40 Years Later Charlie's Hiring Is Still Willy Wonka's Greatest Failure

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Forty years ago, an eccentric genius with an impressive business acumen and a brilliant handle on sweets engineered one of the most ludicrous publicity schemes of all-time. A Howard Hughes-esque recluse for a portion of his life, Willy Wonka zealously guarded both himself and his factory of secrets until one day, he decided to find himself an heir and get obscenely rich in the process. To accomplish both of these goals, he hid five golden tickets inside candy bars and watched as chocolate-stained fingers forked over tens of millions of dollars for a peek inside his world of pure imagination.

It doesn’t take a Harvard Law Professor to deduce this might not have been the best way to go about hiring a CEO. Then again, it doesn’t take a degree in economics to deduce this may have been the greatest money-making strategy in history. Rich factory owners converted their plants into candy-opening stations. Rumors of false ticket finds propelled the streets into near anarchy, and all the while, Wilder’s Wonka likely sat inside his castle, piling money next to a trampoline and rolling around inside it like some fabulously wealthy raccoon.

In the end, an almost destitute child proved victorious. With a crazy old grandfather on his arm and a belly full of dreams, Charlie Bucket took his triumphant elevator ride and plotted his future. Admittedly, it’s a nice little rags-to-riches story, but it’s time we forecasted a bit into the future. What the hell will his succession mean for the future of the candy conglomerate? Does Willy Wonka even care that Charlie Bucket doesn’t know a damn thing about running a global empire? He might try to teach him, sure, but there’s no telling whether any of that knowledge will stick. He should have looked harder at other options. He didn’t have to pick Charlie. In fact, I’d argue he shouldn’t have picked Charlie. Here’s an ordered list of who I would have given the factory to…

willy wonka

10) Mike Teavee

With an idiot box obsession and a propensity to try things without thinking through the consequences, Mike Teavee would likely run Wonka’s empire like that idiot who owns the shoe company on Parenthood. Plus, there’s no telling how small he’d willfully shrink himself if given unlimited access to that James Bond villain ray gun he miniaturized himself with the first time around. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but honestly, this mouth breather is hopeless. Apart from his eagerness to try new things which could result in a few unconventional products, I see no positives with passing the mantle on to Mike Teavee. He was bred to be a multi-divorced, low-level cog in a poorly run service industry department, and if promoted above his station, his cap guns would tarnish anything they fired at.

willy wonka

9) Veruca Salt

Veruca Salt is quite possibly the most selfish piece of shit ever mistakenly birthed. She stomps her feet more than a tap dancer, crosses her arms more than a bouncer and screams more than an unattended infant. She’s never held down a job, made real friends or filtered a comment in her life. If left to her own devices, she would absolutely implode Wonka’s operation faster than Mike Teavee, but she gets the nod ahead of that moron because I am 100% positive she would put the company in someone else’s hands. A busy princess like this can’t be bothered to run the show herself, at least not while there’s still people left to act like a cunt toward. I even contemplated putting her higher since no one’s ever taken down a Fortune 500 company while tanning, but I’m not sure what the situation is with corporate credit cards inside the Wonka factory. Something tells me Veruca’s incapable of knowing what counts as a work-related expense.

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8) Augustus Gloop

What do you get when you guzzle down sweets? Eating as much as an elephant eats? Your fat ass stuck in the chocolate shoot apparently. This pudgy preteen may lack common sense and social interaction skills, but he does know a tasty snack when he tries it. Let me ask you a question. Let’s say you want to go out to dinner and gorge yourself on ribs. You’ve been craving that succulent deliciousness for weeks, but you have no idea where to go. Friend one, a three hundred pound glutton who constantly obsesses over food, tells you he knows the best rib joint in town. Friend two, a one hundred twenty-three pound female who frequently raves about Wheat Thins, tells you she also knows a place. Who’s advice are you going to take? Obviously the fat dude’s. That’s the logic behind why Augustus ends up eighth. He has nothing practical to offer except his propensity to eat, but at this point on the list, we’re still choosing the less awful.

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7) Violet Beauregarde

I know like two facts about Violet Beauregarde. She chews gum, and she hates that bitch Cornelia Prinzmetel. The gum chewing doesn’t have any bearing on running a business, but the willingness to step on her opponent’s throat no matter what certainly does. You think this cutthroat would bat an eyelash at running Ma and Pa chocolate maker out of business? I doubt it. She’s like Wal-Mart’s business model condensed and jammed into a four foot three inch package. Besides, unlike Mike Teavee and Augustus Gloop, I’m pretty positive she’s not stupid enough to get hoisted by the same candy petard. If only she could direct that pent-up rage into progressive trade policies. I’m not hopeful, but I can imagine a world in which Violet could effectively run a business. Then again, I can also imagine one where she’s pulling some rival mother’s hair at her son’s U-10 soccer game. Go get her, Violet.

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6) Grandpa Joe

Bring up Grandpa Joe in casual conversation and you’re likely to hear someone say, “Ohh, that nice old man Charlie brought on the tour?” He’s definitely older than Abraham and he did go on the tour, but nice is categorically the wrong adjective to describe Grandpa Joe. History has somehow been rewritten to let this geezer off the hook. The fact of the matter is this blowhard laid in bed day and night for years while his family struggled to feed itself. Sure, he talked about removing his wrinkled and lazy ass from under those sheets, but when it came time to get a job, he sulked and laid back down next to the three other apathetic bums. Hopped up on adrenaline from the realization that his legs still worked, he made it through the tour, but there’s no telling the awfulness his body is going to feel the next morning. Plus, can you really count on this guy to outlive Willy Wonka? I’m not even confident he can live through the night.

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5) Charlie Bucket

Enthusiastic to learn and chock-full of morals, you could do a lot worse than Charlie Bucket, but let’s not kid ourselves and pretend he’s Warren Buffet. He has no experience in managing assets. The one time he actually had disposable income ( that he found on the ground), he immediately spent it on chocolate despite the fact that his family is Southern Reconstruction level poor. During the tour, he needlessly and with full knowledge of what he was doing, disobeyed an order from Willy Wonka after he saw what happened to the other kids, and don’t even get me started on his lack of schmoozing abilities. His only friend is his own grandfather who lazes in bed all day and his lack of assertiveness won’t get him anywhere dealing with investors. I’d pay him fifteen bucks to mow my grass, but I certainly would not hand him the keys to a business.

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4) Sam Beauregarde

I don’t trust this asshole at all. He’s slippery and kind of pathetic looking, but I do appreciate his gusto for shamelessly promoting himself. He turned his own daughter’s press conference into a free commercial, and he’s always eager to tell anyone listening he’s a local politician and prominent civic leader. Do I think he could handle the responsibilities of a dessert empire? Hell no, but he would at least give it a go. Everyone lower than Sam Beauregarde is comically inept. He’s just plain inept, which means with the right team of advisors and a bit of luck, he could do a below-average job. He’s the guy who gets promoted for a year or so until the powers that be decide it’s in everyone’s best interests to return him to his old job. He’s Michael Scott. Great salesman, below-meh boss. There’s other people I’d choose ahead of Sam, but none I’d more like to give a sitcom to.

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3) Henry Salt

Now, I know what you’re going to say. This douche bag can’t even manage his own daughter. Very true. He has no handle on that brat Veruca, but overseeing a business and overseeing a family are not mutually exclusive. How many rich and powerful men have daughters who marry lowlifes or sons who turn into drug addicts? He’s already the perfect example of that. His daughter owns four mink coats, and he turned his entire factory into an Easter Egg hunting station to please her. You know why he can do that? Because he owns and operates a successful business that’s clearly taking in hundred dollar bills hand over fist. Unless he inherited it from his father, which I don’t think is mentioned, Henry Salt started an operation from the ground up and built it into a well-oiled machine offering society some type of desirable good. I don’t care what percentage of his own salary he’d spend on buying his wife and daughter more useless shit. That’s his personal life. He can fuck that up all he wants. We’re taking this from a business standpoint, and I’d put my money on him a hell of a lot faster than I would these aforementioned clowns.

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2) The Oompa-Loompas

How long do Oompas live anyway? Are they on human years or dog years? And what’s the reproductive situation? There’s no female Oompas in the movie. Do they have a clear leader? I’m definitely not endorsing some sort of fucked-up communist arrangement here. All of these questions would need to be answered before I officially signed off on the Loompas, but I appreciate their work ethic and clear willingness to laugh at the misfortune of others. I also like that they toil endlessly in exchange for cocoa beans and move large objects in packs, a lot like ants. Plus, the transition of power would be almost completely seamless and guards could be posted on the doors to prevent against Vermicious Knid attack. Goddamn vermicious knids…

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1) Arthur Slugworth

As far as we know, Arthur Slugworth (real name Wilkinson) is Willy Wonka’s only human employee. He trusts him enough to test each of the children on whether or not they’ll sell the Everlasting Gobstopper secret, and the two seem to share a close and joyful relationship. Doesn’t it seem like this CEO job should have been his to lose? Am I missing something here? Is he mentally-disabled? Does he have lupus? Slugworth seems like the Tom Hagen of Willy Wonka’s world. I understand why you might not want him to rule forever, but he should be at least the transition guy between Wonka and his heir. After screwing him out of the job that’s rightfully his, Wonka should be worried about him selling the company’s secrets. Hey Arthur, you’re not getting my job, but I do need you to go test random twelve year olds to see how competent they would be. What a slap in the face.

Who do you think Willy Wonka should have given his empire to? Tell us in the poll below, and then, for vermicious knid’s sake, go watch Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

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Editor In Chief

Mack Rawden is the Editor-In-Chief of CinemaBlend. He first started working at the publication as a writer back in 2007 and has held various jobs at the site in the time since including Managing Editor, Pop Culture Editor and Staff Writer. He now splits his time between working on CinemaBlend’s user experience, helping to plan the site’s editorial direction and writing passionate articles about niche entertainment topics he’s into. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English (go Hoosiers!) and has been interviewed and quoted in a variety of publications including Digiday. Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.