Viral Wonka Experience Backdrop Sold to Benefit Palestine Aid


The Scottish “Willy’s Chocolate Experience” that went viral at the end of February has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving — and this time, it’s for a good cause. Last week, the Glasgow record store Monorail Music forwarded £2,250 (~$2,862) in proceeds to the London-based organization Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) by auctioning off the original discarded backdrops from the strange event.

The record store announced the auction on its social media accounts on March 7, two weeks after Willy’s Chocolate Experience took the internet by storm through its comically disappointing outcome and AI-generated advertising that drew the ire of families and left children in tears. Two plastic backdrops consisting of CandyLand-esque illustrated landscapes (allegedly sourced from Temu) as well as a striped fabric sheet for the event’s made-up “Time Tunnel” were “rescued from the bin” outside of the Box Hub venue after the event was shut down, the record store’s post said.

The shop included a tongue-in-cheek ChatGPT caption for the lot that said the backdrops were “a great conversation starter and an ideal collectible for enthusiasts,” and urged bidders not to miss out on “this rare opportunity to own a piece of history.”

Hyperallergic has contacted the event’s producers, House of Illuminati, to verify the authenticity of the sold items.

The auction was up for a week and garnered 57 bids before closing on March 14, with the winner securing the lot for over £2,000. While live-blogging the final minutes of the auction, Monorail Music wrote that the penultimate bid was under £1,000 (~$1,272), which musician Ben Howard reportedly managed to double at the last second.

Moved by the gesture, MAP’s Chief Executive Officer Melanie Ward tagged the shop in a post on X after the sale concluded, expressing gratitude for the support and hoping that the “winner of these golden ticket items” was pleased with their purchase. The British nonprofit provides medical services in the Occupied West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon, according to its website, and “advocates for Palestinians’ rights to health and dignity.”

It’s not the first time a “prop” from the experience has hit the market for a philanthropic cause. At the beginning of March, Box Hub auctioned off the iconic hand-painted “Event Cancelled by House of Illuminati” cardboard sign on eBay for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, which went for £840 (~$1,069). Others are commemorating the iconic PR disaster with their own merchandise, from mugs and shirts to greeting cards and even themed events riffing off House of Illuminati’s pitiful offerings.





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