Wonkiest Memes of the “Willy Chocolate Experience” Fiasco

The harrowing Willy’s Chocolate Experience at a Glasgow warehouse has taken the world by storm over the last week. Though the experience maybe ran for less than half a day before being shut down, it’s still being talked about, if not memed into oblivion, on social media — and rightfully so. It’s what the event promised versus what it delivered that initially grabbed everyone’s attention, but then we saw the AI-generated promotional imagery in all its glory, the hired actors went public with the ChatGPT script they were expected to memorize the day before the event, and creator Billy Coull’s track record of absurd AI endeavors came out into the open.

Arguably the most iconic part of the whole event was the birth of a contemporary Helen of Troy — Kirsty of Glasgow, the face that launched a thousand memes. Kirsty has since come out with her side of the story in a Vulture interview and on her new TikTok account and is taking the internet notoriety in stride, which is great for us, as her facial expression in a Poundland Oompa Loompa costume has become the main image of the whole event and incredible fodder for internet spinoffs.

Now, come with me, and you’ll see, what lies within virtual imagination …

This image alone could carry an entire museum labor unionization effort from group chat origins to contract ratification:

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Evidence of how we must laugh or else we’ll cry (screenshot Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic via @freeze_magazine on Instagram)

While some have called Kirsty the meme of 2024, others can’t differentiate her from every other green-haired, sullen-faced part-time barista working in a mid-sized city.

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Perspective is everything, isn’t it? (screenshot Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic via @northwest_mcm_wholesale on Instagram)

On the other hand, it feels good to see Kirsty get the respect she deserves as demonstrated below! Several attendees have also come out to say how lovely she was with their children despite the horrific circumstances.

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It’s the way that she high-key matches the panel and only needs some winged eyeliner to seal the deal … (screenshot Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic via @sumgarf on X)

Being that she actually tried to mitigate child suffering with limited means rather than find virtue in it, I’d hazard to say Mother Theresa is a bit of an insult toward Sister Kirsty, but that’s just me …

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Kirsty rationing jelly beans to children at the event (screenshot Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic via @kxn_dxwns on X)

And it’s great to know she wasn’t bearing the cross alone, either. Rumor has it that Oompa Loompa #2 is actually Kate Middleton who is currently MIA right now, engendering multiple conspiracy theories. I’m not saying it’s her, but have we really ever seen Kate in the same room as an Oompa Loompa? Ruminate on that gobstopper for a moment.

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Why is this formatted like the Secret Service telling Bush about 9/11 meme 😭 (screenshot Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic via @Bencouvy on X)

Speaking of new character drops, this viral clip of children reacting to “the Unknown,” an evil chocolate maker who lives in the factory’s walls according to Billy Coull’s 15-page AI-generated script for the actors, has people in complete shambles. He’s definitely going to make an easy, iconic, and recognizable Halloween costume this year, so keep that in your back pocket if you need something at the last second.

It’s also worth noting that despite the event having turned out to be a not-so-Enchanted garden-variety shit show that cost £35 (~$44) a ticket, it was so hysterically, insanely bad it was actually kind of good? I’ve seen people post in envy of those who were in attendance, and a Change.org petition to “Reopen the Glasgow Willy Wonka Experience” has over 5,000 signatures and counting.

Some of the parents have even joked that this may have been the best £35 they’ve ever spent in hindsight …

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An unironically coveted accessory (screenshot Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic via @adamgreattweet on X)

Like I could imagine Black Friday-level stampedes over this if it ever became a collectible.

AI might have laid the framework for this, but only the human mind could create something so beautiful from it.

And while everyone is harping on and on about the parents who got scammed by a nonsensical event with obviously AI-generated promotional images, we have to thank two iconic pieces of children’s media for warning us that this could happen in the first place:

I mean the resemblance is uncanny … And there’s even an example that precedes it as the official TikTok account for the children’s TV show Arthur (1996–2022) so kindly reminds us:

I guess that the lesson is that these types of scams against children and families have always existed — it’s just that they take on new forms as technology evolves, such as “a pasadise of sweet teats.”

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