Q: What’s black and white and red all over?
A: A newspaper.
My informant first heard this riddle in third grade during a show and tell in her elementary school in Downey, CA. Some of her classmates that did not have anything to show could just tell a joke they knew. One of her classmates gave this riddle, and no one had been able to figure it out in her class. A newspaper is certainly black and white, and it is “read” all over. The children persistently thought what object could be the colors black, white, and “red,” so they were stumped.
Riddles like these are handy for entertainment purposes. I believe that people tell such riddles because they would like to engage a crowd big or small. When told a riddle, people are naturally inclined to solve it, and if they give up, they are eager to know the answer. Usually the answer is a very simple one whereas people trying to solve the riddle looked too deeply into it. That is also very entertaining when the answer turns out to be something that was so obvious, but they never thought it would be that easy.
Annotation: This riddle was in the 1995 movie “Batman Forever” in which the villain, the Riddler, played by actor Jim Carey asks this riddle.