Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Breaking It to Them

My children were believers, as most children are. A belief so ingrained, that I dreaded the day I would have to tell them to the truth. I mean, after all, they can't go on believing in such mythological creatures forever, and sooner is better than later, I always say. (Well, no, I don't, actually.)

He is the man every child longs for, bearing the most delightful of gifts. He has many names, and I'm sure by now you know who I'm referring to.

Yep. Willy Wonka. The Candy Man. The one who can take a rainbow and mix it up with love.

You see, as I've blogged before, my children have been obsessed with good ol' Willy for some time. Actually, every since they watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the theater last year, not to mention the umpteen million times they've watched it, and it's counterpart Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder.

But yesterday, they were talking about how they wish they could meet Willy Wonka, and how Willy Wonka must be really cool, and I got scared. In our family, while we encourage the use of the imagination, the idea of believing that a fictional character of mythic proportions is actually real...well, I have to draw the line somewhere. So, I had to sit them down and express to them the story of a struggling candy maker looking for a way to boost sales, and so rushed the Gene Wilder version into production, then slapped the name Willy Wonka all over their candy bars. The tactic worked. But, I was sad to tell them, the man of Willy Wonka was simply the name of a character from a book by Dahl.

They took it rather well, actually, which goes to show you that it seems the parents have a harder time with such revelations than the children. Strangely enough, they were intrigued with it all. And, the result of this can be summarized in the comment made by my six-year-old.

"I still like the candy, though."

Ah, yes. As do we all. To paraphrase the great William Shakespeare via Juliet, a candy bar by any other name would taste as sweet.

And I have proof. Sort of.

Two years ago, my wife discovered a new candy bar. Snickers Almond. It is just like a Snickers bar, except instead of peanuts they use--and you'll never guess this, so I'll just tell you straight up--almonds! The taste was suprisingly good, perhaps even better than the original Snickers.

But then I noticed something. The packaging was the same tannish-brown color of another candy bar. The Mars Bar. And, the Snickers Almond bar happens to be made by Mars candies. Then, you compare the ingredients. Milk chocolate, nouget (whatever that is), caramel, and almonds. Identical.

Well, I put two and two together. I'm smart that way. It turns out, the Mars Bar wasn't selling so hot, so they decided to repackage it as a Snickers Almond bar, and voila! Sales shot up.

So, there you have it. A candy bar by any other name.

In the meantime, my children decided to mourn the loss of the figure known as Willy Wonka by doing the most reasonable thing they could think of...go out and buy themselves a box of Nerds.

Next, I'm going to have to break the news that there really isn't any such thing as a Great Glass Elevator. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

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