

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    $\begingroup$ Ooh, this one's clever. I've never heard of this (probably because I don't smoke) but it's a fascinating answer $\endgroup$ – Nic Hartley Oct 16 '17 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. $\endgroup$ – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Oct 17 '17 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. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Zeitlin Oct 17 '17 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 Oct 17 '17 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ @boboquack Second badge. First badge will be for posting an answer. ;) $\endgroup$ – jpmc26 Oct 18 '17 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ @jpmc26 Ahaha but I made the comment before the answer was up-voted ;) $\endgroup$ – boboquack Oct 18 '17 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. $\endgroup$ – Acccumulation Oct 21 '17 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 Oct 23 '17 at 0:48

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