Real talk for a second: What if everything you thought you knew about Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was wrong? A new Willy Wonka theory questions whether the Golden Tickets were actually given out at random like everyone was supposed to believe, and this definitely makes this childhood favorite a lot more sinister. Like most theories, this one started on Reddit. A user named Paulvs88 thought it was possible that Wonka had a plan for his Golden Tickets — specifically that the chocolatier made sure Charlie Bucket found the fifth and final ticket thanks to his secret spies.
Fans of the 1971 movie remember that Slugworth, who was originally said to be a rival of Wonka's, was actually a Wonka-approved spy hired to make sure no one was trying to sell his secrets. Slughworth even convinces everyone but Charlie to sell him Wonka's newest creation: the Everlasting Gobstopper. Knowing all this, what stops Wonka from hiring other spies to help him find the right kid to run his chocolate factory? Nothing, honestly. And that makes Wonka a bit creepy than he's already portrayed, because now it seems like he had it out for these other kids. After all, he already knew who he inevitably wanted to win.
This Redditor makes the case that Willy Wonka "intentionally fabricated the report” that the last Golden Ticket was found in Paraguay so that he could choose who would get the last ticket with help from someone familiar to fans of the movie. Wonka's alleged secret spy who helped Charlie find the Golden Ticket was none other than Bill, the candy shop owner. Notice also that Bill is just another form of William or Willy. Coincidence? This Redditor thinks not. And I agree it seems too on the nose not to be on purpose.
Now, if this seems far-fetched, don't worry: Paulvs88 has given some very plausible examples to how exactly this would have worked. When Charlie mysteriously finds some money on the ground and heads to Bill's candy shop, he first buys a different chocolate for himself before realizing he should get something for Grandpa Joe. It's actually the store's owner that suggests Charlie buy a traditional Wonka Bar and picks out one from the display, which Paulvs88 finds a little fishy:
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.
Now, perhaps Bill didn't know which kid he was going to give the bar to, but Charlie's selfless act did make him the perfect choice. After all, Wonka was looking for someone who was willing to dedicate his or her life to the factory and taking care of the Oompa Loompas. He needed someone selfless, who was willing to upend their life for this factory. Charlie was basically Wonka's only hope.
That, of course, puts a positive spin on this whole thing — that Wonka just wanted to help a local boy win the prize of a lifetime — but knowing that he had a horse in this race makes it feel like he was out to get those other kids. He didn't think they were worthy, so he was willing to watch them suffer. It does make sense why Wonka was so blasé when Augustus Gloop gets stuck in the chocolate river and when Violet Beauregarde turns into a human blueberry. He doesn't really care what happens to them because he doesn't really need them. All Wonka needs is Charlie, who is his Golden Ticket to moving on with his life. The worst thing that could happen is if Charlie lets him down, since he's put all his eggs in that basket.
As the Huffington Post also points out, this idea that Wonka was aware of who was going to get the tickets jibes with another theory that Wonka's tickets were not handed out at random, but were chosen by four other candy shop owners. Giving some credence to this theory is the fact that Slugworth seems to mysteriously show up to speak to all the Golden Ticket winners, meaning he may have had some intel on who was going to open them. And, yes, may mean Wonka was a bit of a stalker and that candy shop owners may not be as delightful as we all hoped.
So was Charlie chosen at random? Maybe not. But he was certainly the best kid for the job, and that's the honest truth.