Sunday, January 19, 2003

A Blog from Willy Wonka

Saturn in Retrograde is pleased to post the following open letter from none other than candy maker extraordinaire, Willy Wonka. The letter is addressed to certain public health officials in England.

My Dear Good Sirs,

I read in this morning's dispatch that many public health officials are concerned about the growing size of chocolate bars. These officials are rightly concerned with the increase in obesity and its corresponding effect on health. All well and good.

But then comes an accusation that I wouldn't even make against my worst enemy, Mr. Slugworth:

Nutritionists claim that some manufacturers deliberately lure children and low-income families into buying fatty, sugary and high-salt foods by heavily promoting cheaply priced, king-sized products.
My protege, Mr. Charlie Bucket, takes great offense at this. Having once been poor himself, Charlie found that being able to buy a larger candy bar at a reduced price was a boon, not a curse. Why? Because one does not need to eat the entire bar at one sitting. The Oompa Loompas have composed an entire opera on just this point. Moreover, such a bar can be shared with say, Grandpa Joe or Grandma Georgina.

I do hope that public health officials will not take issue with my Everlasting Gobstopper, which is designed for children with very little pocket money. Lest I be blamed for ruining the dental health of poor children, let me remind everyone that just because the Everlasting Gobstopper never gets any smaller is not reason to keep one in your mouth all of the time. The Oompa Loompa song about gum chewing drives this point home.

Equally puzzling is this passage:

Children were the least likely to understand the risks of buying king-sized chocolate bars or soft drinks.
I have some expertise regarding how children understand risk, so my response is: no kidding. Who should understand the risks?--
What do you get when your kid is a brat,
Spoiled and pampered like a Siamese cat?
Blaming the child is a lie and a shame,
You know exactly who's to blame--
The Mother and the Father.
As to obesity:

The same research showed that one king-sized chocolate bar would make up 30 per cent of a nine-year-old's daily fat intake--creating a "substantial problem" of over-eating for children.
Again, I have some expertise here. I once knew a lad who tried to drink my chocolate river and just might have had there not been some slight unpleasantness involving him, a pipe, and Bernoulli's Principle. My point? Obesity is a problem regarding the entirety of one's eating habits, not just the eating of a large candy bar. Augustus Gloop ate everything in sight, candy or not. And that was his downfall (or in this case, his upfall).


Later this month, the Health minister Hazel Blears is expected to open another conference where experts will add to calls for tighter controls of food advertising, particularly targeting young people.
Stop. No. Don't.

Good Day Sirs,
Willy Wonka

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