How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

The world may never know, but these folks sure gave it a shot

Many are familiar with the age-old question: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

While it’s certainly a catchy marketing slogan, it turns out that it actually has an answer — or several, according to Tootsie Roll Industries.

The company’s website lists four studies that were published in an attempt to get to the chocolatey center of that signature question.

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Purdue University — 364 licks

Engineering students from Purdue University constructed a “licking machine” fashioned after a human tongue, and it took an average 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the company states.

However, 20 volunteers in the study also took on the challenge with their own tongues, averaging 252 licks, according to Tootsie Roll Industries. So this answer may depend on whether you favor man or machine.

University of Michigan — 411 licks

In the next study, the company says a chemical engineering doctorate student from the University of Michigan published the results of his own licking machine, which required 411 licks to reach the lollipop’s center.

Unfortunately, no information was provided on whether the student decided to indulge himself to test that figure.

Bellarmine University — It depends on the flavor

This study may be the most complex one of the bunch.

Researchers with Bellarmine University gathered 130 participants to study the number of licks needed on the basis of sex, the amount of time taken and even the color of the Tootsie Pop, the company says.

When it came to the male subjects, the study shows that they took the following average number of licks per flavor.

  • Grape: 195 licks
  • Orange: 167 licks
  • Raspberry: 195 licks

As for the female subjects, the data instead shows the following results.

  • Grape: 199 licks
  • Orange: 138 licks
  • Raspberry: 160 licks

In total, this means that the orange lollipops required the least amount of time and licks to reach its center, the findings show.

Researchers also ended their report with a quick jab at Tootsie Pop commercials.

“While the current researchers do not agree with the commercial voice over announcer that ‘the world may never know’ how many it takes to the center of a Tootsie Pop, we believe our estimate is the most accurate and takes into account human behavior and dynamics,” the study reads.

For more on the experiment, click here.

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About the Author:

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined in April 2022.