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Willy Wonka's fantasy gum -- tomato soup, anyone? -- may hit check-out stands by 2012

January 10, 2011 | 10:52 am

Willy Wonka 

Look out, Violet Beauregarde. Bompas & Parr, the British culinary wunderkinds known for staging astonishing food events -- including a lake made from fruit punch and a culinary scratch-and-sniff meal -– said it was planning to roll out a flavor-changing chewing gum inspired by "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's" infamous three-course meal.

The chefs, who have been experimenting with this project for months, have been working with food scientists to see how they can use microcapsules to release different flavors over time as people chew their gum, according to an interview with Sam Bompas in

Bompas told the online trade magazine that his company had already created two prototypes: One starts out tasting like strawberry, then shifts to chocolate; another shifts from passionfruit to -- wait for it -- foie gras.

That’s right. Foie gras.

How does it work? Bompas said they’re working with something called “colloidosomes” or “putting particles (in our case flavorings) inside water droplets, and then suspending the droplets in oil containing the colloid particles.” These microcapsules can break apart when they come into contact with saliva -- as well as through the friction of chewing.

So, Bompas reportedly said, the key to Wonka’s dream meal may rest in how vigorously a person chomps on his -- or her -- gum: perhaps a leisurely chew for a taste of tomato-soup flavor, a more rapid pace for the roast beef and potato flavors -- and a hard smacking for a mouthful of blueberry pie.

Bompas told that their meal-in-a-bite gum is tentatively slated to be released by 2012.

-- P.J. Huffstutter

Photo: a scene from the 2005 movie version of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Credit: Peter Mountain / Warner Bros. Entertainment