Photo Credit: Martin Handford
There are questions and then there are QUESTIONS! You know the ones, the questions you pondered as a child and now watch as a whole new generation discovers the fun that come with the search for those answers. We can't say we have all the answers, but we can share the origin stories behind some of the most iconic questions.
Photo Credit: Tootsie Pops
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
This particular conundrum first appeared in a 1969 Tootsie Pops commercial. The animated story had a boy posing the question to a wise Mr. Owl. The owl licks three times and bites into the Tootsie Pop declaring it takes three licks to get to the center. Not only was an iconic question born, but so was a mascot. Mr. Owl became synonymous with Tootsie Pops.
Now to the question, the 2015 edition of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics found 2,500 licks gets you to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Of course, they simulated licking with a consistent flow of water. A doctorate student at University of Michigan used a licking machine to find it takes 411 while Purdue University used their licking machine and hit the center in 364 licks. The final tagline, the world may never know is still probably the correct answer.
The only way to truly figure it out may be to try the challenge for yourself! But good luck not biting into it.
Photo Credit: Martin Handford
First, you must ask who is Waldo? Waldo didn't even start off as Waldo at all. British illustrator, Martin Handford was looking for a way to get people to focus on his drawings of large crowds. A teacher suggested creating a focal point. He did and "Where is Wally?" was created. That's right, he is known as Wally in the UK and Waldo in both the US and Canada. France has Charlie, Germany-Walter, Turkey-Ali and Israel calls the red and white shirt wearing guy, Efi. The classic illustrated book features two-page crowd scenes with between 3,000 to 4,000 tiny characters.
There He Is
For those willing to search the internet, It's now become incredibly easy to locate Waldo. In February 2015, researcher Randal S. Olson created a Where's Waldo? optimal search path. That path, which is created from an algorithm, shows you where Waldo is most likely to be found in each illustration. So much for the thrill of the search.
Photo Credit: Getty
How do you get to Sesame Street?
This is not only an iconic question but an even more iconic song. "Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street?" has been the theme song of the PBS children's show, Sesame Street since it first began airing in 1969. The mythical New-York based address 123 Sesame Street is the home and meeting place of many of the main characters. There is speculation the street is located in the Upper East Side based on landmarks seen in some episodes.
Getting To Sesame Street
The Sesame Street website has this answer: "You get there by going to Time Square, Manhattan, or anywhere you can pick up the local R train. Then hop on the subway and head east to Queens." In case you want to take a quick trip the next time you're in the big apple, New York named the intersection of 64th and Broadway "123 Sesame Street" in 2009 in honor of the show's 40th anniversary.
Photo Credit: Wendy's
Where's The Beef?
A cranky Clara Peller turned this simple question into an iconic cry in Wendy's 1984 commercial. "Where's the Beef?" referenced Wendy's catchphrase of the time.
In the commercial, two "grannies" admire a large fluffy bun while Peller turned her attention to the tiny burger patty and yelled, "Where's the Beef?" The line was claimed by pop culture, finding its way onto t-shirts and merchandise, even becoming the title of a promotional song "Where's The Beef" by Coyote McCloud. Walter Mondale used the line to slam presidential opponent Gary Hart's lack of substance during the Democratic primary.
Here It Is
After a hiatus, Wendy's revived the catchphrase by responding to its own question in 2011 with "Here's the Beef." The better story in all of this is that of the unlikely actress who played the cranky lady, Peller. The 4-foot-10-inch manicurist from Chicago was tapped for the commercial at the age of 80.
Photo Credit: CBS
Who Shot J.R.?
In 1980, the question of who shot the popular character on CBS's TV show Dallas became a summer phenomenon. What started as a simple marketing catchphrase turned into an obsession and gave birth to what is now a staple - the summer cliffhanger. The question referred to the mystery surrounding a murder attempt against the character J.R. Ewing in the show's third-season finale. The storyline jumped to the real world as everyone from SNL to presidential hopefuls jumped on the bandwagon. During the 1980 presidential campaign the Republicans distributed campaign buttons that claimed "A Democrat shot J.R.", while Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter joked he would have no problem financing his campaign if he knew who shot J.R.
Ultimately, the person who pulled the trigger was revealed to be J.R.'s sister-in-law and mistress, Kristin Shepherd. In this case, the answer was not as much fun as the guessing-game that filled one hot steamy summer. The effects of that shot though brought the idea of ending a television season on a cliffhanger into our pop culture, a trend that is still used heavily today.