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Mr. Owl was wrong.
In a classic animated commercial for Tootsie Pops, which first aired in 1969, a little boy famously poses a tough question: "How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?"
The inquiry stumps a cow, a fox and a turtle, but the aforementioned bird claims that the answer is three.
While the ad concludes that "the world may never know" the magic number, a new study published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics has arrived at an estimate.
Researchers at New York University and Florida State University have investigated the "complex process by which materials are shaped and ultimately dissolved by surrounding water currents," according to a pressrelease.
After developing a theory for how flowing water causes dissolving and shrinking, the scientists concluded that it takes about 1,000 licks to get to the center of an average lollipop.
And Tootsie Pops? Doctoral student Jinzi Huang told the New York Post that the number is closer to 2,500.
And just like that, the age-old question is solved.