Pez Problem

A present arrives with the strange inscription, "To Be Shared by C. Brown and L. Van Pelt". The package contains 10 different colored Pez dispensers, each of which is filled with one each of the same 17 different flavors of Pez candy. The giantess Lucy announces that the sharing will proceed as follows: she will eat each candy from (the top of) each dispenser until a licorice appears, at which time she will give the rest of the dispenser to Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown, after consulting with his statistical consultant and beagle, agrees that this will be fair, since neither of them like licorice.

"But it's still not good, because there might be a flavor I never get to try!", he remembers. "The chances are just as good that there's a flavor I never get," says Lucy,"so it's VERY fair!"

Assuming that the 17 flavors are randomly permuted in each dispenser, what ARE the chances that there is a flavor Charlie Brown never gets?

Len M. Smiley
Last modified: Mon Apr 12 15:06:42 AKDT 1999