I have become a firm believer that you must read the book before you watch the movie. However, this is a pretty new rule I am holding myself to.
When I was a kid, the magic of the movies is what inspired me to open the book. I was obsessed with the movie, The Wizard of Oz, which lead me to reading all fourteen of L. Frank Baum’s imaginary world called Oz. And therefore, the 1971 classic, starring a slightly manic yet somehow endearing Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, is why I read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Whether you’ve picked up the book or watched the movie, you likely know that the “everlasting gobstopper” is central to the story. You may also recall that each child is encouraged by Wonka’s rival to steal one from the Inventing Room.
So what came first? The candy or the fictionalized version imagined by Dahl?
Why is it Called Gobstopper?
Gobstopper’s were around long before Roald Dahl imagined the everlasting version for his novel. The term gobstopper is derived from the word “gob” which is slang for mouth in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In the U.S. however, the hard candy was known as a jawbreaker and was introduced in the early 1900’s by the Ferrara Pan Candy Company. It wasn’t until the release of the ‘71 movie that gobstoppers became both a part of our vocabulary and shortly after an item for grabs on the candy shelf.
The Chicago candy company, Breaker Confections, licensed the name “Everlasting Gobstopper” in 1971, so they could capitalize on the success of the film. In 1976, they released the Gobstopper into the market, and although it was unable to last as long as Wonka’s, there are several layers of color and flavor that change as you suck on the candy. The name gobstopper was around long before Dahl’s novel and his inspiration for the name was inspired by a surprising place: school.
Dahl went to a famous English boarding school called Repton, where he and his friends were the subjects of market research. It was here, where the famed chocolate making company Cadbury, would send a number of their newest chocolate creations to test flavors. The chocolate would arrive in basic, unlabeled packaging to prevent biases and the boys had the hardship of testing each and encouraged to share their thoughts at the end.
Source: Roald Dahl
Dahl said, “it was then I realized that inside this great Cadbury’s chocolate factory there must be an inventing room, a secret place where fully-grown men in white overalls spent all their time playing around with sticky boiling messes, sugar and chocs, and mixing them up and trying to invent something new and fantastic.” The inspiration of this magical invention room is what led to the creation of the Gobstopper. What’s your favorite outer-layer Gobstopper flavor?
Lauren Dunn is a contributor for Rewind and Capture. With a passion for food and wine she received a degree in agricultural journalism and has put this to use as a cellar apprentice from Italy to Sonoma. When she’s not in the vineyard she’s training for open water swims or catching a flick at the cinema.