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11 Wonderful Words from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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Today is Roald Dahl Day, on which Dahl-ites everywhere celebrate the beloved author of James and the Giant Peach, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. While the former fighter pilot reportedly hated the 1971 movie version of perhaps his most famous book, we can’t help but love it and the wonderful words it gave us. Here are 11 especially Wonka-tastic words from the film and the stories behind them.


Oompa-Loompa, doopetee doo! We’ve got some wordy origins for you.

Oompa-Loompa is an example of reduplication, the repeating of syllables for a whimsical effect. While loompa is probably nonsensical, oompa might come from oompah, the sound of a brass instrument or a band of such instruments.

In the 1920s, "oompah, oompah, stick it up your jumper!" was a popular saying expressing contempt, defiance, or dismissal.


Mysterious candy maven Willy Wonka has hidden five golden tickets in chocolate bars all over the world, and whoever is lucky enough to find one has the chance for a lifetime supply of chocolate and—we find out later—much, much more.

Now, the term golden ticket can refer to any lucky break. The phrase plays off meal ticket, something that ensures prosperity and financial security, and which originally referred to a literal ticket for a cheap meal.

As for when exactly golden ticket originated, that’s as mysterious as Wonka himself. According to Google Ngrams, the term peaked in usage in the 1840s, although at that time it seemed to refer to a ticket for special entrance into performances and other venues.

While usage of the phrase dropped off after the 19th century, it began to rise again after the mid-1980s, perhaps around the time that Willy Wonka began running on cable television.


Old Slugworth would give his right thumb for an everlasting gobstopper. The infinite candy could “revolutionize the industry,” says Wonka. “You can suck 'em and suck 'em and suck 'em, and they'll never get any smaller.”

In the 1970s, Breaker Confections, a Chicago candy company bought by Nestle in the 1980s and renamed the Willy Wonka Candy Factory, put out an everlasting gobstopper as a movie tie-in. Alas, their version bears no resemblance to the Sputnik-shaped jawbreaker in the film.

A real-life long-lasting sucker is the Japanese 60-Minute Candy, which is aimed to stop dieters from snacking and was originally made for fishermen who needed hands-free refreshments.

As for the word gobstopper, it originated in the late 1920s. Slang for “mouth,” gob either comes from the Irish gob, “beak,” or might be a corruption of gab. The term jawbreaker is older, from about 1875, and was a British brand name for a kind of gobstopper, and before that, referred to a word that’s hard to pronounce. As for usage, jawbreaker wins that popularity contest.


“Snozzberries?” Veruca says. “Who ever heard of a snozzberry?”

While on the surface snozzberries may seem merely a fantastical fruit joining the ranks of the oranges, pineapples, and strawberries on Wonka’s lickable wallpaper, the term might actually be a (very dirty) inside joke.

According to Cracked, in a 1979 adult novel, Dahl uses snozzberry to refer to a penis. When asked how she got a man to wear a condom, a character answers, "I grabbed hold of his snozzberry and hung onto it like grim death and gave it a twist or two to make him hold still." All of which makes the idea of kids licking snozzberry wallpaper super-creepy.

The construction of the word itself screams male genitalia. Snozz could be an alternation of the phallic schnozz, or nose, while berries could refer to testicles (see twig and berries).


Dahl was obviously a master at creating nonsensical words, but he didn’t make up all of the names of the monsters that the poor Oompa-Loompas had to deal with.

Whangdoodle originated around 1858 to mean an imaginary creature or unnamed thing (think whatsit or watchamacallit) while hornswoggle, to dupe or bamboozle, is from 1829. Vermicious means “pertaining to worms.”

The only Dahl-originals appear to be snozzwanger and knid. Outside of Dahl, we couldn’t find anything on knid (besides the inevitably-named indie rock band) while snozzwanger might be a blend of schnozz and wang, slang for “penis,” which seems to be a recurring theme for Dahl.


Scrumdiddlyumptious is a delicious portmanteau combining scrumptious and diddly. While we now use scrumptious to refer to something yummy, the word also at one time meant fastidious and hard to please. This meaning comes from scrump, an alteration of scrimp, to scrape and save. Before scrumptious came to refer specifically to tasty food, it was enthusiastic praise for anything.

Diddly, meaning something insignificant or trifling, either comes from diddle, to waste time, or tiddly, a tiny amount.


A blend of egg and indicator, the eggdicator “can tell the difference between a good egg and a bad egg,” says Wonka.


Dahl certainly gives Charles Dickens a run for his money in terms of making up names. While Mike Teavee is a bit obvious (the kid watches a lot of TV), Violet Beauregard perfectly captures the pseudo-elitism of new money Americans; Charlie Bucket, a plain modesty; and Augustus Gloop, the sound of a full belly.

However, the most subtle jibe might be Veruca Salt. A verruca is a kind of wart, and while salt is clearly a nod to Mr. Salt’s nut business, it also refers to wit or sarcasm, something sharp or bitter, and sexual desire.

fan theory suggests that each child represents a deadly sin. Along that vein, Veruca might be lust (although she's lusty for material items, not sex); Augustus, gluttony; couch potato Mike, sloth; and poverty-stricken Charlie, envy. However, there are more sins than kids and some, like Violet and Veruca, could embody more than one. Regardless, knowing all of that makes the band name Veruca Salt even saltier.

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.


According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.


In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.


Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.


This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.


Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.


This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.


This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.


If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”


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