Albatross Riddle

Text: “A man sits down in a restaurant, and orders albatross soup. He takes one bite, then immediately leaves the restaurant and kills himself. Why did he do it?”

Context: My informant heard this riddle while on a backpacking trip over summer break with his friends in high school. Unlike a traditional riddle, this riddle requires the listener to ask yes or no questions about the man and his situation, until they gain enough information to deduce the answer: the man was on a plane with his wife, and the plane crashed on a deserted island killing her. Before they got rescued, the survivors had to do whatever they could to survive, and the man ultimately ate what he was told by the other survivors to be “albatross soup”, which was really prepared from his wife’s remains. When the man sat down in the restaurant and tasted real albatross soup, he realized it tasted different than when he was on the island, and deduced that he ate his own wife.

Analysis: Because the riddle requires the listener to construct the story from very little initial information, this riddle puts a fun twist on the normal form of the riddle. The yes or no questions allow the listener to feel as if they are uncovering a hidden truth, and the dynamic between the listener and the riddler, combined with the mysterious and dark nature of the initial prompt makes the game fun for both participants.