How Many Licks It Takes to Get to the Center of a Tootsie Pop

Today I found out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll tootsie pop.

Obviously this depends somewhat on a variety of factors such as the size of the person’s tongue; whether they concentrate the licking on just one side; how hard they press with their tongue; amount of saliva; etc.  In any event, many researchers and others have attempted to tackle this problem with the following results:

  • Engineering students from Purdue University created a licking machine that mimicked the human tongue and the licking motion.  They then tested this machine against real tootsie pops with the results being an average of 364 licks to get to the center of the tootsie pop licking from only one side constantly.
  • These same students from Purdue also tested this against their own tongues and found that it took an average of 252 licks to get to the center, again only licking from one side, but this time with  real tongues.
  • For a little more off the wall results, students at the University of Cambridge concluded that it takes 3481 licks to reach the center.  One can only deduce from their results that the University of Cambridge has the most timid lickers in the world.
  • According to Tootsie Roll Industries, over 20,000 letters from children around the world have been mailed to them concerning this issue since 1970 with the average child reporting that it took them about 600 licks to reach the center.  No doubt the higher number of licks is accounted for by their smaller tongues and the fact that they weren’t necessarily concentrating on one side only.
  • This latter theory is also backed up by independent researchers who found by licking one side, then rotating to the other side and licking again and continuing to do this until you reach the center, that it takes an average of 508 licks to reach the center using the “even licking” method.

Both the latter result of an average of 508 licks when licking both sides evenly and the Purdue student’s results of an average of 252 licks when concentrating on one side are remarkably consistent, so it would seem for an adult it takes around 250-ish licks to get to the center of a tootsie roll tootsie pop if only licking from one side and about twice that when licking both sides evenly.

Bonus Facts:

  • Tootsie Rolls were named after creator Leo Hirshfield’s five year old daughter whose nickname was “Tootsie” (her real name was Clara Hirshfield).  Hirshfield set out to create a chocolate that wouldn’t melt easily and eventually came up with the artificial “chocolate” candy the tootsie roll.  This ability to not melt easily and to use artificial ingredients that weren’t being rationed during war times proved a huge boon for the company as it eventually began being included in all soldier’s rations during WWII.  The low price of the artificial ingredients also made it a popular treat during the depression along with the tootsie pop.
  • The tootsie pop was created in 1930 by Brandon Perry who was working for The Sweets Company of America who also made tootsie rolls.
  • About 64 million tootsie rolls are produced every day along with twenty million tootsie pops.
  • Whenever someone mails in a letter to Tootsie Roll Industries stating how many licks it took to get to the center of a tootsie pop, they are sent a certificate called a “Clean Stick Award”.
  • As alluded to previously, before Tootsie Roll Industries was known as such, they were named the The Sweets Company of America.  They changed their name from that to Tootsie Roll Industries in 1966.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Tootsie Roll Industries has never accepted the wrappers of a tootsie pop in exchange for a prize.  The common rumor was that if it contained a Native American boy shooting a star, you’d get a free tootsie pop.  If it contained three unbroken circles, you’d likewise be given free candy.  According to Tootsie Roll Industries, they have never run any such promotion and the Native American boy alone appears on about 1/3 of the wrappers. It’s unknown where that rumor got started; interestingly though, the rumor was perpetuated by a few store owners who would accept the wrappers in exchange for prizes such as a tootsie pop or a tootsie roll.
  • Tootsie rolls were the first “penny” candy to be individually wrapped.
  • Tootsie Roll Industries is today one of the largest candy manufacturers in the world, not just selling Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops, but also Charm’s Blow Pops; Mason Dots; Charleston Chew; Dubble Bubble; Razzles; Caramel Apple Pop; Junior Mints; and Cella’s Chocolate-Covered Cherries, among others.
  • Tootsie rolls are made of sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk, artificial cocoa flavoring whey, soy lecithin, orange extract, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and other artificial flavors.
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  • It took me 1,473 licks. Lol.

  • My sister designed a lab for her 8th grade science class where they measured the amount removed per lick by first weighing a new Tootsie-Roll Pop, licking it a certain number of times, letting it dry, and re-weighing it. Then they removed all of the remaining candy and weighed the center. They used their experimental data to calculate how many licks it would take to remove all of the candy coating. I always thought this was a very clever lab. She said the kids always enjoyed it.

  • Took me 220 licks.