Friends, while I did not originally see 1971’s masterpiece Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory when it was originally released to theaters. I did in fact have the pleasure of catching it at a local theater during a re-release (possibly a kiddie matinee) – probably around ’77 or ’78. I cannot help but feel I was the perfect age to witness that absolutely masterful performance by the late and great Gene Wilder – as I can perfectly recall having a mixture of delight as well as a little case of fear at his antics. Did you know though that also in 1971 there was a tie-in for the film being offered by Life, King Vitamin, and Cap’n Crunch cereals? A chance for kids and the young at heart to own Willy Wonka’s Candy Factory Kit?
That is correct, for a single dollar in addition to two proof of purchases from any of those cereal boxes I just mentioned – you could have gotten your hands on Willy Wonka’s Candy Factory Kit. Which was really just a set of molds that parents could help their children with to produce actual Wonka bars with provided wrappers that resemble those in the movie. To say nothing of creating chocolatey versions of Wonka himself and a Oompa Loompa, or Quaker Oat’s cereal mascots Quisp, King Vitamin and even Cap’n Crunch. Also offered for that mere 100 pennies were various Holiday-themed molds… but it doesn’t appear that Snozberries were offered for all of us music-maker and dreamers of dreams.
For what it’s worth and most of you probably already know this – Producer David L. Wolper was presented the book by Director Mel Stuart. You see, at the time Wolper was in communications with the Quaker Oats Company, trying to come up with something that would help them sell their new candy bar. As is evident by the 1971 film, he was able to convince the company to purchase the rights from Author Roald Dahl and finance the film adaptation itself – all to sell candy bars under the Wonka name!
As for Willy Wonka’s Candy Factory Kit, who else would be better to help promote not just the kit but the new film than breakfast cereals aimed at kids like Life, King Vitamin, and Cap’n Crunch? Who just so happened to be owned by the Quaker Oats Company. While it was obviously all done for the purpose of marketing it nevertheless brought about an exceptional film as well as this delightful TV commercial by Jay Ward Productions – of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame
Now then, you know about Willy Wonka’s Candy Factory Kit – so why not see it in action for yourself? No, I sadly do not own one of these vintage kits… yet… but you can watch this really amazing Youtube video by the Lucky Penny Shop – it’s over an hour long and besides making you crave chocolate treats it is very entertaining.