Since the invention of the Tootsie Roll Pop, many men (and women and owls) have asked the question, "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?" Previous research seems to suggest that one can reach the center with three licks and a bite (ref: Mr. Owl), but this does not sufficiently answer the question. Ongoing research is being conducted, and preliminary results have been obtained, towards solving the problem.
The purpose of the research that is being conducted is to systematically determine how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
- 1 Tootsie Roll Pop
- 1 Person
- Unwrap the Tootsie Roll Pop
- Lick  side  of the Tootsie Roll Pop
- Rotate to other side of Tootsie Roll Pop
- Repeat from Step 1 until center is reached 
- Record results
|||A lick is when your tongue is run across the Tootsie Rolls Pop; sucking is strictly prohibitted in this experiment. The tongue need not, necessarily, be retracted into the mouth between individual licks, though it has been found to be more pleasant for the experimenter with frequent tongue retraction.|
|||Tootsie Roll Pops are shaped in a roughly saucer shape; the broader parts are being referred to as sides.|
|||The center is determined to have been reached when licking yields the texture of Tootsie Roll, flavor of Tootsie Roll and the discoloration of Tootsie Roll is visible with reference to the candy portion. This eliminates false positives as a result of bubbles in the candy, oddly textured regions and seeing chocolate through candy.|
|Trial #||Contributor||Trial Date||Color||# Of Licks||Trial Duration|
|3||George Waksman||2004-05-23||Dark Red||233|
|7||George Waksman||2004-05-24||Dark Red||585||9m|
|9||George Waksman||2004-05-29||Dark Red||610|
|11||George Waksman||2004-05-29||Dark Red||595|
|15||George Waksman||2006-07-13||Dark Red||378|
|17||George Waksman||2006-07-18||Dark Red||378||12m|
|19||Jared Coffman||1988-06-13||Dark Red||272|
|21||Brad Shilling||2008-05-05||Dark Red||689|
Since the obtained data represents the licking of both sides, the minimum number of licks for a given Tootsie Roll Pop is half (round up) the number of licks obtained in the trial
|Trial #||Total Licks||Minimum Licks|
The data suggests that it takes approximately 508 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop when alternating the licking side. Since the procedure calls for equal licking of both sides of the Tootsie Roll Pop and completion is determined by core contact on either side, one could reach the core with fewer licks by focusing on only one side of the Tootsie Roll Pop. If one were to select the side closer to the core, it would theoretically require approximately 254 licks to reach the center.
The data also suggests a substantial variability in the number of licks required to reach the center, with a standard deviation of 164 licks for two sided licking and 82 for single side licking.
The small number of trials makes for a very large standard deviation. The standard deviation is so large, in fact, that it is not reasonable to assume the conclusions are accurate.
More trials must be conducted to obtain more data points.
As other possible areas of research, one could look into the effects of tongue size, saliva production, tongue retraction and other variables on the number of licks necessary. The methods contained are easily adapted to further experimentation.
Outside Data Contributors
Outside data contributions are accepted and greatly appreciated as long as the outlined procedure is strictly adhered to. Contributions may be made by sending details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include number of licks, trial date, lollipop color and contributors full name as incomplete contributions can not be used (trial duration is optional). Please do not contribute poisoned data.
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