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"The Candy Man" (or alternatively, "The Candy Man Can") is a song that originally appeared in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the film. Although the original 1964 book by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) contains lyrics adapted for other songs in the film, the lyrics to "The Candy Man" do not appear in the book. The soundtrack version of the song was sung by Aubrey Woods, who played Bill the candy store owner in the film.

Attempt at replacing the Woods vocal

Lyricist Anthony Newley has said in interviews that upon hearing Woods' rendition for the first time, he was appalled at the lack of commerciality in the performance – worrying that it would possibly be depriving the duo of not only a hit record but an Oscar nomination as well.

Newley's distaste for the performance became so intense that he was willing to forego his own performance fee if he were to be allowed to re-arrange and re-record the song himself, and pay for the session as well. When denied by producer David Wolper due to contractual stipulations by film composer Walter Scharf, Newley tried another tactic: lobbying to be allowed to at least re-dub his own vocal, possibly becoming the ghost voice for Woods; however, Woods's contract forbade that as well. Anthony Newley would record his own version for MGM Records in 1971, prior to Sammy Davis Jr.'s hit.

Sammy Davis Jr. version

Quick facts for kids
"The Candy Man"
The Candy Man Sammy Davis Jr.jpg
Single by Sammy Davis Jr.
from the album Sammy Davis Jr. Now
B-side "I Want to Be Happy"
Released April 1972
Recorded August 19, 1971
Studio Los Angeles, California
Genre Vocal jazz, swing, traditional pop
Length 3:10
Label MGM
Songwriter(s) Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley
Producer(s) Don Costa, Michael Viner, Mike Curb
Sammy Davis Jr. singles chronology
"I Have One but One Life to Live"
"The Candy Man"
"The People Tree"

Sammy Davis Jr.'s version appears on the Sammy Davis Jr. Now album. Though Davis admitted to disliking the song, finding it too saccharine, it became his only number 1 hit, spending three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart starting 10 June 1972, and two weeks at the top of the easy-listening chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song for 1972. The track featured backing vocals by the Mike Curb Congregation, who had earlier released their own unsuccessful version of the song. It is recognized as one of Davis's signature songs, and "The Candy Man" came to be his moniker later in his career. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male at the 15th Annual Grammy Awards.

In 2014, Sammy Davis Jr.'s lead vocals from the original 1972 recording were sampled to create a "virtual duet" with singer Barry Manilow, which appeared on Manilow's album My Dream Duets.


The song was recorded by Zedd with help from Grey and Joseph Trapanese.


Chart (2016) Peak
New Zealand Heatseekers (RMNZ) 9
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard) 18
US Hot Dance/Electronic Songs (Billboard) 12

Year-end charts

Chart (2016) Position
US Hot Dance/Electronic Songs (Billboard) 35

Other uses

"The Candy Man" has been featured in a number of radio, films and TV shows after its introduction in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

  • In the 1980s, the tune was adapted as a commercial jingle ("The Sunshine Baker Man", sung by Davis) for Sunshine Biscuits.
  • Sloppy Seconds recorded a cover of the song for their 1989 LP Destroyed.
  • In the animated television series The Simpsons episode "Trash of the Titans", Homer sings "The Garbage Man", a parody. As the Springfield Sanitation Commissioner, Homer sings about all the things the garbage men will do (take the trash out, "stomp it down for you", "shake the plastic bag and do the twisty thingy, too", etc.), assisted by a montage, guest starring U2.
  • In the animated television series Ren and Stimpy episode "Sammy and Me", Sammy Mantis sings "The Mantid Man", a parody about things mantises do ("say his prayers when he's eating lunch", "eat his siblings" etc.).
  • Jennifer Tilly's character, Monica Moran, sings the song in an audition to be a lounge singer in the film The Fabulous Baker Boys.
  • Chris Evans originally played the song on his popular drive time BBC Radio 2 show every Friday afternoon. When he replaced Terry Wogan on the breakfast show in January 2010, he continued to play the tune every Friday morning, immediately following the 8:00 am news until around 2014. The song was also used on a TV trailer, promoting his breakfast show.
  • Danny Baker used the song extensively as a theme during his breakfast show for BBC London 94.9. He would reward listeners who phoned into the show and greeted him as Candy Man. During his time on the show, he amassed a large number of existing versions of the song and commissioned guests such as Ray Gelato to produce new versions. He continued to use the song as a theme tune for his afternoon show on BBC London 94.9 until its cancellation.
  • Elaut used this song as the attract mode for its Candyman claw machines. "I'm the Candyman. Candyman! Hey Candyman!"
  • In an episode of the American TV series My Name Is Earl (season 1, episode 24), Randy Hickey finds a coin in a drain, which is accompanied by an instrumental rendition of "The Candy Man".
  • In an episode of the American TV series Malcolm in the Middle (season 2, episode 13), the song "The Candy Man" was sung by Francis Wilkerson and the other cadets in the episode New Neighbors, and was featured again in the episode Clip Show 2.
  • On Krayzie Bone's 1999 album Thug Mentality 1999, he uses the melody and meter of "Candy Man" for the intro to the song "Dummy Man".
  • Comedian Tim Hawkins released a parody of the song, "The Government Can", in 2009. The video for the song went viral and has garnered over 5.7 million hits on YouTube.
  • M&M Mars used the song from time to time as a jingle for "The M&M's Man". EDM artist Zedd later released his single "Candyman", which samples the original song, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of M&M's candy. An M&M's ad featuring the song shows Red and Yellow trying to remix the "M&M's Man" jingle with help from Zedd and Aloe Blacc.
  • In "New Neighbours", an episode of the American TV series Malcolm in the Middle, Commandant Spangler makes the cadets sing the song to impress his hero, Oliver North.
  • The Kidsongs singers include this song in their 1986 video "What I Want to Be".
  • Rockapella sang their own version of the song on February 9, 2016 in honor of Valentine's Day.
  • In the DreamWorks Animation movie Madagascar, the song was used twice – the first was in normal speed when Alex the lion is tranquilized at Grand Central Station, then again at a faster speed when he is tranquilized again before being placed in a box.
  • In the Blue Sky Studios film Ice Age: Continental Drift, Manny sings this song when he realizes his crew are about to be attacked by Sirens.
  • Launa Windows, a company based in Devon, England, used the song's melody to advertise their company on UK television in the early 2000s. Its lyrics include, "Who can fix your windows, make your home secure? The Launa Man can."
  • The Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory features Willy Wonka singing this song at the top of the show, just as he disguises himself as a candy store owner.
  • In 2014, the funk metal band Primus covered "The Candy Man" for their album Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble. The album is a psychedelic re-imagining of the soundtrack for the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.


Region Certification Sales
United States (RIAA) Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

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