Because the eternal Tootsie Pop question plagues even scientists, a team of researchers from NYU and Florida State University set out to discover how many licks it really takes to conquer a lollipop. By studying water currents and candy, they were able to estimate it takes 1,000 licks -- which is significantly fewer than our childhood guess of "5 jillion."
The study, published in the sexy Journal of Fluid Mechanics, involved placing 2in pieces of handmade hard candy in a water tunnel with a controlled current. The scientists then used time-lapse photography to measure how the water flow affected dissolving. Based on the data, they were able to peg the number of licks required to finish a lollipop at 1,000. Though this stat is clearly the most important discovery to come out of the study -- and NYU labs in general -- the researchers also noted their findings could be relevant to geology, what with all those landscapes and erosion. If you're hungry for the full report, you can buy the "Shape dynamics and scaling laws for a body dissolving in fluid flow" PDF over here. Or you can contribute your own vital research by picking up a bag of Dum Dums right now.
Kristin Hunt is a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist, and would like to volunteer her services for all future candy studies. Follow her at @kristin_hunt.