No matter how much you love your favorite snack — apple, banana, pound cake — it probably tastes even better dipped in something warm and gooey. That’s what you do when you eat “fondue.” You fill the fondue pot with cheese or chocolate, and put a hot flame under it to melt it. Then you stick bite-sized chunks of food onto long, skinny forks, and dip it into the melted yumminess. It all started long ago in 1699, when the Swiss invented cheese fondue. Since then we’ve added two other kinds: meat fondue, where you cook chunks of steak in hot oil, and an even better one, chocolate fondue. But whether you dip into cheese or chocolate, you have to pay attention: some say that if you drop your apple slice in the pot, you have to kiss the person to your left!
Wee ones: If you dip apple in chocolate, then dip banana, then apple, then banana…what comes next?
Little kids: If you dip 5 strawberries and 3 raspberries into the chocolate, how many berries do you dip in total? Bonus: How many more strawberries than raspberries do you dip?
Big kids: If you dip an apple slice, then a banana slice, then cake, then apple again, banana and cake to repeat, what’s the 20th bite you eat? Bonus: If you put out 24 marshmallows and 35 cubes of Rice Krispie treat for dipping, and each person takes 3 marshmallows and 5 Krispie cubes, which one will run out first?
Wee ones: A piece of apple.
Little kids: 8 berries. Bonus: 2 more strawberries.
Big kids: Banana, since all multiples of 3 (like the 18th bite) will be cake; then you start over. Bonus: The Krispie treats. There are enough cubes for just 7 people, but enough marshmallows for 8.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.