Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The A to Z of Fiction to Reality: Wonka

When I was a kid, there might have been no kind of candy I ever wanted more than I wanted a Wonka chocolate bar. Of course, there's nothing that could have tasted as good as I imagined a Wonka Bar should taste. It's probably a good thing I never got one. I would have been so incredibly disappointed.

My desire for a Wonka Bar had nothing to do with Roald Dahl's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and everything to do with the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

I loved that movie while I was growing up, and I still love it today. Just to be clear, I'm talking about the 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder, not the horrible Burton thing from 2005.

Before I get onto the point of all of this, here is one of the reasons I love that film so much:
Imagination, really, is what is driving this series of posts. The imagination of writers to come up with the ideas that they do, and the imaginations of the people that have made those ideas into reality. The imagination to see it become real.
And, again, being kind of stuck on the whole imagination thing, it's why the underlying theme of The House on the Corner is imagination. Being able to say "what if" and, then, go towards that.


When I was a kid, I didn't know there was a book that the movie came from. In fact, I was an adult before I knew there was a book. And it was only within the last few years that I read the book (and, unfortunately, I didn't like the book (which I talked about here). But that's all beside the point.

The point is somewhere in here:

I discovered that Gobstoppers were a real candy sometime when I was in high school. Those and Nerds, which are also a Wonka candy (although they aren't in the movie or the book). Gobstoppers became just about my favorite candy, and I still (in theory) love them (in theory, because I've been pretty much off of sugar for about 4 years, so I don't eat them (I do, still, love the idea of them, though)). I thought (and wondered why) they were just coming out with Wonka candy in '80s. But it wasn't that it was just coming out, it just took it that long to get to Louisiana, evidently.

See, The Willy Wonka Candy Company started out in 1971 to coincide with the release of the movie (although, they are now owned by Nestle). What an amazing thing that a whole candy company sprang from the pages of a book! Even though I didn't care for Dahl's book, I love that his imagination brought a candy company to life (even if I am against sugar (sorry, as a culture, we just eat too much of it)). I'm going to imagine that Nestle has a room in their Wonka division like the one from the movie where everything is eatable.


  1. Because of the recent rise of Wonka in meme-land, I took a look at the Gene Wilder film again. Gosh, he is just such a perfect Wonka. The Oompa Loompas still make me pretty uncomfortable (I mean, what are they supposed to represent is this some kind of British imperialist paternalistic nonsense why are they orange are they actually happy or slaves??). Ahem. But that film is lovely.

    A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist

  2. Wilder was meant to play that role. Watched it all the time as a kid, whenever it was on TV. And read several of Dahl's books as a kid. Found them to be weird.

  3. My absolute favorite childhood movie. Still love it. And no, not the 2005 remake for me either. Blah.

    I thought at first your post was going to be about how they are inventing ways to transport chocolate bars by way of Wonka-vision, and that would have been awesome. It's the worst feeling ever to crave a chocolate bar and not have one in the house. It would be so great to just push a button and have one arrive via television. :P

    Yes, I am one of the American horde who eats too much sugar. Mmmm

  4. That movie will stick with you no matter when you see it. AT 3 or 31, it's in there! :)

  5. The 70s version of that movie always creeped me out. The 2005 version was just so flat. Wonka candies were always the kind that if I got them for Halloween I'd try to trade them. Just give me Reese's peanut butter cups. Or Mallo Cups.

  6. I have to confess that I've never seen the 1971 Gene Wilder version. *gasp* I know. But there you have it. I've never seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang either. I think I was deprived as a child.

  7. I have to admit, I don't like the movie. It always creeped me out as a kid. I love the book though, which I read before I was really old enough to understand, and many times since. Guess our taste is switched on this one. But I do think imagination is the most important thing in the world.

  8. I thought both versions of the movie were okay, with the 70s version being better. But I read the books -- the sequel, "Great Glass Elevator," I remember as being kind of weird -- and his other books, too. I liked Dahl, but I've heard some stuff since then that makes me shake my head and wonder where to draw the line at who we like and don't like. As for the Wonka bars, I always wanted those Fizzy Lifting Drinks: But I suppose that wouldn't fit your theme, as they still don't exist. Also, I'm sorry if this comment is spaced weird but my computer is having some kind of snit about things like spacing and paragraphs. I'm going to go wrestle it into submission.

  9. In all fairness, Roald Dahl remains one of my top five all-time scribes. His adult-aimed work was nothing short of demented genius. However, that said, Gene Wilder is a man of the ages. That movie shaped my childhood. And my dentist bill.

  10. I loved that movie. Saw both and much preferred Wilder's. I, too, learned about the book as an adult and have read it a couple of times. The scene in the clip was wonderful. It reminds me of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy lands and everything is suddenly in color, and Alice in Wonderland. Imagination is Wonderful!

  11. I did not know that about the candy company being formed to support the movie. Wow. I loved the 71 version too. My wife however, thinks it's the worst thing every filmed for a mass audience. I've asked her why repeatedly, and I think she feels the way the bratty children are disposed of is inhumane and cruel.

    It's weird for me, because I generally don't find her to be overly sensitive to things like that in a kids movie, but she really, really dislikes the old version for that reason.

  12. Elizabeth: Is Wonka in meme-land? I tend to not really pay attention to memes, so I haven't seen that. (I do think the Oompas are supposed to be happy.)

    Alex: I don't think there could have been a better Wonka.
    I've only read the Charlie books, and they were both weird. I don't have a problem with weird. It's just they seemed to be rather pointless weird.

    L.G.: Well... there have been some major advances in teleportation. On the sub-atomic level.

    Libby: It's great! Thanks for stopping by!

    Grumpy: I think I had a Mallo Cup once. I think the fact that I had one is why I only had one once.

    Julie: Oh, well, you should go fix that! Right now!
    And thanks for dropping in!

    S.L.: Maybe if I'd read them as a kid...?

    Briane: I hope you won in the contest against your computer! Now, I want to know what you've heard about Dahl...

    ABftS: Adult aimed? He had adult stuff? I'm gonna have to go look.
    Gene Wilder's awesome.

    Donna: That's probably my favorite bit in the movie; although... I do really love the part on the boat, too.

    Rusty: Well... I do think the children fair better in the Wilder version than in the Depp version. They do get back to normal in the first one, after all.

  13. I never really read Dahl, except one weird book that I still haven't tracked down, because I have no idea what it was. Gene Wilder was phenomenal. As much as I love Depp, Wilder wins this one.

  14. I think I had the exact opposite childhood from you! My mom was a reader and, therefore, both my brother and I are readers. When we were moving around Army bases when I was a child, my mom would take me to the library every day, all day, where I systematically went through every book they had in the children's section.

    The thing I loved most about Dahl's book was his description of the chocolate river. You don't get that from the movie. In the book, Charlie is given a cupful of chocolate and it the warmest, purest, most nourishing thing he has ever had in his life. I've dreamed about having a cup of chocolate like that ever since.

  15. RG: You need to have someone make you an Aztec style hot chocolate. Starbucks used to offer them, like, maybe, 15 years ago. It's very thick, almost like drinking melted chocolate. It didn't go over well, though; I think I was the only person that really liked it, evidently.