“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
A silly tongue twister and question that has plagued man since… well, I guess since The Woodchuck Song came out in 1902. It was written by Robert Howard Davis. The question poses something as elusive as the riddle of the Sphinx.
How does the whole thing go?
The full version (which some may not know) of the tongue twister is:
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
And chuck as much as a woodchuck would
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.
So, what’s the answer?
Funny enough, several newspaper articles have actually been written in an attempt to answer the very question of how much wood a wood chuck could chuck. There are several answers, partly from understanding the actual question. Some see ‘chucking’ as the opposite of ‘upchucking’, which would mean consuming. Others see chucking as simply chewing on and not swallowing. That being said, the following research is provided:
In 1988 the Associated Press published a report by Richard Thomas, a New York fish and wildlife technician who went on to say a typical woodchuck borrow is 23-30 ft long. If a woodchuck is capable of moving the equivalent volume of wood, then it could move about “700 pounds on a good day, with the wind at his back.”
Another study by P.A. Peskevich and T.B. Sea from July-August 1995 – “The Ability of Woodchucks to Chuck Cellulose Fibers” states that “chuck” is the opposite of “upchucking” and determined that a woodchuck could ingest approximately 22 cubic inches of wood per day.
Far be it for me to argue with research.
What would your answer be?