After yesterday's post about Runts, myself along with a couple friends needed to know about the "real" Wonka candy factory! Is it really a thing? How did it come about? Who's responsible for this ingenious idea? Though I couldn't find any information directly from the source, there are a few sites that seem to know this information we are searching for... and if not, that's part of this project... selecting sources you probably trust, mostly, sort of, for your information.
The inspiration behind all of this wild Wonka goodness is Ronald Dahl and his book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, published in 1964. Mel Stuart, a film director, was convinced by his 10-year-old daughter (Madeline) a movie needed to be made. Madeline had read the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and asked her father to get "Uncle Dave" (producer David L. Wolper) to produce it.
Mel Stuart showed Dahl's book to Wolper, who was in talks with the Quaker Oats Company. Wolper convinced the Quaker Oats Company to sign a deal for up to $3 million to finance the film version of Dahl's book in exchange for the candy bar rights. Quaker had no previous experience in the film industry, but bought the rights to the book and financed the film for the purpose of promoting their new Wonka Bar. The name of the movie was renamed to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for promotional purposes, and is one of the most famous reverse product placements ever.
This meant the Wonka Bar, along with other Wonka candy, were about to become real. The new brand was produced in Illinois, by Chicago-based Breaker Confections (which was then owned by Sunmark Co., a subsidiary of Quaker). Unfortunately, the original Wonka Bars never saw store shelves due to factory production problems prior to the film's release in 1971.
Regardless of the initial snafu, Wonka product releases were highly successful. Breaker Confections changed its name into Willy Wonka Brands in 1980 in an attempt at developing its Wonka brand image. In 1988 Willy Wonka Brands was sold, along with parent company Sunmark, by Quaker to Nestlé. Nestlé renamed Willy Wonka Brands to Willy Wonka Candy Company in 1993.
A number of the Willy Wonka-branded products originated from Roald Dahl's book and later film adaptations (Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released 2005), while others were originally created or acquired for the brand. Some of the products included Everlasting Gobstoppers, Sweettarts, Laffy Taffy, Nerds, Kazoozles, Shockers, Bottle Caps, Gummies, Fun Dip, Spree, Runts, Pixy Stix, MixUps and their world-famous Wonka Bars.
The Wonka confectionery brand was sold to the Ferrero Group in March 2018 along with Nestlés other US confectionery business for $2.8 billion.