A fellow writer’s friendly comment on this blog triggered a peculiar sequence of events: “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop?” I’m familiar with the well known lollipop but the question is new to me. I grew up in Brussels eating Chocotoff, the Belgian take on chocolate candy. All gooey and soft: biting is a messy business best avoided. I’m tickled to find out what it’s all about. According to Wikipedia the quest started with a TV commercial in the 1970s and always ended the same way: anxious to get to the yummy chocolate Tootsie roll in the middle, people would rush, lick it three times, and bite it. A few years later, the next generation tackled the challenge and discovered that it could take anywhere between 150 and 800 licks depending on the size of your tongue, the amount of saliva, and the color of the wrapping.
Biter or licker? I picture my grandmother (she immigrated to the US in 1923; I never met her) as a pioneer and a biter. My mother, who’s eaten her fair share of hard candy, has never revealed whether she took the slow or fast lane to her sugar fix. Her sweet tooth is famous in our family but is it one that cracks through the nonsense or one that holds back? No one knows. My daughter ‘sips’ her ice cream carefully so I have no doubt she would choose the slow route. I contact my niece who replies that it all depends: on her mood, on the weather, on the flavor of the lollipop (I’m not so sure she’s kidding anymore).
Further surfing the Internet I stumble upon a deliciously pink site: www.bakerella.com. Its creator, a complete non cook who signed up for a cake decorating class and blogs about her baking attempts, has invented the cake and cupcake pops, fun mini versions of their classic parents. Her darling delicacies have appeared on the Martha Stewart show and are featured in national magazines. The www.blog.evite.com link on Bakerella’s press page takes me back where I started: “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a cake pop?”
Do people actually care?! I don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that licking a lollipop takes longer than biting into it. The same goes for ice cream and Lifesavers. So what’s the fuss all about? If the color of a Tootsie pop wrapping can influence its life expectancy, I can safely assume that I’m not dealing with hard science. I’m in for a treat: I’m stepping on new grounds. This is art territory; the art of having fun; the mastery of enjoying life as it is whether I choose to take my time or rush. The speed itself is irrelevant; what matters is that I’m being silly enough to play along. The fun factor is not related to the time component, it relies on my readiness to grasp the moment and run with it. Licker or biter? I do not give a bonbon! Today I’ll happily crack to the center of the first lollipop I can find. Tomorrow I’ll choose to relish the sweetness 758 times over, or not. Lick or bite? That is NOT the question. The real question is this: are you having fun yet?