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This Theory Will Change How You See 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory'

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, circa 1971.
Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, circa 1971.
Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, circa 1971.
Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka and Peter Ostrum as Charlie Bucket, circa 1971.

Just when you thought you knew everything about a classic movie, someone comes along and opens you up to a world of pure imagination.

A new fan theory about “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” suggests that the golden tickets in the movie weren’t handed out at random, as we thought. The theory suggests Charlie was given the fifth golden ticket on purpose, and a few small details from the film may prove it.

The theory comes from Reddit user paulvs88, who posits Wonka “intentionally fabricated the report” that a fifth golden ticket had been found in Paraguay:

Why? He wanted somebody to find the last ticket the pure way, not just as part of the contest to win the lifetime supply of chocolate. He also wanted somebody local for many reasons. It would be much more likely for a child to be able to stay and move his entire family into the factory if he/she was local. Also if the last kid was local there would be no logistics of getting him/her to the factory because the event was just a day away.

But here’s the crazy part. The Redditor surmises that to pull this off, Wonka secretly had someone working for him: Bill, the guy running the candy shop.

Remember, Willy Wonka did already have one person working for him as a double agent. The guy we thought was Slugworth is revealed to be Wonka’s employee at the end. The Redditor says Bill, whose name is oddly another version of William or Willy, is a one of Wonka’s employees, too.

Prepare to have your childhood rocked:

We know [Wonka] employs humans as double agents. Bill gives the kids candy and sells it as well. He reports to Wonka about everything. Wonka instructs Bill to give the last ticket to a local kid, a poor kid, an unselfish kid. Bill probably already knows these things about Charlie but just need to confirm them. When Charlie comes in with his found money Bill offers him a Slugworth or a Wonka. Charlie says “whichever is biggest”. So he gets the Wonka. Then as Charlie is walking out he says to Bill “I also want to get one for my Grandpa Joe”...that is the clincher. Bill HAS to give the ticket today because the event is tomorrow. Charlie NEVER gets to choose what candy to buy grandpa Joe. Bill says ‘here, try a traditional Wonka bar this time’ and grabs one. He doesn’t grab one from the stack as an owner would, he takes the display one and hands it to Charlie. He knew exactly which one had the ticket. It was displayed right out front but behind the counter so it could only be retrieved by him.

Whoa. Plot twist.

The Redditor is correct about events in the film. The candy is not chosen by Charlie. Bill picks it out from the display behind him and hands it over.

As the Redditor told HuffPost, “I saw the movie a few times recently and realized that Wonka employs Slugworth, and if Wonka did have another agent, he probably would be the candy shop owner in town. I just started thinking about it and it seemed to all fall into place.”

As further evidence, thrown in by us, Bill opens the movie by singing a song about Willy Wonka ― so he does really like that guy.

Not everything about the idea is perfect. The original post starts out by stating that the reporter in Paraguay who read the false report about a fifth ticket being found was secretly Wonka himself. But unless there was some serious makeup involved, it doesn’t seem that role was played by Wonka actor Gene Wilder.

Excluding that detail, though, the overall theory is pretty sweet. Just like all that candy.

It also works with another “Chocolate Factory” theory that suggests Wonka had Bill and four other candy shop owners pick who got the tickets. After all, the guy we think is Slugworth (who, again, secretly works for Wonka) does seem to magically show up wherever a ticket is found. This suggests Wonka knows where they’re going to be discovered.

That does seem to defy explanation ...

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