If you don't want to ask an owl, perhaps this Ask-a-Hoss site would
"During the 2nd semester of an engineering class at Purdue University,
they reported that their 'licking machine,' modeled after a human
tongue, took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a
Tootsie-Pop. Then they tried to test 20 volunteers and found that it
took the volunteers and average of 252 licks. And then a chemical
engineering doctorate student from the University of Michigan recorded
that his licking machine required an average of 411 licks per Tootsie
Pop. Soon after that, a group of students at Swathmore School used
human lickers in a scientific experiment and determined it took an
average of 144 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. So there
are the results taken from the only 'official' Tootsie Pop licking
experiments. The problem we have is the distance of difference that
was encountered in our studies. But this is the reason for the major
difference in the higher and lower number.......you MUST remember the
overall surface area of everyone's tongue IS NOT the same and the
density of the papilla(taste buds) IS NOT the same in every person,
thus resulting in the difference in the number of licks!"
It is worth noting that a recent program I saw on Food Network cited
the Purdue figure of 252 licks. Papa always told me "If you see it on
Food Network it's so."
Now for a bit of anecdotal evidence. Many decades ago, when I was a
lazy government employee and had nothing better to do, I sat in my
office and, while grading aptitude tests and preparing reports on
same, I lapped more or less constantly at Tootsie Pops. Being a
record-keeping fool, I actually compiled my own statistics on the
licking-to-center data. Unfortunately, my records (along with my hoard
of Tootsie Pops) were destroyed in an office fire (I am not making
My personal Tootsie-testing binge resulted in numbers that were mostly
in the vicinity of 300 licks. It varied widely, though. Some Tootsie
Pops flavors are tougher than others. I generally got the most licks
in when working on an orange pop. Brown ones required the least amount
of lickage, as I recall. Had I continued in my boring government job,
I would probably have codified all this data, and could rank Tootsie
Pops' lickability indices by color, expiration date, and geographical
origin. As it is, all I have is a vivid memory of myself as a human
analogue of the Rolling Stones' logo. ;-)
"The Encyclopedia of Pointless" provides an amusing series of riffs on
the subject "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a
Tootsie Roll Pop?"
Some of my favorites--
"Yoda: Licks. Ha! The center. Ha! A Jedi craves not these things.
Bill Clinton: It depends on what you meant by 'does'.
Michael Crichton: My next book is going to be about people
contemplating the ecological ramifications of tootsie roll pops while
fighting space demons."
The Encyclopedia of Pointless
Google Web Search: "tootsie" + "pop" + "how many licks"
Thanks for a neat question. I haven't had this much fun on GA since I
answered a question entitled "What Color is Penguin Poop?"