Willy Wonka’s Outstanding Oompas!

Willy Wonka’s Oompas – isolated from trade ad – 1972

Willy Wonka’s Oompas stand as one of my all-time favorite candy treats.  I loved them as a kid, and I’ve really enjoyed digging into the history of them as a collector.

For those who don’t remember, Oompas were like an over-sized M&M candy, but filled with half-chocolate and half-peanut butter.  I recall that upon the introduction of Reese’s Pieces in the later 70’s, I was befuddled as they seemed less like pieces of Reese’s than Wonka Oompas, which had been around for years.

As I pointed out in my teaser post two days ago, the Willy Wonka candy brand was launched in late 1971 with two products; Peanut Butter Oompas and Super Skrunch.

Quaker Oats Wonka candy launch – trade clipping – September 1971

The earliest design for Oompas featured a full-length Willy Wonka mascot on the package.  This was in place when they were initially released from Quaker, and probably lasted a year or two under Concorde-Sunmark.  Here’s a page from a salesman catalog of the time:

Willy Wonka’s Salesman book – Oompas – 1971 – Courtesy Dan Goodsell

And here’s an image of an early Oompas display box:

Early 70’s Willy Wonka’s Oompas display box – Courtesy Dan Goodsell

I’d like to point out that I’ve never come across an actual example of an early 70’s “full-body Wonka” Oompas package.  I’ve only turned up images from ads and other materials from that period in the evolution of the brand.

Here’s an interesting clipping from another kind of advertisement.  I’m not sure if this was meant to represent a version of an actual package, or was simply a mock-up for the ad in question:

Early 70’s Willy Wonka’s Oompas ad clipping – Courtesy Traci’s Retro

The earliest example of an actual Oompas pack I can show today comes from my pal Dan Goodsell’s collection.  This pack is a style I recall vividly from my own youth.

Sunmark-Concorde – Willy Wonka’s Peanut Butter Oompas – early 1970’s – Courtesy Dan Goodsell

The classic Willy Wonka mascot remained prominently on packs likely until 1975, which would be in line with what I’ve found for Super Skrunch.  By 1976, Oompas packs had transitioned to a design that no longer featured a full-color illustrated mascot.  Instead, the mascot would be incorporated into the Willy Wonka logo itself:

Sunmark-Concorde – Willy Wonka’s – Peanut Butter Oompas – 20-cent tube pack – 1976

1976 was also likely the time when Oompas began to be offered in standard packs and “tube packs” which were more narrow, but also longer.  I believe both pack styles were offered concurrently, as you can see with this pair of 1977-dated packages:

Sunmark-Concorde – Willy Wonka’s – Peanut Butter Oompas – tube pack – 1977

Sunmark-Concorde – Willy Wonka’s – Peanut Butter Oompas – package – 1977 – Courtesy Brandon Coker

The following year in 1978, Oompas saw the focus put on an adjustment to their flavors, when they became Peanut Butterier. 

Sunmark-Concorde – Willy Wonka’s – Now Peanut Butterier Oompas – candy package – 1978

If you read yesterday’s piece on Super Skrunch, you should notice some parallels to how the two products were marketed.   As with the Super Skrunch, in 1979, Oompas packs were increased to offer “More Candy!”:

Sunmark-Concorde – Willy Wonka’s – Now Peanut Butterier Oompas – candy package – 1979

In 1980, Oompas got quite a flavorful addition to the brand, when a short-lived flavor spinoff was released with Strawberry Oompas:

Sunmark-Concorde – Willy Wonka’s – New Strawberry Oompas – candy package – 1980 – Courtesy CandyWrapperMuseum.com

I can’t be sure, but it’s likely that 1980 saw a similar design for Peanut Butter Oompas, but thus far I’ve been unable to track down a standard 1980 package.

As was evident during my research of the Super Skrunch brand, the early years of the corporate transition from Concorde Confections to Willy Wonka Brands division was a time of change, and saw the final Oompas offered.

From 1981, here’s the last-known version of the original Willy Wonka’s Oompas run:

Sunmark – Willy Wonka Brands – Double Flavored Oompas – candy package – 1981

For reasons we can now only speculate on, Willy Wonka’s Oompas were discontinued, likely last on shelves in 1982.

Two decades later, now under Nestle, the Wonka Oompas brand would be revived in the UK.  But rather than bringing back the original Oompas, this new version was a product similar to Harry Potter Bertie Botts jelly beans novelty flavors:

UK – Nestle – Wonka – Oompas – candy package – 2001 – Courtesy Brandon Coker

Later, in the mid-2000’s and in the USA this time, Wonka Oompas got another try with a fruit-flavored treat:

Nestle – Willy Wonka – Oompas fruit flavored candy – 2005 – Courtesy CandyBlog.net

It seems as though the New Zealand arm of Wonka still had these on shelves as late as 2009 – with a variation on the packaging found in the United States:

New Zealand – Nestle Wonka – Oompas – candy package – 2009 – Courtesy Steve Williams

None of the new Oompas offerings appears to have lasted very long, and today the world is once again Oompa-less.

It would be great if the current candy-makers at Wonka could find a way to bring back the original Oompas and Super Skrunch – something they’ve never tried to do.   I suspect that production issues might make that difficult or impossible, but I do think a retro release of the original Peanut Butter Oompas would be met with cheers from the streets by many adults who would remember them fondly.  So my inner-child continues to dream.

I’d like to offer one last whimsical look back at the original treats that started the Wonka candy brand.  This is a trade ad that was entirely illustrated, and I quite like the look of it.

Quaker Oats – Willy Wonka – Super Skrunch – Oompas – trade ad August 1972

And that’s everything on this outstanding classic Wonka treat — Oompas.  I continue to hope they may one day make a return, but if they don’t, I’ll always remember them with great fondness.

See you next time!

About Jason Liebig

A New York City based writer, editor and sometimes actor. After spending much of the 1990′s in the comic book business helping tell the stories of Marvel Comics’ X-Men as series editor, he has since split his time between developing his own entertainment properties while still consulting and working on others. Having been described as “the Indiana Jones of lost and forgotten candy”, Jason is one of the country’s premier candy collectors and historians with his discoveries appearing in countless blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and books. Always happy to share his knowledge and unique perspectives on this colorful part of our popular culture, Jason has consulted with New York’s Museum of Food and Drink and has also been a featured guest on Food Network’s Heavyweights, France’s M6 Capital, and New York’s TheActionRoom.com. My Google Profile+
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37 Responses to Willy Wonka’s Outstanding Oompas!

  1. Jim Rash says:

    Solid detective work on the early wonka candies.
    Still looking for them!

  2. JB says:

    Fantastic read. These were a little before my time but I’m shocked there isn’t anything similar out there today with the half peanut butter half chocolate approach (reeses pieces I would put at a 80/20 pb to choc ratio). Seems like a no brainer.

    You’ve got to put together a book. I’d buy it in a second.

  3. Brandon says:

    Spectacular post! I think it’s those 1975-1976 wrappers that I remember the most.

    I do enjoy the current Peanut Butter M&Ms, and seems like those folks could get close to reproducing a candy similar to the original Oompas.

  4. lynn says:

    willy wonka LOL bring back these OOMPAS, remember them as a kid and they were yummy

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  7. Kyle says:

    BRING BACK THE OOMPA. I loved those things. The ones in the purple package.

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  9. Liz says:

    WOW. Thanks so much for posting. For the last several years I thought maybe I was imagining my favorite childhood candy! I’ve done internet searches & never found info on the chocolate/peanut butter Oopmas in the past but only found info on the chewy/fruity things. (I thought they were called oompa loompas.) YUM!!! LOVE them!

  10. Stacie says:

    I would welcome a return of the original peanut butter Oompa Loompas!! They were my favorite and have great memories of them. What a great story by Jason Liebig, thank you for taking the time to write about the original Oompas!

  11. Jim says:

    I can’t believe Nestle can’t come up with a business model to manufacture this outstanding candy so that it will become available again. Oompas was wayyy better than M&M’s, of any flavor, and I still remember them to this day, 32 years later. Super Skrunch was good too but Oompas was my favorite. Oompas has great flavor! Some of the execs running these companies couldn’t run a hot dog stand on a street corner in Queens!

    • Jason Liebig says:


      Ha ha… well, I’m definitely with you on thinking these should be brought back. I’m not holding my breath, but boy it would be cool if they ever did!


  12. bill from Connectiuct says:

    I worked in a local pharmacy in the mid to late 70’s. This was my favorite candy and one of the best sellers. I too wish they would come back. There is nothing on today’s market that taste as good as oompas.

  13. Sara Kruger says:

    Wish they still made them they were my favorite and those nasty reeces pieces can’t hold a candle to the Original Oompas!!! Are you listening Nestle????

  14. I remember and loved the ORIGINAL OMPASS❣❣❣ I sung the song as a kid email every time I ate them. That was the only candy I never really wanted to share as a kid. I often hope theyes come back out

  15. Shauna says:

    Please bring back the fruity oompas!!!!!

  16. Susan says:

    The Oompas are still my favorite ever, in all time, my favorite candy.
    If they ever come back, I will forget everything I’ve learned about healthy eating is quantity controlled!

  17. Rosemarie says:

    My most favorite candy & I love candy. If they came back I would certainly buy them.

  18. Karen Zemaitis says:

    I agree with everyone that wants the chocolate/peanut butter Oompas back. I bought them all the time. One of my friends ( I found out loved them also) so I would pick a couple up for him. Then one day, they weren’t for sale anymore. What happened? They were Great! Nothing has ever come close since them.
    Please bring them back!!!

  19. Toni Osborne says:

    I was reminiscing with my husband about Oompas… To the point where he thought it was just in my imagination… I would love to see this Candy brought back!
    toniosborne55 @yahoo.com


  20. Toni Osborne says:

    I was reminiscing with my husband about Oompas… To the point where he thought it was just in my imagination… I would love to see this Candy brought back!


  21. Al from Ca says:

    Oompas were my favorite growing up. Unfortunately I was in a motorcycle accident resulting in some memory loss. About a month ago I started thinking about something being half chocolate and half peanut butter. Then all of a sudden, I remembered oompa-loompas. So I jumped on the internet and search for them. The first thing I saw was a reference to the fruity ones. So I thought I was mistaken. So I did a different search and found the original reference. Then it made more sense. The problem with memory loss is when you recall something is it something you lost that’s coming back or some other reference? My accident was around the same time as the oompas were discontinued. Since then I knew I like chocolate and peanut butter together. At the time Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were prohibitively priced. The Peanut Butter Cups I found at Walmart we’re pretty good and were purchased on several occasions. I don’t think the accident and the determination to discontinue the oompas had anything to do with each other. I don’t remember if I bought that many packages myself, but I remember now I have them available almost constantly. Reese’s Pieces are good on their own as are M&Ms peanut butter. Although I don’t recommend eating them too close to one another. I ate some Reese’s Pieces the other day and followed them up with some peanut butter M&Ms. Affect of the taste of the two nauseated me to a small extent. So I always remember to eat them separately. My feelings for people who made the decision to discontinue the oompas were the evil Bean counters. They’re the people who seem to want to take over the world from behind the scenes. You see them in every company, and they’re the ones that say we’re not making enough money on that product or service, and decide to discontinue it. And fortunately some companies decide that the bean counters were wrong. The bean counters are probably the extra nerdy little suckers that even us nerdy people picked on. So in Revenge they find things we like and discontinued them. I’m just pleased that there are so many people who remember the original oompas. I’m glad that it wasn’t a false recollection. I also played with making my own candies for a while and still do on occasion. My favorite combinations were mostly chocolate and peanut butter. I remember the original oompas very fondly and I’m saddened that I couldn’t find them. The candies I made where not hard candy coated but it would be interesting to see how closely my recipe came to the oompas recipe. I saw I’m sorry that this post was so long-winded. For all those people who have people who think they’re crazy because they remember oompas, I remember them to but don’t expect to have that used as a barometer for my sanity. Then again, I don’t except a label of crazy from anyone who works in the area of some of the highest suicide rates like doctors. So keep hollering app Nestle’s to bring back the peanut butter oompas. Hopefully they’ll fire the Bean Counter and bring oompas back. With all the internet sources of goodies I’m surprised that someone somewhere didn’t get in touch with Nestle’s offering to be an online source for them. If I have an online business I do it myself. Hell, if Nestle’s would bring them back I start my own online business to distribute them. Assuming that I did not eat all my profits.

  22. Flu-Bird says:

    I could’nt get enough of these these were great part chocolate part peanut butter

  23. Kjkz says:

    A friend and I loved the oompass! Can you still get them anywhere? Some companies have something like it but they’re not the same. Let me know if I can buy them any place.

  24. KJKZ says:

    Are these still around? Are they ever going to bring them back and put them on shelves? I hope so because they are wonderful!

  25. LHS says:

    Reese’s Pieces never quite hit the mark but the Peanut Butter M&M’s taste EXACTLY like original Peanut Butter Oompas! Good job.

  26. Mommalaughing says:

    still miss oompas. I mean come on, here I am researching it, hoping they’d been revived. Hoping…maybe…they actually still made them in England, since I’m here visiting. No such luck.what a bummer. Oompas were my favorite candy and there’s never been another even remotely like them.

  27. Anna Wilmot says:

    Bring back oompas please. They were so good. The peanut butter and chocolate ones.

    • Bill Dyment says:

      As a kid of 10ish, the original peanut butter Oompas were my favorite candy of all time! Similar, subsequent products by others couldn’t hold a candle to their quality and taste. I was very sad when they were discontinued. Not a real fan of fruit candies–to each his/her own, but the first Oompas were amazing-I felt as if I had just finished a tour of the Chocolate Factory!

      Bring them back!

      Great article!

  28. Brigitte B says:

    I sure wish they would bring back the peanut butter/chocolate Oompas!! They were the best candy! I loved them!

  29. Vicki Keller says:

    Please bring back the the willy Wonka oompas candy. Withe the peanut butter n chocolate inside. It was my favorite candy in the 70s. I’ve been searching for them. They were soooooo good. Can I order any?thank u Vicki Keller

    • Jason Liebig says:

      Hi Vicky,

      Like you, I’d love to see Oompas make a comeback, but it seems less and less likely. The company hasn’t produced Oompas in about 35 years, so I’d be surprised if they still had the equipment or recipes to do so.

      But I’ve never given up hope.


  30. Lisa says:

    I think they should bring back Oompas with the new Wonka movie coming out. What have they got to lose?

  31. M-E Freeman says:

    Oompas were the absolute best!! The peanut butter was better than Reese’s or peanut butter M&Ms. And the combination of the chocolate and peanut butter was awesome!!

    Seriously wish they would bring them back!!

  32. M-E says:

    Oompas were the absolute best!! The peanut butter was better than Reese’s or peanut butter M&Ms. And the combination of the chocolate and peanut butter was awesome!!

    Seriously wish they would bring them back!!

  33. Debbie L says:

    Best thing ever. Thanks for bringing back the memories! Now we just need to bring back the candy!! I’m in!

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