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How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? According to Jinzi Huang, co-author of a recently published study that examines how "hard candy bodies dissolve in laminar high-speed water flows," approximately 2,500.


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Stephan Zielinski

There's no mention of candy in the abstract, and the paper is paywalled. The press release at NYU, Not Candy Crush — Scientists Identify Nature of Candy Sculpture, claims not 2500, but 1000:

The authors were also surprised to find that their work offers a long-sought answer to a question from childhood: How many licks does it take to reach the center of a lollipop? By formulating a theory for how flows cause dissolving and shrinking, the researchers calculated an estimate of about 1,000 licks.

Which is consistent with empirical work described at Getting to the Center of a Tootsie Roll Pop® (PDF), which reported answers in the range of 535 to 1200.

Now, the New York Post claims the relevant number is 1000 licks per centimeter, then bungles the difference between radius and diameter and so extrapolates to 2500 to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. But it's the New York Post; you shouldn't expect them to get things even remotely close to correct.