How to Turn Willy Wonka into a Halloween Movie

October 24, 2010 – Technically, the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is not a Halloween movie. But it does share a commonality with the holiday. A huge one. Candy. Or, in the words of Garfield in his Halloween special, “Candy, candy, candy, candy, candy.” Marriages have lasted decades to a shared grave based on less.

Still, as amazing as Willy Wonka is, some part of me has always balked at watching it at Halloween. There are so many traditional Halloween movies I need to allot time for and so many new ones worth trying and such a limited window to do it all in that to watch a movie I could watch at any point in the year seems like a waste of the cinema slice of my Halloween pie chart.

But I think I’ve figured out a way to make Willy Wonka more of a Halloween tradition in my house. It involves—and the English language is about to fail me spectacularly, just watch—a candy drinking game. I don’t mean that you drink candy. There’s no drinking at all, in fact, except maybe water to clear the cloying sugar coating off your teeth and tongue. And just calling it a candy game isn’t very descriptive, either. If you can come up with a better term, let me know, so I can trademark it.

Basically, instead of taking a drink at various designated points in the movie, you take a hit of candy. Willy Wonka Candy. Willy Wonka Halloween Candy. Sure, no drunkenness happens, but sugar rushes do, and the next morning you’ll feel sick either way. And, in this case, those designated points are any time the word “chocolate” is spoken in the film. I know…this will end badly. Actually, you could probably turn this into a real drinking game using candy-flavored spirits or candy-themed cocktails. In fact, it’s probably the only good use for those drinks, other than communicating to the rest of the bar certain unsavory things about yourself.

Honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t done this before during one of the many non-Halloween times I’ve watched this movie over the course of my life. Heck, I should have done it every single time. Lord knows there’s enough Wonka brand candy out there. Of course, normally, I would hate the fact that a corporation is blatantly commodifying something as magical as the story of Willy Wonka, but in this case the people at Nestle’s Wonka division have come up with (or annexed in some cases) a unique line of candy worth the moniker. I mean there are a million hard candies and jawbreakers, but nothing like the everlasting gobstopper. Nerds? There aren’t even knock-off versions of these. They’re un-knock-off-able.

Of course, Halloween calls for Halloween-themed candy. In past years, Willy Wonka (the company) has unveiled a dentist’s nightmare of Halloween candy. I’ve seen purple Bumpy Warts (sold in a range of colors as Giant Chewy Nerds the rest of the year), Spooky Nerds Rope, Sweet Tarts Squeez Gooey Blood (cherry flavored gel that comes in a tube) and the green apple version called Sticky Snot, Laffy Taffy Ear Wax (banana-flavored Laffy Taffy), and Fungous Toe Nails (banana Runts). Unfortunately, this year I could only find their Monster Pack, which they release every year and is more for handing out to trick-or-treaters than hording for yourself.

But, for my purposes this candy mix will work. It features “Howling” Laffy Taffy, which has bats and Halloween jokes adorning its wrappers; Sweet Tarts Skulls and Bones, in which the usually disc-shaped Sweet Tarts are transmogrified into skull and bone shapes; and Spooky Nerds, in which they take their orange and white colors and throw them in boxes where the usual anthropomorphic nerds are wearing bat wings, witch hats, and ghost sheets. There’s no such things as black Nerds yet. Except for Lamar Latrell, of course.

Now, granted, Wonka chocolate bars would make more sense for the movie itself than hard candy, but I’ve never seen them in Halloween form. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had one. The candy bar market is nuclear cold war, and it’s hard to beat the superpowers.

Anyway, for the purposes of this game, each box of Nerds, packet of Sweet Tarts, or piece of Laffy Taffy would basically afford me two hits each. And, as I mentioned, “chocolate” was the secret word…except instead of screaming and waving our chair arms every time it’s mentioned, we’d be cracking fillings on dextrose, malic acid, and carnauba wax. Just like mom used to make.

So the night before last we dived into this little experiment. Actually, I dived in. I excused my wife from this particular Halloween experience because she had never seen Willy Wonka before and I wanted her to enjoy this movie and not be distracted neither by such ill-thought-through silliness nor colorful vomitus. So she just ate candy at her leisure and experienced for the first time the absolute wonder that is Gene Wilder and his Glorious Comb-Over.

So. Play. Scene. Images of chocolate being made. Terror. Go.

There has never been, nor will there ever be, a better idea for a children’s story than exploring a chocolate factory. Roald Dahl won that contest, so please stop sending in your entries. And Gene Wilder is amazing in the role of Willy Wonka, swinging believably between welcoming, enthusiastic host to just a candy coating away from killing all his guests in a fit of psychosis. In fact, believe it or not, legitimately imperiled children is a big part of why this children’s movie succeeds. In addition, the movie accomplished with ease something that every children’s movie attempts to, but few rarely do…conjure wonder instead of just contrive it.

Of course, I was having a little trouble appreciating it this time around. You see, in the end, “chocolate” ended up being said some 35 times. Could have been more. I’m pretty sure I sugar coma’d once or twice. I’m just glad I didn’t make “Wonka” the magic word. I’d be writing this dead and/or diabetic right now.

Anyway, 35 times meant 17 and a half of those candy packets. Fortunately, the use of the actual word “cholocate” was pretty well spaced out, somehow. The movie’s about an hour and 40 minutes long, so that averages out to one use every four minutes. Of course, sometimes the uses were stacked, so you could go ten minutes or so without it being used. The only place I found myself shoveling candy into my face in a panic was the beginning of the Augustus-Glump-in the-chocolate river scene (“The suspense is killing me…I hope it lasts.”).

So what do you get when you guzzle down sweets? Eating as much as an elephant eats? Absolute stomach ache. In fact, I’m probably never playing it again, so the title of this piece should really be How Not to Turn Willy Wonka into a Halloween Movie. I just hope that I don’t start psychologically linking the candy sickness I went through with the movie itself. The world of pure imagination might just never be the same for me.


Awesome. You, sir, are twisted. Well done.

I want to know what your wife thought of the movie!

Gene Wilder was a revelation for her. Pretty sure she wants to leave me for him now.

I could not have summed up that movie as beautifully as you described it. oh...and my stomach hurts just thinking about the game. But I go through a candy coma every Halloween because I bogart all the sweet tarts.

Although you couldn't figure out a name for your game, un-knock-off-able might be the best new word in a long time.

I can't say as I blame your wife (no offense to you, of course). He was one of my first crushes. So snarky!

Wonka Chocolate bars are amazing! If you find one, snatch it up. Hershey's still is the best but Wonka is a neck and neck second.

I came here to say that Wonka bars are the absolute worst chocolate on the market and you should avoid it, saw the last comment, and then laughed out loud. Cadbury, World's Finest and Gertrude Hawk. You want Chocolate, start with those.

I've totally had a crush on Gene Wilder for a long time. :D And only 17.5 packets of candy??? Weak! I think you should have done 35.

Sounds like a diabetes game.

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