“What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the rich need it, the poor have it, and if you eat it you die?”


Geoff does not recall where he got this true riddle. He usually tells this riddle at family functions during the holidays because it is all-ages appropriate; he can tell the joke in front of his grandmother and children. He says he likes to tell it because everyone understands it right away, and people like it. He finds it amusing because supposedly more kindergarteners get the answer right than Stanford University graduates.

Just like Geoff, this particular riddle is pretty clean-cut and inoffensive. It is fitting he picks riddles that fit his personality and identity. He is very conscientious so he would never tell a riddle that could possibly offend someone. Also, he is religious, so it would make sense that he would say nothing is greater than God and nothing is more evil than the devil.

For me, this riddle was not a big surprise. The answer seemed really obvious afterwards, and I feel like had I thought about it, I would have eventually gotten it. This riddle does not really seem like much of an intellectual challenge, it seems to be pretty easy. However, I guess that is the point since Geoff says everyone laughs because it is so easy to understand.

I am surprised he tells riddles at family functions. I am not surprised that he tells this kind of riddle at family functions- meaning a completely clean one- but I just did not think people recited riddles very often anymore.

I think this riddle says something about how Americans view what they should be like. Americans tend to repress aggressive or sexual tendencies. It makes sense that Geoff would tell a completely clean riddle in public because that is what he is supposed to do. He is not supposed to tell dirty riddles or jokes at a family function. He is conforming to how society says he should interact at family functions. Society says he should avoid saying anything risqué. I think this is kind of sad because it is not realistic. While I agree that one should not tell dirty jokes or unclean riddles in front of grandparents or young children, I do not think folklore or things in general should be over-censored. Although usually jokes are a way to fight against authority and restrictions, this riddle shows that riddles can also be a way of reinforcing social norms.