How Many Licks to the Center of a Lollipop? The Answer, Revealed
You know the old commercial: How many times would you have to lick a lollipop in order to reach the coveted center of a Tootsie Pop? One, two, (crunch) three? Although it ended with the wistful assertion that “the world may never know,” science has finally provided an answer: about 1,000.
Cleverly avoiding the vexing issue of the premature bite, researchers at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Florida State University immersed hard candy in a water current, formulated a theory for how flows cause dissolving and shrinking, and made a few calculations to come up with their lollipop-lick estimate.
The study, which appears in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, also has relevance in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, which rely on information about how solid materials dissolve, and geology, where erosion is key to the shaping of landscapes and landforms.
But the study’s findings may be most important to small children and clever, candy-loving owls everywhere. Crunch.