Would you rather have 1 pound of solid gold or 40,000,000 individual Cheez-Its? [#6]

Fascinating mathematical calculations and the value of asking seemingly stupid questions.

Would you rather have 1 pound of solid gold or 40,000,000 individual Cheez-Its? [#6]

You see the article title up there? I’m sure you do.

So answer the question – would you rather have one pound of solid gold or 40,000,000 individual Cheez-Its? Don’t search anything up on Google – just go with your gut.

Now that you’ve done that, let’s get to the fun part – answering the following questions:

  • How much does it cost to purchase one pound of solid gold? How much does it cost to purchase 40,000,000 Cheez-Its?
  • How much volume does one pound of gold occupy? How much volume do 40,000,000 Cheez-Its occupy?
  • How long could you survive on 40,000,000 Cheez-Its? Why do Cheez-Its taste so dang good? (Okay, maybe not that last one.)
  • Is there value in asking such silly questions (like this one)?

1. Cost


This calculation is relatively simple. At the time of writing, the price of gold is $1800 / troy ounce, or $26,244/lb¹.

So if you wanted, you could just sell your gold and pocket a nice $26k.


This calculation is harder. After ~20-30m of searching, I found this deal on Walmart which sells Cheez-Its in bulk for only 25¢/oz.

A quick glance at the Nutrition Facts reveals that each container contains approximately 540 Cheez-Its. And the carton only costs $5.28. This means that 40,000,000 Cheez-Its will cost…

$391,111.11. That’s enough to buy a nice house.


So it costs way more to buy 40,000,000 Cheez-Its than it does to buy a pound of gold. But are you really going to use or eat 40,000,000 Cheez-Its?

Here’s something else to consider: liquidity. Liquidity is an economic term used to describe the “ease with which an asset, or security, can be converted into ready cash without affecting its market price.” Gold is a highly liquid asset, while Cheez-Its are considerably less liquid. You’d be hard-pressed to find a buyer for your massive Cheez-It stockpiles.

And the shelf life of Cheez-Its is reportedly 11 months, so you’d have to use or eat those Cheez-Its pretty fast.

2. Volume


This calculation is also easy. Pure gold has a density of 19.3 g/cm^3 – so 1 pound of pure gold takes up about 1.43 cubic inches, or slightly less than the volume of a regular-sized marshmallow.

These three marshmallows (made of solid gold) would cost over ~$90k.


I wish I could find the density of a Cheez-It online. I couldn’t – so I drove to my nearest H.E.B. and purchased a small carton of Cheez-Its. Then, I picked out 50 whole, unbroken Cheez-Its and placed them in a measuring cup.

Yes, the picture angle looks off. It's one of the only good pictures I took.

I shook the measuring cup a few times and took a few measurements. The 50 Cheez-Its occupy approximately 225mL, or 225 cubic centimeters. A few more calculations reveal that 40,000,000 Cheez-Its would occupy ~180 cubic meters, or the space inside 16 cement mixer trucks²!

You could also fill up a full-size hockey rink with a 4-inch layer of Cheez-Its³, which – if nothing else – would probably create the most difficult game of hockey ever.


A marshmallow-size piece of gold would easily fit in the palm of your hand. Where would you even store 180 cubic meters of Cheez-Its? And you’d have to throw a ton of parties to give away all those Cheez-Its.

3. Survival Time

You’re on a remote-controlled cargo plane, which is carrying 40,000,000 Cheez-Its across the Atlantic Ocean.

"But Nathan, 40,000,000 Cheez-Its weighs 44 metric tonnes⁴!"

Whatever. But your plane crashes, and you are stranded on a desert island with all those Cheez-Its (and an adequate supply of water). How long could you survive?

The answer turns out to be 304 years⁵. But you’d probably succumb to starvation much sooner than that, for three reasons:

  • Nutritional deficiency (you won’t get sufficient nutrients and vitamins from only eating Cheez-Its).
  • Spoilage (in a few years’ time, the Cheez-Its will become inedible).
  • Breakage (because the plane crash-landed, a decent portion of your Cheez-Its became dust and mixed in the surrounding sand – or something else, but I personally hate eating cheese dust).

But hey – at least you wouldn't get tired of your food. I already eat way too many Cheez-Its and they seem to always stay delicious.

4. The Value of Asking Stupid Questions

When I first thought of the original question (same as the article title), I was having Christmas Eve lunch with some of my younger friends and their families. And while the food was delicious, the conversation was stagnant.

As the host family, I felt the urge to break the ice a little. And I decided to ask the question, even though I thought it was a bit stupid.

But that's all it took.

Everyone at the table gave their opinion on my original question (interestingly, most chose the gold). Then we started coming up with more questions:

  • Would you rather spend five years on Mars or ten years in destitute poverty? (Survival is guaranteed in both cases.)
  • Would you rather have two of your dominant hand (so two right hands for most people) or have two normal hands (so nothing changes)?
  • Would you rather be the richest person alive 200 years ago or live below the poverty line 100 years in the future?

Despite their general silliness, there's considerable merit to these questions. You can ask anyone these questions, and you're almost guaranteed to get an interesting answer and justification. And unlike most normal questions we encounter on a daily basis, these questions are purely for fun. They're not serious at all.

So I challenge you to come up with your own stupid questions. If you want to break the ice at a party or simply learn more about someone, just ask them!

And I hope you've made a very important decision on whether you want one pound of solid gold or 40,000,000 Cheez-Its.

5. Footnotes

¹ On the US futures market.

² This seems like it could be an awesome MrBeast video.

³ I know I keep switching between metric and imperial units, but I don’t care.

⁴ Looks like you'd need three Mil Mi-26 heavy lift cargo helicopters to lift 44 metric tonnes of Cheez-Its, since each individual Cheez-It weighs ~1.1g.

⁵ Assuming a caloric intake of 2000 cal/day.

6. Final Notes

I am not sponsored by the Cheez-Its brand or their parent company Kelloggs. For the sake of readability, copyright (©) and trademark (®) symbols have been omitted from the article. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended.