We have all grown up with that funny little owl cartoon licking the Tootsie Pop and straight up biting it after 3 licks. Well, I started wondering, "Just how many licks does it take?"

So, I googled it like all curious people do, and what I found was uncertain information. The Tootsie Brand has a webpage of where three different schools conducted an experiment: Purdue University got an average of 364 licks from using a machine designed to mimic a human lick, and an average of 252 licks from actual humans, University of Michigan also used a licking machine and gathered an average of 411 licks, and lastly, Swarthmore Junior High School found an average of 144 human licks to be the answer. Tootsie claims there is no definite answer.

I can't just accept the fact that the biggest mystery in the world doesn't have an answer after who knows how many years. So I braced myself for a time-consuming project that would end with a colorful tongue.


1. Must use regular-sized Tootsie Pops (no miniatures!).

2. Must record number of licks truthfully.

3. Must be the only one recording licks in this experiment.

4. Must be able to see the center piece.


I'm calling this the "pre-round" because the very first Tootsie Pop I tried had no Tootsie Roll center! Luckily, I had more than one sucker with a cherry flavor. I licked the Tootsie Pop until the end since there was no center, and the total ended up being 910 licks with two bites (I just wanted to finish it by that point).

My dad also helped me "research" the answer. I wasn't breaking any rules by this—I simply used him as a guide, to see how long it might take and an approximate number of licks. It took him 500 licks to be able to touch the center, but took him 930 licks to get halfway through the stick of his grape tootsie pop.

1st Round: Cherry         

candy, sweet
Katie Zizmor

The very first Tootsie Pop I decided to try was cherry. Thankfully, this one had a Tootsie Roll in the middle. The flavor was great, you know, for being artificial and everything. It took me about 480 licks to get to the center. And as a result, I got some really red teeth and a bright red tongue.

2nd Round: Orange  

candy, sweet, lollipop
Griffith Hill

I grabbed an orange Tootsie Pop after that. The taste for this one was awful—it tasted like the worst possible fruit-flavored cough syrup. Anyway, I could taste the Tootsie Roll in the sucker at 300 licks, but I couldn't actually see the center until 454 licks.  

3rd Round: Chocolate

coffee, chocolate, sweet, milk
Griffith Hill

The chocolate Tootsie Pop was very interesting. When I first tasted the Tootsie Pop, it was nasty, but as I went on, it was pretty good. I don't know exactly when I started tasting the Tootsie Roll center—I think because of the chocolate in the tootsie roll, but I'm not exactly sure.

I believe saw the tootsie roll center at 575 licks. I think this one took more licks because of the actual chocolate in the tootsie pop.   

4th Round: Raspberry

chocolate, cherry, candy, cake
Griffith Hill

This had to have been my favorite flavor out of all five. I had the entire Tootsie Pop and ate the Tootsie Roll after I was finished. The Tootsie Roll center started peeking out at 469 licks, and that was also when I could taste it. The Tootsie Roll was able to be picked out of the tootsie pop at 540 licks though.  

5th Round: Grape

cake, chocolate, candy
Katie Zizmor

The fifth and final Tootsie Pop was the grape one. The flavor was okay, but not great. The center started peeping out at 420 licks, but the taste wasn't noticeable until 480. That's about it for that one: nothing special.

Overall Thoughts 

chocolate, candy, sweet, goody, cake
Griffith Hill

This was a very time-consuming, but a fun project. The approximate number of licks to get the center of the Tootsie Pop is 480 licks. I got this answer by finding the average, so I added the total number of licks from each flavor and added them all together, then I divided the sum of that by 5 and got my answer (2398/5=479.6).

I know, I know, I said I would give you an exact answer, but I kind of did: between all the different flavors, there are different ingredients, which means each one is not created equally. But, I did solve the mystery—try it yourself to prove me right.