Mental Floss

Brain Game: Jed & Zed Need Socks


Today's Brain Game isn't a trick; just logic. Enjoy!

Identical twin brothers Jed and Zed - both completely blind - preferred to dress alike. One day, they entered a clothing store. With a salesperson's help, each of them purchased three pair of socks; one white pair, one brown pair, and one black pair. The socks were identical in style and size, and each pair was bundled separately with the same type of plastic ring. Each man put his receipt in his pocket, placed his three pairs of socks under his arm, and stood out front at the bus stop to catch a ride.

A large truck blew his horn right in front of Zed, startling him. He bumped into Jed, and they dropped the bundles of socks on the sidewalk. The twins managed to reach down and find all six of the bundles intact, but they had no idea what color each bundle was. Still, before the bus arrived - and without any outside assistance - the men had sorted the socks so that each of them had one white pair, one brown pair, and one black pair. They caught the #11 bus and headed home.

Since the twins couldn't see, and the socks felt identical to them, how did Jed and Zed ensure that they'd sorted the socks correctly?

Here is the SOLUTION.


Each twin took three bundles, and gave one sock from each bundle to his brother. No matter which three bundles each twin had originally, the swapping would ensure that Jed and Zed each ended up with one pair of white socks, one pair of brown socks, and one pair of black socks.