Fractional Eggs

October 19, 2015 at 6:51 am 3 comments

I search for new recipes at allrecipes.com all the time. This morning, a search yielded a delicious recipe for pumpkin pancakes, which sounded like the perfect breakfast for a crisp fall morning.

One of the things I love about allrecipes is the ability to customize the number of servings. The default number of servings for the pumpkin pancake recipe was six, but I could adjust it to four, a more appropriate number for our two-adult, two-child family:

Serving Adjust

So I did. And as you’d expect, each item in the ingredient list was reduced to ⅔ its previous amount. Sort of. Two cups of flour was reduced to 1⅓ cups. One cup of pumpkin puree was reduced to ⅔ cup. But 2 teaspoons of baking powder was reduced to 1¼ teaspoons, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon was reduced to ¾ teaspoon.

The reduction in the number of servings was 33⅓%, yet the range of reductions in the ingredients varied from 25% for salt (from 1 teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon) to 50% for ground ginger (from ½ teaspoon to ¼ teaspoon).

But I get it. It’s not typical for most kitchens to contain a spoon that measures ⅙ teaspoon. So there’s clearly some part of the algorithm that completes the conversion but then finds a “nice” fraction that’s in the right neighborhood. Fair enough.

But what the hell’s going on here?

Five-Eighths EggIs it really better to display ⅝ egg instead of ⅔ egg? Couldn’t the algorithm recognize that fractional eggs just aren’t all that common and leave it as a whole number?

My guess is that the programmer is one of the folks to which this statement alludes:

5 out of 4 people aren’t very good with fractions.

That joke represents one-fifth of my favorite fraction jokes. Here are the other four:

Why won’t fractions marry decimals?
They don’t want to convert.

I’m right 4/5 of the time. Who cares about the other 10%?

There’s a fine line between a numerator and a denominator.

Sex is like fractions. It’s improper for the larger one to be on top.

If you find a store that sells ⅝ egg, please let us know about it in the comments.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

One, Tooth, Ree, … The Life and Times (and Fractions) of Eliza Acton

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. xander  |  October 19, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I’ve not encountered a store that sells fractional eggs, but the eggs that we get from the farmer’s market tend to range in size from 1.5 oz to 3 oz (a typical large egg is about 2 oz). Because of this variability, I’ve come to mentally translate “1 egg” to “2 oz of egg.” Maybe you could just get smaller eggs?

    Also, does this count as a fraction joke: \frac{1}{n} \sin x =  6 (because you can cancel the n‘s).

    Reply
  • 2. Shirley A Burns  |  October 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    LOL I know this was tongue in cheek of course but it may be more of a chemistry question than ‘standard utensils’ question… the amount of batter that 2 tsp of baking powder can reliably act as a leavening agent for is not necessarily 1/2 the amount that 4 tsp of baking powder can leaven. Acidity of other ingredients can also play a factor. Alcohol and spices also are not usually a linear scale when doubling/halving a recipe.

    Reply
  • 3. venneblock  |  October 29, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Yes, it counts as a fraction joke, though I’ve coined the term malefraction to describe such atrocities.

    And just FYI, Xander, you can use LaTeX in the comments but you need to put the word “latex” after the first dollar sign. So to make \frac{1}{2}, you need to type “$latex \frac{1}{2}$.” I’ve edited your reply above so the math shows correctly.

    Good to hear from you again!

    Reply

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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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