How Many Licks to Get to the Center of a Tootsie Pop
Tootsy Pops are everyone’s favorite hard/gooey candy hybrid. But since their rollout in 1931, there has been a debate raging, How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
Tootsie finally made light of the question that was on everyone’s sugar-stained lips in a TV commercial which aired in 1969, with an inquisitive young boy popping the iconic question. Believe it or not, there have been three separate scientific studies to get to the bottom of the question.
The first took place in Purdue University and saw a group of engineering students build a licking machine modeled on the human tongue. The group concluded that it took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Interestingly, 20 students chose to put their own tongues on the line in the name of science and concluded that it took an average of 252 licks to get to the center.
The University of Michigan was the next to use their award-winning science facilities to tackle the question, with a chemical engineering doctorate student designing and building their own licking machine to put to the test. They took 411 licks to reach the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.
Lastly, Swarthmore Junior High School used what can only be described as child labor, employing the tongues of their students to conclude that it takes exactly 144 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie pop.
Looking at humanity’s collective efforts so far and it’s easy to come away entirely disappointed, as the variation here is simply too high to conclude a definitive answer to this age-old question. Hopefully, as science progresses and humanity starts to pool their research together towards this noble goal, we may one day know how many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie pop.