A: No thanks to that animated owl and his woeful lack of willpower, this question has plagued the American public ever since the commercial first aired in 1970. Fortunately, there have been plenty of noble efforts to get to the bottom (or center, as the case may be) of it all.
Unfortunately, the answer depends on who you ask. A group of students at Swarthmore Junior High conducted an extensive study on the subject and concluded that getting to the center of a Tootsie Pop took a statistical average of 144 licks. However, the more ambitious and distrusting engineering students at Purdue University chose instead to rely on a “licking machine” modeled after the human tongue for their results. The Boilermakers found it took an average of 364 licks. And while other studies have been done, all the results vary. So in the end, only one thing is certain: The world may never know.