03/18/2013 06:08 pm ET Updated May 18, 2013

My Response to a Six-Year Old Boy's Hypothetical Question

For the third installment in his monumentally important series of essays, writer Tim Mattingly will be breaking down and analyzing another of the universe's most difficult hypothetical questions. So put your thinking caps on. This one delves deep into the complex subject of edible limbs...

I used to give guitar lessons to little kids. One day my six-year old student Sam brought the lesson to a dead halt to ask me a pressing guitar-related question. He asked, "Would you rather have an ice cream cone for a hand... or a slice of pizza for a foot?"

I told him I would want an ice cream cone for a hand, he agreed, and we continued with the rest of the lesson. But ever since then, I've wanted to give his thought-provoking question the thorough analysis it deserves. And this blog seems like the perfect place to do so. Did I answer Sam honestly? Would I truly prefer an ice cream cone hand over a pizza foot? What would having such appendages realistically entail? Well, let's explore the possibilities.

First of all, I think it's important to note that in Sam's eyes, both of these scenarios are "good." Sam probably imagined that he would be able to endlessly eat his hand or foot without the amount of ice cream or pizza ever diminishing. But let's be real. The ice cream would melt and the pizza would harden. Sorry, Sam, but you would end up with an empty cone for a hand and a stale, moldy slice of pizza for a foot. So, unlike Sam, I am simply trying to decide which of these scenarios would be less bad.

Realistically, I think I would choose the pizza foot. An empty ice cream cone for a hand would drastically reduce my ability to get around. It would basically be like having only one hand. You can't really pick up or hold anything with an ice cream cone.


One of the few things you could hold with an ice cream cone hand.

A hardened slice of pizza where my foot should be would only slightly impair my mobility. I would probably just slip a lot if I wasn't wearing shoes... which actually brings me to my next point: I would wear shoes. I could just stuff the pizza inside a normal shoe and people would be none the wiser. I would get around fine. If the pizza became so hardened that it could not fit inside a normal shoe, I would have to buy a custom pizza-shaped shoe. But that would be a small price to pay in comparison to having an empty ice cream cone for a hand.

BUT...if having an infinite supply of ice cream coming from my ice cream cone hand was possible, then I would definitely choose that one. Granted, I like pizza more than ice cream, but I'm not very flexible and I would have trouble chewing on my foot.

Well, come to think of it, I actually don't know if I like ice cream enough to make an ice cream cone hand worth it. Sure, I would have an infinite supply, but I would still only have one working hand. I guess when it comes down to it, ice cream is not as important to me as having two hands. So I think I would rather have the pizza foot.

Interestingly, my decision has nothing to do with the taste of pizza or the taste of ice cream. It's likely that my reasoning goes against Sam's original intention upon asking the question, which was probably just to find out if I liked ice cream more than pizza. In a weird way.

So there it is. I choose a pizza foot. I don't teach Sam anymore, but I assume he would have a very convincing argument as to why an ice cream cone hand would be better. Something along the lines of, "BECAUSE IT'S AN ICE CREAM CONE!! FOR A HAND!!!" And how can I argue with that logic?

If you found this essay enlightening, you can read the first essay of the Hypothetical Series here.
And you can read the second here.
And you can read a bunch more here.

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