The world may never know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. But we can at least use data to make an educated guess.
A Kickstarter recently launched to create a documentary that would investigate this very issue. But rather than wait around for that project (which is hard to take seriously, given that per the Kickstarter, its production budget is $25), we created a meta-analysis of previous Tootsie Pop studies.
Ever since that goddamn 0wl tongue-teased audiences in the original 1970 TV ad, the question has haunted us.
There's been university studies at Purdue and Michigan. And a project by a junior high school. And a study showing that hungry people take fewer licks to get to the center than satiated folk; yes, there's a chart.
A fifth-grader compared fast licks to slow licks, and also human licks vs. a licking machine. Here's what his licking machine looks like.
He also made a cute and impressive-for-his-age chart showing his results. Conclusion: "The slower you lick the more candy coating is removed and faster you get to the center of the Tootsies Pop."
We were not able to find the sample size for every one of these studies. However, we aggregated the samples we could confirm (total n = 151) and found that between them, it takes 394.7 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, with a range of 142 to 882.
Now, it depends if you lick fast or slow, are hungry or full, are machine or human. But this is what science tells us thus far. We encourage you to expand upon this research and get licking. And please share your results below.