Sunday, July 19, 2015

McMinion Math

Update:  Below is the contents of the email I received back from McDonald's.  At this point I'm assuming the puzzle is a misprint.  Even so, if you happen to see 96 triangles, I'd love to know the solution.
Thank you for contacting McDonald's and sharing your comments with us. We greatly appreciate this opportunity to address your concerns.

I'm sorry you were disappointed recently with the puzzle on our Minion themed Happy Meal box . At every McDonald's we strive to deliver 100-percent Total Customer Satisfaction. However, it appears as though we've failed to deliver these standards to you. I apologize that I do not have a solution to the puzzle to share with you.

Because you are a valued customer, I have shared your comments with our Quality Assurance team. They work closely with our suppliers to ensure that all of our products meet our quality standards. Your complete satisfaction is one of our top priorities.

Again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We hope to have the opportunity of serving you again

Well, I have to admit to being  Mc-stumped.  I ordered the tweens, McDonald's Happy Meals for lunch - sort of as a joke, since they outgrew Happy Meals some time ago.  (Okay, maybe it was because I wanted to hear what the Minion toys actually had to say).

Original Post:
Anyway, the puzzle at the top of this page was printed on the side of the box.  The kids took a couple of seconds counting triangles, and then turned back to their burgers and fries, content to trust the Minion (Phil? or Tom?) that the "pyramid" was made up of 96 triangles.

I wanted proof.  So, I copied the triangle, made up of 16 small triangles, 96 times to make a worksheet... color in, so it would be easy to see that we weren't getting any duplicate triangles in our count.  I figured I'd work on it alone, find the solution, and then challenge the tweens to take an real stab at it.  The only problem was that I didn't find 96 triangles, I only found 27.

Of course, the Minion said there were 96 triangles in the "pyramid" not the "big triangle".  So, I tried again working with the shape as a four sided pyramid (or tetrahedron)...

...which would flatten out as in the picture below.  However, 27 triangles on each side, times 4 sides, equals 108 - not 96.

And, I briefly considered a five sided, square bottomed, pyramid, but that would take figuring the area of the square bottom divided by the area of the smallest triangles, and not only did that come out uneven, and greater than 96 (something like 101 triangles), it seemed a little convoluted for the target age of children normally ordering Happy Meals.

My children are content to believe it is probably supposed to be more of a "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop" sort of question - one meant to be enjoyed, and fudged, rather than solved.  Just to be sure, I emailed McDonald's and ask for a solution.

While I'm waiting, what do you think?  Is the pyramid made of 96 triangles, or not?


Rachel Wineman said...

Oh goodness, I worked on this forever today with my husband and friend. We, too, only got 27. I have no idea how you could possibly get 96 from this (we also tried to approach it 3D but similarly found it still wouldn't add up to 96). If McDonald's emails you back with the answer, I would love to hear it!

Ticia said...

Yeah, I'm no seeing 96 either, I got the same 27.

Bethany said...

Ha! I would have completely ignored the thing! I'll have to pay more attention to the happy meals now!

Angelic Scalliwags said...

Wowser! Leah, good for you for firstly actually attempting to prove there were 96 and secondly when you couldn't, writing the letter to McDonald to ask them. I'm in awe! Me? I would have eaten the food and possibly half-heartedly had a go. I'm very impressed by your fortitude in such matters!!

Natalie PlanetSmartyPants said...

This is too funny! I think they must have miscounted numbers on one face as 24, this is the only explanation that I see. Clearly, McDonald math minds should stick to French fries and hamburgers :)

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Oh dear, McDonald's!

Stephen McCarthy said...

Hello! I have the answer. While there are 27 triangles on each side of the pyramid, there are 96 triangles in the square pyramid base. This is the "mystery" of the pyramid: McDonalds printed the side of the pyramid, when it asked for the amount of triangles of its square base.