The Flamboyant Wriggling Wonky Wonder – London, 1839
If you knew your way around London in 1839 then you would no doubt know about the shop of Catpuss & Co on Scrumdidly Street. Catpuss & Co was world famous for its fantastical range of sweets, sweets that could be found no where else in the world. Peering through the window you would have found lemon fizz fish that swim around your mouth, goofball gum that made you bark like a dog and the classic Scrumdidly Surprise, a pink striped candy bar filled with real ice cream and fresh strawberries.
Then on one day in 1845 a new candy appeared in the window only it wasn’t candy, it was chocolate but like no other chocolate. Shaped like a small pyramid and covered in gold it was called The Pharaohs Secret and contained inside its scrumptious layers salted peanuts and butterscotch with a deliciously gooey centre of toffee and the surprise of finding little mini treasures made from white and milk chocolate inside. It had grown men banging on the door every morning, servants were sent with strict orders to buy as many as possible, women swooned from just one taste, it really was the stuff of legends.
The fame of the little shop on Scrumdidly Street grew and grew, how did they make such paradisiacal things? Who was behind such genius? Even the shop assistants at Catpuss & Co didn’t know, every day when they arrived the shop was magically restocked and everything was as neat and tidy as it was the day before and the day before that.
Newspapers ran articles speculating, gossip was passed on street corners, rumours abounded but still the secret remained until one day London awoke to a city full of fancy. The streets were paved with chocolate; candy decorated every doorstep and boiled sweets were found in every corner. Laughter filled the streets, smiles filled people’s faces, children ran through the streets playing with liquorish hoops, ladies nibbled delicately on dappled candy canes whilst gentlemen sampled boxes of fine whisky flavoured chocolate cigars.
If you were stood on Scrumdidly Street that morning you would have seen the biggest smile you have ever seen. For you would have been the only witnesses to the maker of all this joy, The Flamboyant Wriggling Wonky Wonder, a creature that had one goal, to spread happiness in the only way it knew how to. The very next day the little shop on Scrumdidly Street was empty, not one piece of candy or scrap of chocolate remained all that was left was a small note pinned to the door. It simply said ‘Be happy’ and was signed with a curly ‘W’
We don’t really know who painted this Lost Impossimal as Charles Burroughs was in the Jiangnan province, China tracking the High Tea Hee-Haw during this period so could have not possibly witnessed the scene but we do know the impact it had on history. In the 1850’s memories of the day candy, chocolate and happiness filled the streets prompted parliament to reduce the high import tax on cocoa to give a lift to its citizens. One such beneficiary of the change was the Cadbury brothers of Birmingham who by 1854 had secured a Royal Warrant as manufacturers to the Queen such was their skill.
By the 1930’s Cadburys was one of the world’s biggest chocolate manufacturers and often sent out boxes of new chocolates to be tested by the pupils of Repton School in Derbyshire. One pupil never forgot these boxes of delight and often dreamt of inventing a chocolate bar that would win the praise of Mr.Cadbury, that pupil was none other than Roald Dahl.
If you look in the window of the shop to the left you will find a chalkboard, on the board is the letter ‘W’, so far we have found several others hidden in the painting but there could be many more.