How Many Licks to Get to the Center of a Tootsie Pop: The Real Answer!

Have you seen that Tootsie Pop commercial? You know the one I’m talking about. People from ages five to 50 have enjoyed watching that kid go to an old smarty pants owl for advice only for the owl to eat the kid’s Tootsie Pop. The owl said it took three licks, but we all know that is bullcrap. So how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? And, while we’re asking questions, what exactly is at the center of a Tootsie Pop? And how old is that Tootsie Pop commercial anyway? Let’s start licking until we get to the center of these questions!

What is the center of a tootsie pop?

Before we get into the number of licks, let’s talk about what you’re trying to lick to get to. A Tootsie Pop is a hard candy lollipop with a Tootsie Roll in the center. What’s a Tootsie Roll? It’s a chewy, chocolate candy that has been around since the 1930s. Some lollipops have gum inside, Tootsie Pops have Tootsie Rolls in their center, and they’re delicious. 

How many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

Believe it or not, there have been multiple studies conducted to find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, and they all came up with different answers. A group of engineering students from Purdue built a licking machine designed after a human tongue. Huh, that seems unnecessary when there’s, you know, human tongues available. Anyway, the licking machine averaged 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, while 20 members of the group licked the old fashioned way (with human tongues) and averaged 252 licks. A doctorate student from the University of Michigan said his licking machine needed 411 licks. Some junior high kids from Swarthmore School averaged 144 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop using human lickers. Bellarmine University in Louisville went super technical and broke their licking results down by gender, color of the pop, and time taken. On average, they found that it took people 175 licks over the course of 14.1 minutes. And mathematicians at New York University calculated the licks needed to dissolve one centimeter of hard candy and came up with 1,000. So, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop? The answer is somewhere between 144 and 1,000 licks.

How old is the Tootsie Pop commercial? 

The Tootsie Pop commercial was conceived by the Detroit-based Doner marketing group in 1968. The commercial rolled out across the U.S. in late 1969 and 1970. It was so popular that it keeps coming back. The original commercial was 60 seconds long and featured that little kid asking multiple animals, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” He first asks Mr. Cow, who sends him to Mr. Fox, who sends him to Mr. Turtle, who sends him to Mr. Owl. The commercial was later cut to 30 and 15 second versions; with the longer version featuring the Mr. Turtle and Mr. Owl and the shorter version starring just that jerk, Mr. Owl. 

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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