Grasping at Straws: Violet Beauregarde

Welcome to Grasping at Straws, the weekly blog where the unheralded, the underappreciated, and the long forgotten get their time to shine! Each week, I will “make the case” for an unpopular opinion regarding any topic or category of culture and life. Suggestions for future topics will be taken and considered at any of Sour Power’s social media channels, but please, keep it classy.

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Violet Beauregarde should have been chosen as the heir to Willy Wonka for control of The Chocolate Factory. There, I said it.

From my perspective, it’s an easy choice. The obvious one. The right one.

The book, as well as the two film adaptations of the book, tries extremely hard to make you believe that Charlie is the only one of the five Golden Ticket holders that is worthy of the Wonka factory, but I’m here to tell you that Violet was the better candidate. This is the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hot take you never knew you needed.

First, a little background for anyone out there whose childhood was deeply unfortunate enough to not include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Roald Dahl’s classic novel centers around a gem of a kid named Charlie Bucket who walks by the magnificent Wonka Chocolate Factory every day but is too poor to ever purchase even one of his candies at the local store. The mysterious Willy Wonka runs the factory, though no one knows much at all about him and what goes on inside his gates. This all changes when news spreads of five Golden Tickets that will be hidden inside five Wonka products which will grant a tour of the factory to each person that finds one. A wild hunt for the tickets ensues, yielding four very-not-gems-of-kids, as well as Charlie, the opportunity to venture inside the Wonka factory. Hilarity ensues from there as Willy Wonka is finally introduced and Charlie is eventually deemed Wonka’s rightful successor by the end of the tour.

So there’s your brief overview of what the whole story is all about. Charlie Bucket is by far the nicest, most respectful, most genuine character in the book, but I ask you to zoom in on Violet Beauregarde with me. The ambitious, competitive, self-centered, impatient, record-holding-gum-chewer Violet Beauregarde.

The reason Willy Wonka conducted the grand tour of his factory with the five Golden Ticket holders was to determine who will take over for him as the director of the Wonka brand and factory. Above all else, he despised rude and selfish behavior which is why everyone not named Charlie Bucket didn’t stand a chance. However, if he primarily valued qualities that are most conducive to being a strong and successful leader of a large company, then it would be as if Violet was a Harvard graduate and Charlie didn’t even finish high school.

Let’s run through Violet’s resume, shall we? At the top is her almost-unheard-of-for-her-age self-determination and drive. All iterations of Violet make special mention of her gum-chewing record of three straight months on the same piece of gum. At night she would stick it to her bedpost. When she eats she would keep it behind her ear. That level of commitment is incredibly impressive. I mean, there’s just no way the gum doesn’t fall onto the floor at least a few times over the course of three months, right? And any time it did, Violet would simply pick it up, blow off the dust (or maybe not), and keep on working those teeth. Everything was on the table for her in order to snatch that record. You have to respect the grind.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Although the 2005 film is my least favorite version of this story, it arguably does the best job of supporting my case for Violet’s supremacy. Despite being only 12 years old, she has already won 263 trophies and medals in various activities such as martial arts competitions, gymnastics, and swimming. Once inside the factory, and eager to make the best first impression, Violet gives Wonka a hug and a smile while boldly proclaiming that she will be the one to win the “special prize at the end.” Wonka has no choice but to acknowledge her confidence. This sort of an innate competitive streak is sure to translate perfectly to the business world as she gets older, and Wonka seems to take notice if only for a second. Her later actions seemingly made him lose sight of this moment, which I firmly believe to be a massive mistake on the part of Wonka.

As we all know, her downfall during the tour was that she was so juiced up about the three-course-meal gum that she immediately grabbed it and started chewing despite Wonka’s declaration that it was not yet finished and was yet to be tested by a human. End result: she turned into a giant blueberry. However, where you may see impulsiveness and an inability to listen, I see intense passion and a willingness to be a trailblazer despite a large amount of risk. When Wonka warns her not to eat the gum, she literally says, “I’m not afraid of anything.” You’re either born with that level of fearlessness or you’re not. If I didn’t know any better, Violet could have easily been Evel Kneivel’s daughter. Violet even displays the potential for growth upon leaving the factory in the 2005 film, taking her post-blueberry form in stride as she appears to possess a more pleasant disposition. Violet even seamlessly adapts to her newfound, superhuman acrobatic abilities in what has to be at the most only a few hours. It’s people like this who make the best leaders, the type of person you would follow into any battle.

This brings me to my final point: Charlie is not going to be able to handle the rigors of running that chocolate factory. He simply doesn’t have it in him. You need someone who is assertive, resourceful, and at least a little crazy, just like Wonka is. Violet is the most similar to him, and is best equipped to keep the Oompa Loompas in line. Remember, those guys are extremely loyal, but also prone to cheeky, outlandish behavior. Imagine Charlie trying to discipline a rogue bunch of Oompa Loompas who start roasting him during a song. He wouldn’t last 5 minutes with his quiet, reserved demeanor. On the other hand, Violet can be downright frightening when she wants to be while also possessing the vision and resolve to inspire the Oompa Loompas and keep morale high.

After assessing all the angles, it becomes quite clear that Violet Beauregarde was robbed. Charlie, along with the other kids, is nowhere near as qualified as Violet based on prior accomplishments, personality traits, and projections moving forward. If Violet was chosen as the heir to the Wonka throne, you would’ve had to think that they were eventually bound to surpass Hershey or Mars as the undisputed King of Candy. With her ambition and competitive nature, Violet wouldn’t have stopped until she had conquered everything in her path.

Violet was the best option to lead Wonka into the future. The obvious one. The right one.

But hey, maybe I’m just grasping at straws.