Twists On a Classic: Gulliver Grey & The Granola Mill - Chapter One
(Singing) Come with me, and you'll be, in a world of pure organic products! Take a look, and you'll see into your own shallow tasteless palette. If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to....do it. Want to change your diet....there's nothing toooo it!
Ah, the timeless classic that was Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. And what a shocker, they remade and ruined a gem. At this point have we not all learned that Johnny Depp is only as good as the pirate ship he captains? The only way he pulls off the role of Wonka is if he cuts the ribbon to the entrance of his factory as the unforgettable character of Edward Scissorhands. Never happened. Just like me never watching the disaster that was the 2005 rendition of The Chocolate Factory. Somewhat surprising considering Tim Burton directed both Scissorhands and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Oh well, opportunity missed. In any event, I stumbled across the film (the original mind you) not too long ago and was instantly taken back to a world of pure imagination. A world of pure high-fructose. A factory devoted to all things sweet, savory, and sensational. Before my mind could drift too far into Candy Land I was dental-flossed right back into the present. There's no way in the nougat center of a candy bar that that story line would fly today. Even Willy's inexplicable Wonka-vator couldn't get us there.
Nowadays it seems as though everyone's got the "golden ticket" when it comes to a successful diet. Non-GMO this, gluten free that, take this supplement. Shut 'er down folks. Let's have some fun with this one, shall we?
It shouldn't take too much effort for you to picture a present-day Chocolate Factory, correct? If it helps, go stand in any of the isles in your local Whole Foods Market. If that trip doesn’t inspire herbivorous tendencies then you’ve been playing in the Chuck E Cheese ball pit for far too long. Oh, I'm also fully aware that we can still snag any/all diabetic classics off the shelves of our nearest convenient store. Snickers? Satisfied. M&M's? Melting in my belly. Hell, you can still fill the void of despair with a few pieces of Bit 'o Honey. Alas, we're not here to gorge on sweets. We're here to flip the savory script.
Again, I want you to think Whole Foods. Substitute Twizzlers with pickled asparagus. Envision that silky smooth chocolate river as a free-flowing vein of coconut water! Hence Gulliver Grey's Granola Mill. Sure, there's a growing list of "hipster" male names out there, but GG resonated with me for this particular go round. Enter our “earthy” twist to the diabetic classic we all know and love.
This film has to find its way to the big screen. And by big screen I mean freshly resurrected drive-in theaters across the country. Why drive-ins? Come on. We need to appeal to the hipster crowd. Kazoos are in. Multi-colored denim options are a must. You want to sell tickets? Let's bait every VW Vanagon and Toyota Prius for miles around! Bring back the drive-in. At this very moment I'm taken back to a classic (perhaps best) baseball movie....Field of Dreams. "If you build it, they will come." Let's get to work.
The year? 2019. My name is Francis Osceola, and I’m a thirty-five year old freelance writer for a culinary magazine whose existing publication hangs on by the sinewy thread of a spaghetti squash. Like most folks of my generation, I cling to the last faint buzz left behind from a youth filled to the brim of a pillowcase with sugary treats. Halloween is no more, at least not as the celebration you and I once gorged on come October 31st. Children today tote around reusable grocery bags and stuff them full of celery stalks, sea salt vegetable chips, and Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups (even though those are frowned upon nowadays).
As only fate could dictate, my most recent story finds me scouring the town of Munich to trace both the demise of the once famous Chocolate Factory of Willy Wonka, and its health-conscious successor, Gulliver Grey and his Granola Mill.
Upon arriving I urge my driver to take me to the site, or shall I say ruins, of the once-heralded mecca of mocha. I will forever attribute that moment to any preceding trip I’d taken to a cemetery. As we pull up to the remains of the forgotten fertile crescent of joy, I’m reminded of why I become so despondent while walking among all those rows of headstones. It’s not a fear of being among the deceased that grips me, rather a sense of foreboding that with the loss of great people comes the loss of the things that made them great. This same feeling overwhelms me as I stand ankle-deep, awash in Wonka’s rubble.
Willy bestowed his greatest gift to a boy, who in his defense portrayed enough character to earn the right to wield that passing torch. Alas, the boy’s name was Charlie Bucket. Anyone with the last name synonymous to a tool in a custodian’s arsenal cannot be considered trustworthy. Do you know any polarizing figures out there with the last name plunger, mop, scrub brush, or dustpan? As it were, Charlie ran that factory into the ground. I now sit atop the aftermath of his destruction.
Much like his predecessor, Bumbling Bucket — an unfortunate nickname bequeathed to the man held responsible for the demise of happiness — lived a life shrouded in mystery. So it was only natural that we, the general public, harnessed our rage into one large ominous finger pointed at the sole person supposedly responsible for running the entire operation. Yet to this day no one can say for sure how Wonka’s empire was reduced to Pixie Stix dust. It’s for this reason I’ve been sent to Munich. I must find Bucket. I’ve been tasked with bringing the truth to light. What do we hope to gain I do not know. Can that glorious river of chocolate once again flow like the mighty river of the Mississippi, or have the Gobs all been stopped?
This is my employer’s Hail Mary, their version of the $5 Hot n’ Ready idea which helped Little Caesars rise from the ashes as a phoenix within the pizza community. This is our last shot. Having said that, no expenses were spared. This trip, and the information I carry with me, cost my editor’s daughter a date with all three of the Jonas brothers, which included a concert headlined by another trio of bros: Hanson. Word has it she’s still in critical condition but recovering nicely. On a side note, how insulted do you think the Tulsa Symphony was when told they were going to play a piece titled “Mmmmbop”?
“Sure Maestro, I’ve spent the last four decades of my life perfecting this instrument only to have it all crescendo to this very moment. The moment being an orchestral version of a one-hit wonder. Thank you for this.”
In my bag I carry an address supposedly unveiling the whereabouts of Mr. Bucket. After collecting my thoughts I turn my back on the ghosts of chocolate past and drop my weary bones into the backseat of the cab and direct the chauffeur to my hotel.
A few drinks in the lobby help me forget about the past I once knew, and I decide it’s time to shuffle up to my room. As I settle in for what I hope — and need — is a good night’s sleep, a flicker of light catches the corner of my eye. There, protruding from the fold of my duffel, is a shiny piece of paper. I roll over to snatch the object from my bag when what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a golden ticket, which caused me to shed many a tear! Where did it come from? How did it get here? It was then that I realized I was just thrust into a world of pure imagination….