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If you have not read the book noted below, nor seen either of the two movies, take a few hours to fix that -- I suggest the cult classic 1971 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder as the protagonist candy man. (You can rent it online on Amazon for $2.99 or buy it for about twice that.) Fair warning: some plot points from the story follow below. -- Dan
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Miranda Piker and the Chocolate Factory
In 1964, Roald Dahl published his third book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The book is a tale of a poor child, Charlie Bucket, who lucks into (quite literally) a golden ticket, one which entitles him (and his Grandpa Jack) entry into Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory. Four other children also find golden tickets and join Charlie on the tour.
One by one, each child (other than Charlie) befalls an odd fate. The obese Augustus Gloop, unable to control his love of chocolate, falls into a river of chocolate and is sucked into a pipe -- to be made into fudge. Another, compulsive gum chewer Violet Beauregarde, turns into an ever-expanding human blueberry, filling with blueberry juice. A third, the bratty Veruca Salt, was systematically determined to be a "bad egg" (in the movie, literally) and sent off to the furnace. The fourth, television addict (and aptly named) Mike Teevee, shrinks himself in a television transportation device. All but Charlie avoid horrific accident. And all but Charlie are, on their way out, serenaded. Wonka's pygmy-like servants, the Oompa-Loompas, gleefully marked the occasion of the child's fall from grace with a song and dance.
Miranda Piker -- the straight-laced daughter of a school headmaster -- was child number six. Her story did not make the final version of the book. In Dahl's original draft, Wonka develops a candy which makes the child break out in spots -- a fake illness designed to get the child out of a day of school. Piker objects and she and her schoolmaster father storm the room in which the candy is being made. Something explodes and and Piker and her father, per Wonka, are turned into a necessary part of the recipe: “We’ve got to use one or two schoolmasters occasionally or it wouldn’t work."
Piker's story was cut as the book publishers believed it to be too gruesome for young audiences. But a few years ago, The Times (UK) obtained and printed the excerpt, replete with the Oompa-Loompa's song, which can be found here.
Bonus fact: The actor who played Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is named Peter Ostrum. It is Ostrum's only movie. He turned down the opportunity to reprise the role in the second book in the Charlie Bucket saga (and a third, which was never written.) Later in life, Ostrum became a large animal veterinarian, a profession he still practices today.
Related reading: Dahl's first book, The Gremlins (the book is unrelated to the 1984 movie Gremlins), is mostly unknown. Available for about $11, it has 4.5 stars on 12 Amazon reviews. Only one is negative ("lacks Dahl magic"). The book was originally commissioned by Walt Disney, as a promotional device for a full-length feature film. The movie was never made.
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