August 17th, 2011

How Many Licks? I Know!

I'm sure you've seen at least one version of the Tootsie Pops commercial. You know, the one with the tagline, "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know."

The rest of the world may not know, but I have known for years.

It takes 615 licks to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.

How do I know this? Well that, as the late Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.

I discovered this little bit of information many, many years ago. I'm pretty certain it was on a Saturday, because I had seen that commercial at least once during my weekly ritual of Saturday morning cartoons. To be honest, that commercial really irritated the hell out of me. I think it was mainly because it asked what I thought was a legitimate question, and came up with a cheap shot punch line.

I think I had seen that commercial one time too many, and I decided that I wanted to know how many licks it really did take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. How many licks it really took, without biting.

Either there were already some Tootsie Pops around the house, or I went to the grocery store to get one. (Sorry, but I am a little fuzzy on some of the details.) I do remember that I armed myself with a grape Tootsie Pop, paper, and pen. I settled down where I would be undisturbed, unwrapped the Tootsie Pop, and I started licking.

With every lick, I made a tally mark on the paper. I didn't even think about keeping count, because I had a feeling that someone would probably try to distract me. I figured that it would be easier to count the marks after I finished my Tootsie Pop.

It took a while, but eventually, I finished licking off all of the hard candy surrounding the Tootsie Roll center. Once all the candy was gone, I finally bit into the yummy little nugget of Tootsie Roll, and thoroughly savored it.

After I finished the Tootsie Pop, I counted the tally marks. Counted them at least twice, if I'm not too terribly mistaken. And the number I came up with every time was 615.

I don't think I ever did anything like write the people at Tootsie Roll to tell them how many licks it took. I don't know if I've ever really shared it with anyone else until now.

But now you know. And the next time you see that commercial, you'll know that it takes 615 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. That, and a lot of patience.