Vintage Quaker Oats Puzzle

As seen on Deceptology blog, company called Quaker Oats published an interesting advertising booklet way back in 1895. This vintage booklet contained 25 nursery rhymes, but more importantly there was a DIY optical illusion puzzle printed on its front cover. Might be interesting to know this item is now sold as vintage collectable (also known as “advertising ephemera”). But let’s jump straight to the point – How many packages can you count? Are there 6 or 7 or 14 packages present? What happens if you turn the puzzle upside-down? Anyone volunteers to explain? If you wish, you can also print it, cut a hole in the middle and put a pencil through it, making it interactive in real world. Who knows, maybe this little curiosity would represent a fun distraction for you and your school buddies. Anyway, when you solve this one – head next to somewhat more complex puzzles. One involves a mad scientist and his soccer team, and the other missing eggs and boulders!

43 Replies to “Vintage Quaker Oats Puzzle”

  1. I understand how the illusion is made.
    It’s all about the V shape that the upper and lower edges of the boxes make, seeming to make the box ‘pop out’ towards the viewer. However, since the V is turned up-side-down in the second shot, what your eye defines as ‘popping out’ is changed, because your eye still looks for the same ‘V’ shape.
    Basically, when the picture is turned up-side-down, the V’s (which is how you find something that pops out) are turned around too, but your eye continues to look for the same right-side-up V formations, meaning that you will see different things in each shot.
    If that makes sense…

  2. Assuming that they are stacked on one another like in a grocery store display (hence the printed frame) there are 10 – 11 if you count the one he’s holding.

    Agree? Disagree?

    1. 10-11 wasn’t even given as one of the 3 possible answers…

      First Picture:

      6 if you count the first pictures obvious boxes only
      7 if you include the one he’s holding

      Second Picture:

      7 if you count the obvious boxes only
      8 if you include the one he’s holding

      Noting the first and second picture are the same:

      6 from the first way your eyes can see the boxes (ie boxes blatantly visible in the 1st photo)
      7 from the second way your eyes can see the boxes (ie boxes blatantly visible in the 2nd photo)
      1 which he holds

      = 14

      How did you even get 10-11?

    2. Disagree. I flipped it on it’s side and found that there are actually 14 if you include the one that he is holding.

    3. I disagree, In the first one I counted 13 including the one he is holding whilst in the second only 11, again including the one being held!!
      Great illusion can’t wait for more!!

    4. Looking at the upright picture I can see 13 boxes because there are two box tops in the front of the other 11 (counting the one he’s holding). If you count all that you believe there are (assuming there are other boxes stacked underneath the boxes you can see) there are at least 33 if the box tops seen in the front are the bottom layer of each stack…

  3. Actually there are 14 including the one he’s holding. You have to look at the same picture and force your eyes to see both their native adjusted image (6 boxes + 1 he’s holding) and the boxes that your eyes don’t natively adjust to. That means look at a segment next to a box that you see, and try to make your eyes see that as a box whose corner is closest to you with its orientation slanted slightly upward as opposed to the downward orientation that you immediately notice of the first 6 boxes. If you can do that, there are:

    Top row (row = going left to right) : 3 boxes
    Next row down : 5 boxes
    Bottom row : 5 boxes
    + 1 box he’s holding = 14 boxes.

    In other words, depending on how you are able to adjust your eyes there is immediately one box in the top row noticeable.. after forceing vision to recognize the “indent looking boxes to the left and right of it” as actual boxes themselves where the middle 1 box becomes the indent looking box, two boxes are noticeable on the top row.

    The next row down looks like 2 boxes are immediately visible, but forceing your vision to accept the left and right and middle sides of those 2 boxes where there appear to be indents, to be boxes themselves, lends you to notice 3 boxes.

    The bottom row looks like 3 boxes are immediately visible, but forcing your vision into accepting the indent space between the middle box and the boxes to the left and right of it, to look like boxes, you wind up with 2 boxes.

    He holds 1 box.

    1 box on top
    2 boxes on top with switched visual perception
    2 boxes in middle
    3 boxes in middle with switched visual perception
    3 boxes on bottom
    2 boxes on bottom with switched visual perception



    I suppose this ability to perceive what others cannot, despite being told their vision is deceiving them, is what seperates us MENSA members from you guys ;)

  4. oh I like this one …..

    here is my count ……

    The first one, there are 7 packages …. yes the Quaker is also holding one :-)

    in the Upside down one, there are 8 packages …. including the one held by the Quaker.

  5. If you count carefully, there are actually 13 crates altogether. You may think there are 6 right-side-up crates and 7 upside-down crates in the first picture and 7 right-side-up crates and 6 upside-down crates in the second picture because the crates are purposely drawn just like a Necker’s Cube to fool your perception.

    My photo.

  6. Ooo that’s a good one, rightside up I count 13 inc the one he’s holding, but upside down I only count 11 inc the one he’s holding, confuzzled >.<

  7. the number of boxes changes because in figures because for example the two yellow squares you see in the inferior part of the left figure CAN BE the bottom of boxes you see from an inferior point of view AND the top sides of boxes of two boxes without body! it dependes how swap the vision of these boxes (Escher would say: “concave or convex”); i’d like you to see the stair picture done on a grid made by myself; how can I show it?

  8. This is amazing, if you flip your head around, with your eyes fixed on a box, nothing will change but, rite when you move your eyes the form changes!

  9. The illusion uses the same principle as the spinning dancer or wire-frame cube. You THINK you see a 3D object/scene, but the depth perspective is tampered with and things that are supposed to be farther back are not actually smaller.
    The guy in the picture serves to hint that you’re seeing the top side of boxes, but if you ignore him you can easily make the stack of boxes appear to be hanging from the ceiling instead, much like you can with the wire-frame cube or like you can make the spinning dancer change direction.

  10. i understand the illusion you are trying to portrey but it just looks like the same in both images, just that the picutre on the boxes are upside down and that the stack is flipped. it was a nice illusion but it didnt really work out.

  11. Trust me, there are 14 boxes… 13 boxes in the stacked up pile and 1 box the Quaker Oats man is holding.

    Very cool illusion! Made me look more than twice to be sure…but I’m right on target.

  12. Funny, I looked at it a completely different way. And thought that the boxes were opened, for least amount of waste, idk, counting that way I got 4, or 5 counting the one he’s holding, and I did notice the before reading the comments :)

  13. @Dave Swan – I’m sorry but I have to poke a hole in the stack theory, it doesn’t hold up both ways, right side up it’s 12+1, upside down it’s 10+1.

  14. Dave – totally missed the point
    Its a wonderful example of a Necker cube illusion

    “quaker nursery rhymes” really?

  15. I think that white people eat oatmeal, and black people eat cream of wheat, beacause of the men on the box. 6 one way 7 the other.

  16. you count the flaps, not the cubes. the 1st image has fewer cubes because there are 6 spare flaps left over, but in the 2nd image there are only 3 flaps left over. which means there are 3 less extra flaps; and 3 flaps make a box.

    Hence, the 2nd image has one more box. I saw it instantly.

  17. i made myself seeing the picture on the right side while looking at the picture on the left side. it’s something with my eyes i watched to the left one on a special way and saw the right picture but then upside down. that was very funny XD.

  18. I can see how it’s done but it’s so complicated to explain! just keep turning it around and counting and you’ll realise you’re actually counting different things when you turn it over! we perceive some of the boxes to be 3D but when we flip it over it’s the sides next to those boxes that come out as 3D, creating an extra one. Again, it’s so difficult to explain but once you get it, you get it! haha

  19. Just like Mr. Swan said there are 10 boxes, 11 if you count the one he’s holding. Its the same both ways. I may not be a MENSA member, but if you count the “Quaker” labels on the obvious boxes and then imagine the ones on the boxes where only the sides are shown add those in and then count the one he’s holding you arrive at 11. Stare at it too long and your eyes may play tricks on you, the Quaker labels appear to move from one side to the next. That may just be me tho.

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