Wedding follow-up: Why is this ratio so strange?

A couple of mathematical follow-ups to my recent post about my niece’s wedding:

  1. Wedding favors are a standard perk; in this case we received tote bags hand-made by the bride. But there was a mathematical twist to the posted sign:

    The centerpieces consisted of fresh fruit and decorative veggies, as you have surmised from the sign, but that’s not the mathematical question. The question is why the ratio of 0.86 bags per person seems so strange. There’s something about non-integers in ratios that amuses people or makes them uncomfortable, depending on their relationship with numbers. For examples, odds may be reported as “2 to 5 in favor of X,” but nobody says “1 to 2.5 in favor of X,” even though it’s equivalent. Worse yet, what about “1 to 0.4 against X,” which is still equivalent? Years ago, a colleague and I wrote a problem requiring conversion of “number of sunflower seeds per dollar” to “number of dollars per sunflower seed,” and the answer sure looked strange. So 0.86 bags per person struck guests as funny, in either sense of the word. Sounds normal to me though!
  2. It’s not quite clear how the next set of signs relate to math, but I’m sure they must. These were the labels on the food items for the reception:


Categories: Math