In 1969, Tootsie Roll Industries aired its famous animated television commercial featuring a boy asking various animals how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. The commercial was produced by Murakami-Wolf, and animated by Vincent Davis. A shortened version of this commercial still airs on television today, making it one of the longest running commercials of all time
While the original commercial is 60 seconds long, an edited 30-second version and 15 second version of this commercial are the ones that have aired innumerable times over the years.
According to the official Tootsie Roll website, over 50,000 children have written in since the launching of the commercial in 1970, claiming they know how many licks it takes. Their responses have ranged from 100 to 5,800.
Three independent research studies have been carried out to determine the answer. Engineering students at Purdue University devised a "licking machine" that showed an average of 364 licks are needed to get to the center. Using 20 human volunteers, the figure was 252. A doctoral student at the University of Michigan created another licking machine and came up with an average of 411 licks.
After the commercial, Mr. Owl became the mascot for Tootsie Roll Pops, appearing in marketing campaigns and on the packaging.