Amish Mystery Supper: 13 Food Riddles

Amish youth at Belle Center, Ohio (and elsewhere) may take part in a fun social event called a “Mystery Supper”.  Mark Curtis shares how this unusual meal works (thanks to Don Curtis for relaying the details):

The youth come in and sit down for supper.  At their place is a plate and a list of numbered blanks.

The blanks must be completely filled out in about ten minutes using a list of around 12 to 16 mystery items that they must choose from in ordering their supper.  The list of blanks is organized into three courses. The young folks put the number of the named item on the numbered blank.

Amish Mystery DinnerThe only problem is they don’t know what each item is because it is weirdly named.  “Mortar” might turn out to be mashed potatoes.  Water might be “A necessary cleanliness item.”  They don’t get the next course until they have finished the course they are eating.

This can be a problem because they don’t know if they ordered utensils to eat it with. That’s right, the utensils and drink are disguised in the list.  So you might have ordered the dessert and a toothpick in the first course with no water and no utensils. The boy sitting next to Mark didn’t get any of his utensils until the third and last course.  He had to eat [his main course] with no utensils.

Here is the “menu” from a recent mystery supper:

1. Hygiene Essential
2. Colorful Downfall
3. Healthy Rollups
4. Variety Pack
5. Point of Decision
6. Pigs Disgrace
7. Foreign Fundraiser
8. Payroll Overtime
9. Grassy Snappers
10. Fire Starter
11. Dieters Downfall
12. Prickly Riser
13. Best Friend in a Jam

These numbered items included the appetizer, salad, main course, dessert, drink, and utensils.

What could these disguised menu items be?  If you were at a mystery supper, how would you fill out each course of your meal?

Here are the menu items per course:

Course 1: choose 5 items

Course 2: choose 4 items

Course 3: choose 4 items

I’ve got the answers, and also Mark’s selections for this dinner (he didn’t do too badly).  I’ll share that later, after we get some of your guesses.  Bon…appetit?

Dinner photo: Dano/flickr

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    1. Juanita Cook

      That sounds likea lot of fun. My only problem with it would be if there was pork on the menu as I don’t eat it at all.

    2. Andrea

      Amish Mystery Supper

      This dinner sounds like it would be a lot of fun.
      I would suggest that our youth group try it, even the singles group would have fun with this one.

    3. That sounds like a fun idea for a party!

    4. I’d love to be a bug on the wall to watch the fun at an Amish Mystery Supper.

    5. Mandy C


      Here are a few guesses…I may be way off base, but this is what I’m thinking:

      1. Water

      5. Fork

      11. Cake or pie

      12. Corn?

      13. Peanut Butter?

      I am having a fun time trying to guess these, but I’m afraid I’ve never been very good at puzzles. I’m looking forward to seeing the answers!

    6. Now here’s something I’d like to try sometime. What a ton of fun that would be!

    7. Tom

      Sounds very fun. I would like to try this one time.
      My guesses : 1-Water
      9-Vegetable (green beans?)
      13-apple butter
      Just guesses dont know how I would do at a mystery supper but it sounds fun.

    8. Debbie

      OK, here is my guess

      1. water
      3. some kind of a sandwich wrap
      4. mixed vegetables
      5. knife
      8. salad
      9. green beans
      11. Pie
      13. stuffing

    9. Erin

      This is a really neat idea. I might just have to organize this for the next Cousin Cookie Exchange!

      Course 1:
      1 (water), 4 (utensils), 9 (lettuce salad), 13 (bread), 12 (relishes)

      Course 2:
      2 (pasta salad), 3 (zucchini), 6 (hamburger), 7 (bun)

      Course 3:
      5 (pie), 8 (ice cream), 11 (cream), 10 (coffee)

      1. Mystery meal

        Really enjoying these responses. I think the answers are going to be pretty funny for some of you.

        Erin I like the way you did it here organized by course (+ your guesses). I have seen the answers already, but when I look at the list, I am stumped on most of them, I know I’d have no chance. Probably be one of the ones getting my fork and knife in the 3rd course 🙂

    10. KimH

      Course 1
      4. Variety Pack, 7. Foreign Fundraiser, 10 Fire starter, 6 Pigs Disgrace, 12, prickly riser
      Course 2
      8 payroll Overtime, 9 grassy snappers, 11, dieters downfall, 2 colorful downfall
      Course 3
      1Hygene essential, 3 Healthy rollup, 5 point of decision, 13 best friend in a jam.

      lol.. fun fun..

    11. Dale

      I’ve served at this type of supper. All the guests had to order from was a menu of numbers though. Each utensil was a different number too. They’d all been a cocktail hour(s) before hand so their reaction was hilarious.

    12. Char

      Here are my guesses:
      1. Hygiene Essential – water
      2. Colorful Downfall – carrots
      3. Healthy Rollups – fruit roll-ups or sandwich wraps
      4. Variety Pack – salad
      5. Point of Decision – fork
      6. Pigs Disgrace – bacon
      7. Foreign Fundraiser – French bread
      8. Payroll Overtime – lettuce [money?]
      9. Grassy Snappers – peas
      10. Fire Starter – coffee
      11. Dieters Downfall – dessert
      12. Prickly Riser – tomatoes
      13. Best Friend in a Jam – knife

    13. Debra Harbour

      1. Hygiene Essential I think it is a napkin. Just a guess.

    14. Don Curtis

      After supper

      Mark said that after supper the youth played some games and tricks on each other. One game was a quiz on angels mentioned in the Bible. One game was a scavenger hunt. Another game you had to unwrap a piece of gum with thick gloves. The one trick they played on Mark they had a group of four guys all sitting in a row right in front of a row of spectators. Each guy was told he must stand up; make the sound of the barnyard animal he was assigned; then turn around and bow to his chair. What Mark didn’t know was that all the other boys in the row were a part of the trick. The first boy was told he must be a cow. The second boy was told he must make a sound like a sheep. Mark was third, he was told he must make a sound like a chicken. The fourth was told he must bark like a dog. So, the first one mooed like a cow. Turned around and bowed to his chair. Then sat down. The second boy baaaed like a sheep and turned around and bowed to his chair and sat down. It was Mark’s turn so he stood up and clucked like a chicken. (I wish I could have seen this.) Then Mark turned around to bow to his chair……THERE WAS AN EGG LAYING THERE! One of the supposed spectators was hiding an egg and put it on Mark’s chair when he stood up. When he turned around and bowed, there it was. The fourth boy never had to sound off because they were all in on it.

      1. Erin

        That’s a great story, Don! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like Mark’s community knows how to have a good time.

      2. Christine McMahon-Chase

        comment on Don's reply

        What fun ~ I’ll bet Mark was surprised to find he had laid an egg!

    15. Al in Ky

      Really enjoyed this post. I read quite often in The Budget about
      other groups of Amish youth, young adults, etc. having Mystery Suppers. Also enjoyed reading about the activities after supper. It brought back memories of growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in
      a farming community in Minn. We (non-Amish) had things like
      mystery suppers, and then playing group games, singing, etc.
      after supper. My dad always said, “We didn’t have lots of money,
      but we sure had lots of fun.” Rural life/entertainment for Non-Amish people has changed so much since then, and I’m glad to read of Amish still enjoying having good times like this.

    16. Alice Mary

      What a hoot! I won’t dare guess, as I’m late to this posting, but this sounds like something I’ll share with my co-workers. It might make our annual “holiday party” (which often takes place AFTER the holidays) something to look forward to!

      How can anyone EAT between all the guffaws?! Now THIS would make for a “reality TV” program I’d actually WATCH—the non-Amish version, of course! 🙂

      Alice Mary

    17. Anne

      So funny!

      Don’s story about Mark is hilarious. And the meal is great fun. Most of us are too glued to our technology to have such creativity. Thanks for sharing this with us Don and Mark.

    18. Barb

      Mystery dinners are common youth group activities here, and I’ve also seen church youth groups use them as a way to involve older members in activities — like they do the dinner for the seniors of the church, or for their parents. It makes for a good fun evening, and intergenerational sharing. I’ve never heard it referred to as an Amish Mystery Dinner — it’s just an activity enjoyed by youth, and now I know the Amish also do it.

    19. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      This is a great idea! I am enjoying the replies.

      I would imagine that the people (ladies) who do the cooking must have had a bit of sense of humour about the whole thing.

    20. Sunflower

      Amish Mystery Dinner

      Hello! Just read this it’s about five years old now- but is there a link to the answers? Sounds like good clean fun! A friend’s church has a International Dinner where each course it served at a different member’s house. There’s about a dozen different homes to go to and they all decorate their dining rooms to match the country they are representing! A lot of fun and most are homeschoolers so it’s also a lesson for the children in the culture, home economics, and serving others. I’d love to see the answers if they are available. Thanks, and thanks again for this site!

      1. Here’s the answer key!

        Very glad you found us. And I always get a kick when people leave comments on old posts, it’s a nice chance to remember. You might also like this mystery breakfast post:

    21. Liz Bourgeois


      We did this mystery dinner at our church with our ladies ministry. It was a lot of fun! The men who volunteered were the waiters, and some of us women were the kitchen help. Most of the ladies had a wonderful time, however, there were some of the older ladies were not amused…at all! I guess a sense of humor doesn’t always improve with age! This is a great story, thanks for sharing!

    22. Anna Porter

      Amish sense of humor is fantastic

      What an amazing twist of fate for the older generation of us. I love this, as it comes from the olde county for many of us even though we are non-Amish, but completely respect them and their ways. Living in northern Missouri 24+ yrs. now and have many new young Amish and Mennonite communities near us these days—and welcome them dearly here in north Central MO-Howard Co–just west of Audrain and south of Randolph counties where they are expanding steadily. Sadly, many Boone County and southern folk, and beyond are buying property up here and it is not safe for them (Amish) with the way drive and are careless and with no regard. I recall a young Amish man and his newer pony being very spooky/still a very green pony and a local trying to outrun hard around them…I had to stop them (local) … horses of my own, and understand…where they could care less….shut them down for the next 6 miles to help my Amish neighbor out fairly. The dude was honking horn the whole time. Did not care about his arrogant attitude, just did the right thing. The young Amish fellow waved and smile at me when he turned off. That was absolute satisfaction for me. He made it home safe to his family. It matters. I’m an insurance adjustor and seen too many horrid accidents from that very type of scenario. Can’t allow that…ever. Times are tough for them. Encroachment of those looking to leave higher tax environments causes this….city folk moving out of cities and not ready for rural. FYI—I got 10 of the 13 right! Woohoo!