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Dear Mitch,

I've heard that over the last few years this website has had some of the internet's best middle school and high school math problems with a Thanksgiving theme, but I've been having trouble finding them in your archive.  Could you direct me to some of them?

Thank you and happy holiday.

- Mrs. Derace 


Dear Mrs. Derace,

By all means!

However, rather than directing you all over the place in our bulging archive, I've gathered a few of them for you.  So, please consider the following assorted mix of classic/favorite middle school and high school problems, some of which are multiple choice, and some of which are not:


1. For Thanksgiving dessert, a bakery made special pies.

They come in two sizes:  Small and large.  Both sizes are circular in shape, and both sizes are the same thickness, density, and fluffiness.

The small pie has a diameter of 10", and the large pie has a diameter of 20".

If the 10" pie is priced at $3.00, how much should the 20" pie sell for?  (Assume the bakery is managed by someone who uses a logical, mathematical system for pricing the items in his shop).

Here are your choices:

(A) $6.00

(B) $8.00

(C) 10.00

(D) $12.00

(E) $15.00

HINT:  One of the features that often lands a problem into the category of 'one of my two or three hundred favorites,' such as this one has, is that it might require a little more thinking than one may initially assume. 


2. For Thanksgiving, a neighborhood grocery in Clayton, Missouri was giving customers one free pound of stuffing with every 5 pounds the customer buys.  Mrs. McFergass Donahaus Rebitz McIntire III entered the store.  She was well-known in the area for one thing:  She enjoyed her stuffing.  Oh, she'd invite you to her home for dinner if you were in need of a place to go, but don't touch her stuffing -- at least not if you'd like to ever get another invite...

So, that day when Mrs. McFergass Donahaus Rebitz McIntire III entered the store, she bought only stuffing and left the store with 30 pounds of the stuff (stuffing).  If she spent $75.00, how many dollars does each pound of stuffing sell for?

(A) 2

(B) 3

(C) 6

(D) 9

(E) 20

(HINT: Think of this a ratio question...)


3. In the 8th grade social studies Community Service class, the students were required to either cook a turkey or make a soup; the food would then be distributed to local families who otherwise would have very little for the holiday.  If a student wished to, he or she could make both a turkey and a soup, but if a student didn't make either then he/she would not be released from the darkened classroom, where he would remain all alone until the holiday weekend was over.

23 students each made a soup, 27 students each made a turkey.  If there were 41 students in all, how many students made a soup but not a turkey? 


4. If 10 pounds of stuffing cost d dollars, how many pounds of stuffing can be purchased for 3 dollars?

(A) 30d

(B) (3d)/10

(C) 30/d

(D) d/30

(E) (10d)/3


5. If p pounds of sweet potato pie costs s cents, 10 pounds of that pie will cost

(A) (ps)/10 cents

(B) 10ps cents

(C) (10s)/p cents

(D) (10p)/s cents

(E) (s + p + 10) cents 


6. One week before Thanksgiving last year a gourmet food store reduced the price of their "family-sized" turkey dinner by half the regular price, and then, 3 days later, when the chef became concerned that he had prepared more than they were likely to sell, had the owner reduce the sale price by 10%.  The final price is what percent of the original price?

(A) 5%

(B) 10%

(C) 25%

(D) 40%

(E) 45%


7. On the night before Thanksgiving, Stanley S., who, although 22-years-old, still lived with his parents, sneaked into the kitchen and ate one-fourth of the pumpkin pie his mother had spent all day preparing.  The following morning, he woke up early (having cleverly set his alarm clock), tip-toed downstairs, slipped back into the kitchen, and helped himself to one-half of what was left of the pie.  What fraction of the entire pie did Stanley eat before the holiday dinner?

(A) 1/2

(B) 7/8

(C) 3/8

(D) 5/8

(E) 3/4

I hope you and your classes enjoy them as much as I have with students and their parents over the years; a few of these I've used when giving lectures to the parent-body to demonstrate the new and varied ways we try to get students to think, and they've gone over well!

Explanatory answers will appear here at least a day or two before most schools break for the Thanksgiving holiday.  If you'd like them earlier, contact us.

Mathematically yours,