restricted access Candy Boys and Chocolate Factories: Roald Dahl, Racialization, and Global Industry


This essay reconsiders the racial dynamics of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964). The Oompa-Loompas, African pygmies in the novel's first drafts, reflect its racism, their cuteness justifying coerced labor and white supremacy. An early manuscript version, "Charlie's Chocolate Boy," features a black protagonist trapped in a chocolate mold. Dahl thus connects industrial food production with racialization. In the final version of the novel, the chocolate factory recolors and transforms the bodies of white children, now marked and vulnerable. This ethical lesson complicates the seeming endorsement of white privilege in Charlie's ascent in the Great Glass Elevator.