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Leith on life: Willy Wonka economics

The mere idea of a “limited edition” makes the novelty preferable

By Sam Leith   July 2015

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“Only once a year, on his birthday, did Charlie Bucket ever get to taste a bit of chocolate.” There—and note the force and poignancy that the disruption in word order gives Roald Dahl’s immortal sentence—is the very nub of Charlie’s world of longing and want. “On those marvellous birthday mornings, he would place [the chocolate] in a small wooden box that he owns, and treasure it as though it were a bar of solid gold [my italics].”

That last phrase strikes home. Here is a fantastical economics of confectionery. Charlie’s life is…

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