For a small state, New Jersey has a big appetite – and the food to prove it. Deep down we know Jersey makes better pizza than New York City and better cheesesteaks than Philadelphia (yes, these are fightin’ words). The Garden State’s endless farms grow delicious Jersey tomatoes, peaches and corn. Most important, though, is that this crammed state of 9 million people is the ruling Diner Capital of the World. Diners are little restaurants that serve any meal at any time of day: you can have pancakes for dinner or a burger for breakfast. At last count New Jersey had 525 diners, more diners per person than anywhere else. The question is, how many of them serve a milkshake – and where is the closest one?
Wee ones: We drink milkshakes from a glass. Find a cup or glass, hold it under a faucet, and turn on the cold water. Count to 5 and turn off the water. Did you fill the glass? Did the water run over? Dump out the water and try again, counting faster this time!
Little kids: Milkshakes are made of milk and ice cream. If you put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the glass, then a scoop of chocolate, then vanilla, then chocolate…what flavor is the 6th scoop? Bonus: If you keep scooping like that, at 10 scoops how much chocolate have you scooped?
Big kids: Cooks at diners have to cook many kinds of food, and fast. If a cook grills 26 hamburgers and by mistake puts each one between 2 pancakes instead of using rolls, how many pancakes were used? (And do you think that would taste good?) Bonus: If it takes you 24 minutes to drive to the nearest diner to get a milkshake, and you leave at 5:38 pm, can you get there by 6:00 pm?
The sky’s the limit: If a cook can mix a milkshake in 3 minutes to sell for $4, OR can cook a stack of pancakes in 5 minutes to sell for $8, what should the cook make this next hour to make the most money? And can you find a shortcut to solve this?
Wee ones: Different for everyone, depending on how fast the water runs and how big a glass you use!
Little kids: The 6th scoop is chocolate, since the 5th is vanilla and they’re switching back and forth. Bonus: 5 scoops of chocolate.
Big kids: 52 pancakes. Bonus: Not quite! An hour has 60 minutes, so you have only 60 – 38 = 22 minutes to reach the diner by 6.
The sky’s the limit: The cook should make pancakes. The pancakes make exactly twice as much money in less than twice the time. If you do divide out and then multiply each one, in 1 hour the cook can make 20 milkshakes, which will earn $80; or the cook can make 12 sets of pancakes, which will make $96.
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.