People Can't Agree On How Many Licks It Actually Takes To Get To The Center Of A Tootsie Pop

It was 51 years ago when this question was first asked: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? The animated ad shared by the Tootsie Roll Industries on YouTube shows a young boy asking various animals this question, all of whom confess that they've never made it without biting through. Finally Mr. Owl declares the answer to be three licks, since that's all he can manage without crunching into the chocolate, Tootsie Roll center. Even viewers who aren't old enough to have seen this ad on television when it first aired are likely familiar with this playful Tootsie Pop campaign. According to Better Marketing, it's an advertiser's dream: One of the most successful and enduring ad campaigns even after five decades, and one that today still sets tongues a-wagging — or rather, a-licking! Because even after 51 years, there's no clear answer to this question.

The official Tootsie Roll Industries website says that a group of researchers in the Perdue University engineering department decided to answer the question once and for all by inventing a licking machine. That's right: A licking machine, created to act like a human tongue. And the results? It took their licking machine an average of 364 licks to get to the center of the lollipop. One might think that this would put the question to rest, but it turns out that other licking tests (official and unofficial) have had much different results. 

The great Tootsie Roll debate could live on for decades to come

Tootsie Roll Industries shares on their official website that an engineering student at the University of Michigan invented their own licking machine. That contraption came up with a higher number: 411 licks to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. A group of middle school students went for a more traditional approach of just licking Tootsie Pops, and managed to get to the center with an impressive 144 licks. 

The debate was recently reignited on Reddit, when one user shared the results of the Perdue University study. User UnstuckTimePilgrim responded that they conducted their own lick test as a kid, and it took 1,150 licks to reach the center. For their efforts they received a certificate from the Tootsie Roll company and neighborhood fame! Other users on the thread shared similar results, with lick counts ranging from 1,012 to a high of 1,436. However, user Freeman7-13 said that in a Tootsie Pop science experiment at their school it took only 800 licks. 

It seems even after half a century we're no closer to agreeing on how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Several users on this Reddit thread do agree about one thing though: To feeling very frustrated with Mr. Owl in the Tootsie Pop ad (shared on YouTube) — for falsely claiming that it only takes three licks, and for stealing that child's lollipop!