An Incomplete History of Willy Wonka

1964 Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc, because he is a genius. 


1970 Filming begins on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Munich. Director Mel Stuart became interested in adapting the book when his 10-year-old daughter shared it with him, and producer David L. Wolper gets Quaker Oats to fund the film as a means to promote a new chocolate bar (hence the name change from “Charlie” to “Willy Wonka”). The film is shot in Munich to create a sense of timeless fantasy to the story.

1971 The film is released, without much initial. Meanwhile, the chocolate bar which the film was intended to promote (a “Wonka” bar) melts on the shelves of grocery stores and cannot be sold.

1980s Replays on TV and VHS sales contribute to an increase in the film’s popularity, slowly and steadily over time.

1997 The film is released on DVD for the first time in a 25th Anniversary Edition.

2001 ABCFamily (now known as FreeForm because no one knows why) becomes a thing. Great news for more replays of Willy Wonka.

2002 Roo watches Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on VHS every day after school for four months. Not an exaggeration.

2005 Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is released in theatres. Burton set out to create an adaptation more faithful to the original book—which does not explain why the book’s plot was tweaked for this adaptation.

2013 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory premieres on the West End as a stage musical featuring songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, and a book by David Greig. It is slated to come to Broadway in 2017.

2016 Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie in Willy Wonka, is a vet in upstate New York.

Roo, who watched him play Charlie 300 times, is still obsessed, elsewhere in New York.