Mathematicians Say They Finally Know How Many Licks It Takes To Get To The Center Of A Tootsie Pop

tootsiepopIf there was one math question I was interested in as a kid, it was the mystifying puzzle of exactly how many times you’d have to lick a Tootsie Pop to get to the Tootsie Roll center. But while I was fine letting someone else figure out that question, other children grew up and decided to actually answer it — or at least, arrive at an approximate answer.

Researchers from New York University say it takes about 1,000 licks to get to that candy center, though others in the past have counted licks numbering only in the hundreds, points out NPR’s Morning Edition.

The team of scientists arrived at that number by immersing a piece of hard candy in a water current, formulating a theory for how flows cause dissolving and shrinking. For Tootsie Pops, they calculated how long it took to make it through one centimeter of candy, which is about half the length of one Tootsie Pop, to arrive at the 1,000 number.

Not only did they calculate a number for Tootsie Pop licking, but the work could also help chemical and pharmaceutical industries as understanding how materials dissolve, because “their products rely on the incorporation of solid compounds into solutions within reactors and within the human body,” the researchers say.

No story about Tootsie Pops would be complete without this, of course: