You Sweet, Sweet, Evil Child Corruption Factories

It all comes back to the movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The first one, anyway. The new Timothy Chalamet one is just bad, and the tone of the Johnny Depp remake may have been closer to the original book, but it sucks next to the classic Gene Wilder 1980’s one. And that’s the problem. I want to visit that Chocolate Factory, the one that swallowed the German kid, the one that blew Veruca Salt up into gumball, the one with the family bed that slept twelve impoverished multi-generational British people. The one with the singing orange guys with the Super Mario fashion senses and the poorly choreographed dance moves. That movie was so freaking good that on some level I now think all actual chocolate factories must have rivers of milk chocolate, ever-lasting gobstobber assembly line machines and fizzy lifting drink rooms (which inexplicably have man-cutting ceiling fans — a poor design choice).

But the fact is, candy manufacturers aren’t wholesome fonts of goodness and mystery, they’re just another brand of evil corporation, hooking kids on sugar before they reach kindergarten with marketing strategies that would make the Nazis proud and enough money to encapsulate our children’s lives inside a colorfully frenetic world of hypnotic dancing happy images of their drug of choice always dangling all around them. And lately they’ve shifted into overdrive and have doubled down (and I do mean down) on their ad strategies.

Have you been to a convenience store lately? Reece’s are no longer confined to just “piecey” or ornate mini-cupcake form. They’ve morphed into rabbits and eggs and cigar-shaped bar forms, some of them are now filled with potato chips and M & Ms and other such culinary choices destined to give an entirely new generation teenage diabetes and award them hover-round futures and insulin dreams.

The impulse aisle has now become a windy impulse labyrinth. The lines are dotted with kid-eye-level candy in so many new varieties, but the same old growth-stunting goodness, that Willy Wonka would puke vomit rainbows of multi-hued peanut butter and bunny-shaped chocolates. It’d make George Washington Carver rethink the peanut and turn to cashew-based inventions. It’s sickening, literally AND metaphorically. And it’s everywhere.

You know, I really don’t think it’d be all that difficult to tweak it just a tad, so the stores still have the same ad strategy but with healthier choices. If all kids see are bananas and kiwis, they’ll still beg their mothers for treats, but they might not have to endure the weird shame of being an obese fifth-grader who coughs up Reece’s Pieces when he wars against the rope tuggers on the other side of the line.

At the very least, it’s worth a try.