Whether you were a fan of Roald Dahl’s books, the movies, or you just happened to pick up some Willy Wonka candy one day, it’s impossible not to know anything about this famous brand. With its wacky candy and creative treats, the Willy Wonka Candy Company has been around for as long as we can remember. But how much do you really know about it? Here are the Top 10 Untold Truths of Willy Wonka Candy Company.
10. Its Origins Lie In Fiction
The Willy Wonka brand started with Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the novel, the chocolate factory in question is owned by the eccentric Willy Wonka. It’s a story full of wonders and horrors alike. Bratty children get picked off for being too gluttonous or envious, while Charlie eventually wins a chocolate factory. The book was so popular that they made a movie in 1971. And that movie was so popular, they remade it in 2005, featuring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka himself. The movies have no doubt made lasting impressions in our culture today – everyone knows what an Oompa Loompa is – but one of the most long-lasting parts of the franchise are the products. The Wonka brand has grown beyond fiction and has become something that the everyday consumer can enjoy. While movie tie-ins are popular in the candy industry, no one has done it quite as well as the Wonka brand. So, how did this brand come to be? Well, the director of the 1971 movie, Mel Stuart, said that the Wonka brand was made real by producer David Wolper. Wolper apparently had contact with Quaker Oats, who told him that they wanted to make a candy bar based on the franchise. Eventually, they decided to take the deal, and that was the beginning of the famous Wonka brand.
9. Wonka Started Small
Originally, Wonka only offered two or three candies, but since David Wolper had an unbelievable ability to sell anything, the brand grew rapidly. At first, there was the Wonka chocolate bar that everyone knew so well and then the Everlasting Gobstoppers, which, in the film, were said to change colour and flavour and never get any smaller. They also advertised Oompa Loompa candies, which were peanut butter chocolate. After the first few years, the company started to expand its collection. This was when Nerds came to be – tiny, sugary candies, packaged in brightly colored boxes – as well as Pixie Stix, SweetTarts, and Wonka Fun Dip. Quaker also made it a point to sell other Wonka-brand merchandise, including a Wonka chocolate bar-making kit that could be ordered by mail. The kits are a common piece in collector circles, and they included moulds, stickers packaging, and chocolate bar ingredients. Children from the 70s had the opportunity to turn their own kitchens into the Wonka chocolate factory! We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a bit jealous. In 1988, the Willy Wonka brand was bought by Nestle, and today Wonka Nerds, Wonka Runts, Wonka Oompas, and Wonka Laffy Taffy are all part of the Nestle family.
8. The First Movie
In Pure Imagination, a novel written by Mel Stuart, the director of the first Willy Wonka film, the making of Willy Wonka is discussed and the author’s personal take on the morals of the story is provided. According to Stuart, the only reason he made the film in the first place was because of his 11-year-old daughter, Madeline. In the novel, he says that he never would’ve read something like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but his daughter liked it so much she asked him to make it into a movie. If it had not been for her, it never would’ve been made. Of course, his daughter didn’t know how difficult it was to get a feature film produced, but Stuart was willing to do anything for his daughter. So, he showed the book to a producer and friend of his, David L. Wolper, who, by chance, had a scheduled meeting with the Quaker Oats Company, which wanted a vehicle to introduce a new chocolate bar. In a passage of his book, Stuart remembers that Wolper never quite read the whole book. But, he notes that Wolper knew the story, and he told Quaker Oats, “I’ve got the perfect thing. It’s a movie about a man who has a chocolate factory and makes Wonka bars. Give me the money to make this picture.’” Well, how could they say no?
7. Willy Wonka Cocktail Bar
If you’re looking for a sugar high and live in Sydney, Australia you might be in luck! Candyland is a pop-up cocktail bar hosted at the Wonderland Bar. Candyland’s decor is based on Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, so if you’re craving a sweet treat, you know exactly where to go! You can get tickets – costing around $40 – for a 90-minute session in a bar built on fresh green grass. Oh, and don’t forget the rainbow lollipops and edible surprises around every corner. Just like in Willy Wonka, nearly everything is made out of candy, except for the Oompa Loompas. The 90-minute session allows you to explore Candyland, get your hands on a bunch of candy, and even create themed cocktails or fizzy lifting drinks! This place is pretty popular and has nearly 5 stars on explorehidden.com. The bar even hosts special parties, which you can buy tickets for online. While there was supposed to be a Candyland party in May 2021, but extenuating circumstances forced the venue to cancel. Aw, shucks! Candyland has promised to return in a big way, something that Sydney has never seen before! Well, we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes out for that.
6. Problematic Oompa Loompas
Unfortunately, there are a few inexcusable themes in this children’s novel. One of the most glaring issues are the Oompa Loompas. In the original illustrations for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the Oompa Loompas were drawn as offensive caricatures from Africa, and what’s worse is their story. In the novel, Willy Wonka claims that he found them deep in the jungle and that he brought them over to ‘work’ for him, and their only salary being cocoa beans. Yikes. When the book was first published in 1964, it was only met with acclaim and enthusiasm. It wasn’t until 1972, nearly a decade later, that a wide-ranging attack on the book was published by Eleanor Cameron, an American writer. Dahl wasn’t happy with this, and he and Cameron had many public back-and-forths in various American literary journals. Eventually, Dahl’s publishers decided that the Oompa Loompas weren’t appropriate, and so they released a revised version in which the Oompa Loompas became hippies with long golden-brown hair and rosy-white skin. When the first film was being made, these revisions hadn’t happened yet, and Stuart claims that multiple prominent black actors questioned having these characters working for a white boss. Stuart said he was already uncomfortable with the portrayal, so he decided to make the Oompa Loompas an unusual color; that’s how we got the orange-faced, green-haired workers for Wonka’s factory. Ultimately, we have to wonder: does changing their skin tone actually help to dismantle the harmful stereotypes Wonka’s workers were based on?
5. There Wasn’t Originally Going To Be Music
There is perhaps nothing more memorable than the music in the Willy Wonka movie, but did you know that the director didn’t actually want musical numbers in it? In his book, he states that he didn’t want songs because he was afraid the film would end up being like a Disney movie, and he didn’t like Disney movies. Eventually, he was convinced to include some songs, and he brought in the songwriting team of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. The two used Dahl’s first draft of the script to deliver hits such as “The Candy Man,” “Pure Imagination,” “I Want It Now,” “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” “Cheer Up Charlie,” and “Oompa-Loompa-Doompadee-Doo.” The songs were so popular that the duo earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Scoring, Adaptation, and Original Song Score! Because of the success of Willy Wonka’s musical numbers, Stuart concedes that he was wrong about including music. That being said, he’s glad that he didn’t make the whole thing a musical production because he says that would’ve taken away from the realism. Another little musical tidbit involves the music that opens up the factory. Wonka plays a little tune which is the overture to The Marriage of Figaro. Stuart says that he should have played Beethoven’s Fifth symphony, but when one of the characters says ‘Rachmaninoff,’ it would’ve been funny since most people think the composer was Rachmaninoff. Stuart states that this is one of his regrets about the film, but seeing as most of the viewers were children, we doubt it would’ve made a big difference.
4. The Golden Ticket Contest was Real
While we all loved it when little Charlie Bucket got his hands on the Golden Ticket, there was still a little part of us that wished it were real and we could have won it, too. Well, turns out we got our chance – back in 2005. The Willy Wonka Candy Company actually launched a search for the Golden Ticket as a contest tie-in to the 2005 film adaptation. Just like five lucky kids got a Golden Ticket in the film, five kids in real life had the chance to find one in their Wonka candies. As a prize for finding a ticket, kids got the chance to choose which prize they’d like to win based on the candy they enjoy. The Golden Ticket grand prizes included a Wonka Bar prize of $10,000 in cash, a Wonka Donutz prize of a European vacation, a SweetTarts Shockers prize of a private shopping spree, a Nerds or Nerds Rope prize which was to be “digitized” at a Los Angeles video animation studio, and a Sparkle Jerry Cherry Laffy Taffy prize of a trip to a fantasy sports camp. Aside from those grand prizes, contestants also had the chance to win one of 100 first prizes, an official Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie pack, including a T-shirt, calendar, poster, video game, soundtrack, book and board game, and a year’s supply of Wonka candy.
3. Success in Non-Chocolate Products
While most people associate Willy Wonka with chocolate, that’s not where this company found its most success. You might be surprised to find that the bulk of the company’s products, including their most successful ones, were of the non-chocolate variety. Some of these products include Fun Dip, Runts, Kazoozles, and Nerds! And, while many of their chocolate products have been canceled or discontinued, their non-chocolate products have continued to go strong. For example, both Laffy Taffy and Bottle Caps have consistently earned the company profits, outperforming their chocolate products. So, why have their chocolate products not gained as much success? Well, maybe it’s because of the competitive nature of the chocolate world or how difficult it is to make a chocolate bar imaginative or wacky. In any case, the sugar-based treats have reigned supreme for the Willy Wonka Candy Company. One of the brand’s most popular products is Nerds, now a part of the Ferrara Candy Company. These oddly shaped and colorful candies have won over the hearts of millions since their invention in the 80s. Another example is SweeTarts, which were invented after parents wanted a less messy treat. This sour and sweet candy was an important part of our childhoods and will continue to bring joy for years to come.
2. The Willy Wonka Candy Company Premium Confections
After years of creating one-of-a-kind candies for people of all ages, the Wonka Candy Company decided to release something a bit different in 2010. The Wonka Exceptionals line is advertised as a collection of delicious, decadent, imaginative, and whimsical chocolate and fruit-flavored premium confections. The new chocolates were developed with equal attention payed to the taste inside as the presentation on the outside, and it shows. The collection includes three varieties, each available in full-sized tablet bars and bags of individually wrapped minis. Firstly, the Wonka Scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate Bar is made with bits of scrumptious toffee pieces, crispy cookies, and crunchy peanuts wrapped in milk chocolate. Secondly, the Wonka Chocolate Waterfall Bar tempts the taste buds with a combination of creamy white chocolate swirled in milk chocolate. And finally, the Wonka Domed Dark Chocolate Bar is made of rich, velvety dark chocolate topped with smooth milk chocolate drops. Talk about variety! While many people associate Wonka with chocolate, Nestle decided to include fruit jellies in their new line, too. These are called Wonka Fruit Jellies and Wonka Fruit Marvels. The famous candy maker has created cheery, fruity morsels made with natural ingredients, no artificial colors, and 25 percent real fruit juice. They are perfect for an everyday indulgence or spontaneous gift-giving! Fruit Jellies are square, soft, and sugar-sprinkled and come in a box featuring WONKA’s familiar and vivid purple. Flavors include Grapefruit, Red Apple, and Goji Berry. The Fruit Marvels are hard candies with soft centers, delicately sugar-dusted. Clementine Orange, White Grape, and Pomegranate represent the delightful array of flavors that tantalize the palate. If you have a sweet tooth, these are for you!
1. Rebranded To The Nestle Candy Shop
In 2017, the internet went into a fit when the Nestle corporation changed its online branding. What used to be the Willy Wonka Candy Company became the Nestle Candy Shop. There was no more nostalgic purple logo but rather a sad, bubbly font that didn’t hold the same charm and whimsy. Of course, people were angry: where was the branding from their childhood? What had Nestle done to Willy Wonka? People took to social media, claiming that they’d never recover from this or that they were beyond angry. On top of that, because of the slow decline of Wonka sales, Nestle started focusing on their health-focused brands, such as Freshly or Sweet Earth. While customers were disappointed that their childhood brand was gone, it wasn’t all bad news. Once Nestle realized it no longer wanted to focus on selling candy, it sold all Willy Wonka Candy Company products to Ferrero, the company behind Nutella and Ferrero Rocher. Well, at least we can trust it’s in good hands!