‘I’ve never seen anyone like them before,’ Charlie said. ‘Of course not,’ Mr Wonka answered. ‘They’re Oompa-Loompas.’
"'I've never seen anyone like them before,' Charlie said. 'Of course not,' Mr Wonka answered. 'They're Oompa-Loompas.'" - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Oompa-Loompas feature in two of Roald Dahl's stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - which has since been adapted for two films, an opera and a stage musical - and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
The Oompa-Loompas are from Loompaland, which Mr Wonka describes as a terrible place. "Nothing but thick jungles infested by the most dangerous beasts in the world - hornswogglers and snozzwangers and those terrible wicked whangdoodles," he tells Charlie Bucket and the other Golden Ticket winners.
Loompaland is such a terrible place that when Mr Wonka invited the Ooompa-Loompas to come back to his Chocolate Factory, they leapt at the chance. Now they live and work there, helping Mr Wonka with his experiments and generally keeping his Chocolate Factory going.
The Oompa-Loompas enjoy singing and dancing. They're always making up songs. Their favourite food is the cacao bean, the central ingredient in a bar of chocolate, and in the Wonka Factory they have access to as many cacao beans as they could possibly wish for.
In the original book, the Oompa-Loompas are described as little people with long hair. The iconic visual representation of them having orange skin and green hair comes from the 1971 film adaptation.
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall…
The Oompa-Loompas 1
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory