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November 18, 2004


Who's Laffing Now?

Laffy Taffy

Today I want to bring your attention to a scandal involving my favorite candy of all time, Willy Wonka™ brand Laffy Taffy™. For those of you unfamiliar with the product, Laffy Taffy is a unique blend of slightly tart, chewy taffy and packaging printed with wildly unfunny jokes allegedly submitted by candy-hungry children across the nation.

I've had my doubts about the Laffy Taffy joke submission process for some time, but have never seen a reason to take up the issue with the Wonka company. After all, sometimes you do come across a gem like:

Laffy Taffy joke

Laffy Taffy answer

But every consumer has her limit. And that would be when she's waiting for the elevator, calmly munching a little piece of candy, and she smooths out the wrapper to find THIS!

Laffy Taffy joke

Laffy Taffy answer

Obviously, I called the Wonka toll-free number immediately, where I spoke to a very helpful customer service representative (perhaps an Oompa Loompa?).

Emily: I have a question about the Wonka Laffy Taffy packaging. Some of the jokes seem – well, let me be frank. They're pretty stupid. How are they submitted? How do you decide what to print?
Willy Wonka Rep: Children submit jokes through our website, they’re reviewed to make sure they’re appropriate, and then printed on the wrappers.
Emily: Reviewed for content?
WW: Yes, to make sure they’re appropriate.
Emily: So - what does that mean – you weed out dirty jokes?
WW: Yes, sure.
Emily: But not jokes that don’t make sense.
WW: Well...children are funny. A joke that might make someone my age scratch their head, you show it to a kid and they’ll be rolling on the floor.
Emily: No, I understand that. So, your policy is to print any joke that’s submitted, as long as it’s not dirty?
WW: Appropriate, yes.
Emily: Ok. Well, I have a question about this particular joke (I read her the joke, she chuckles a little). You're telling me a child submitted this joke? It doesn't make sense on any level! It's not even a pun!
WW: haha - very true.
Emily: I mean, this is a reference to Flash Gordon, right?
WW: haha....
Emily: Look, I'm serious here and - logic aside - doesn’t it seem odd that a child would submit a joke referencing a cult movie that’s 25 years old?
WW: um...
Emily: I mean, it just struck me as odd.
WW: Well, all the jokes are submitted by children.
Emily: But - Flash Gordon? I mean, come on.
WW: All the jokes are submitted by children on our website.

Unsatisfied, I sent an email regarding my issues with this "joke submission policy" to the Wonka mothership, Nestle USA, and received the following answer:

Thank you for inquiring about Wonka Laffy Taffy. We appreciate your kind and thoughtful comments. Children submit the jokes on the Laffy Taffy wrappers. They are accepted only on the Wonka.com website.

Once again, thank you for your interest in our products and we hope you'll visit our website often for the latest information on Nestlé products and promotions.

Consumer Response Representative

Clearly, this line of inquiry has gone as far as the Nestle/Wonka corporate machine will allow. Of course, I'd swallow this party line more willingly if jokes could actually be submitted on the Wonka.com website. However, if you go to Wonka.com you'll find nothing but a store, a few flash games, and an "Ask Willy" section where children can submit burning questions such as, "Do you snore at night?"

Don't try to fool me, Mr. Wonka. You may want to give the impression of a kinder, gentler candy company, but this customer finds it a little more likely that some stoner in the Wonka design department has been watching the Sci-Fi channel at 3 a.m.

categories: Business
posted by Emily at 11:55 AM | #

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