Sweet Science: Study Discovers How Many Licks It Takes to Reach the Center of a Tootsie Pop

A group of mathematicians have figured out one of the greatest questions in candy history

Photo: Tootsie Roll/Instagram

Though the Tootsie Pop was created in 1931, its true mythos didn’t start until 1969. This was the year the candy’s infamous animated commercial debuted, asking viewers, “How many licks does it take to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop?”

Folks spent decades wandering around the forest asking animals for their take on the quandary, but a clear answer was never reached … until now.

According to ABC News, mathematicians at New York University have finally figured out the answer. This group of well-accredited candy lovers determined it takes 1,000 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

“We used these results to figure out in general how fluids dissolve materials, and we realized that that is basically what you’re doing when you re enjoying a lollipop,” applied mathematics professor Leif Ristroph said.

Using that model, we can take an object of any size and kind of a typical flow speed that would be determined by how fast you lick candy, and then determine how long it would take for that to dissolve all the material away.”

Based on this model, the group was able to confidently estimate how many licks it would take to reach a Tootsie Pop’s chewy center.

While this makes the study sound simple, Ristroph admits the Tootsie Pop study had its challenges. Even math’s greatest minds had trouble resisting the urge to bite into the lollipop.

Thankfully, Tootsie Roll Industries sent along plenty of the suckers to New York University for research.

“How many licks is a question fans of our candy have asked us for decades, the candy company’s president, Ellen Gordon, said. We’re thrilled that New York University has conducted a study to help find out how many licks it really takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.

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