A boy named Augustus Gloop, an extremely fat nine-year-old boy, finds the first Golden Ticket the following day. In the newspaper interview, his mother says proudly that she knew Augustus would find one because he eats so many candy bars a day, since eating is his hobby. The Buckets are repulsed by this boy and his family, and wonder who will find the remaining four Golden Tickets.
The entire country begins buying candy like crazy in the desperate search to find the Golden Tickets. A famous scientist insists that he has invented a machine that can detect Golden Tickets inside chocolate bars without opening them, but after the machine grabbed hold of a woman's gold tooth filling instead, it was smashed by the crowd.
On the day before Charlie's birthday, a rich girl named Veruca Salt finds the second Golden Ticket. Veruca's father owns a peanut-shelling factory, so when Veruca announced that she wanted to find a Golden Ticket, he bought a huge supply of Wonka bars and had his factory workers start shelling off their wrappers instead. After a few days, they found one at last. The Buckets are once again displeased with this spoiled child and her family, and Charlie does not think they played the game fairly.
The next morning is Charlie's birthday, and he wakes up to his present: a Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight bar. Everyone watches in anticipation as he begins to open it, though Mrs. Bucket reminds him not to be disappointed if the ticket is not there. His grandparents remind him that no matter what happens, he still has the delicious bar of candy. At last Charlie opens it... but there is no Golden Ticket to be found. Charlie is upset, but tries to share the candy with everyone else. They refuse, however, since it is his birthday present, and he heads off to school.
Two more Golden Tickets are found that day, the third by a girl named Violet Beauregarde who is a compulsive gum-chewer. When she heard about the contest, she switched from gum to candy bars, then once she found the ticket she switched right back to gum. In her interview, she talks about how she has been chewing one piece of gum for three months straight, beating the record set by her best friend Cornelia Prinzmetel.
A boy named Mike Teavee, who spends all his time watching television, particularly violent shows, finds the fourth ticket. As they read about Mike Teavee, Grandma Georgina asks whether all children these days are spoiled brats like the four who have found Golden Tickets. They assume that the final ticket will also go to a beastly child who does not deserve it.
The next day when Charlie gets home from school, Grandpa Joe has a secret surprise waiting for him. He gives Charlie a ten-cent piece, his secret hoard, to go buy another candy bar so they can have another shot at finding a ticket. Charlie is reluctant to use it at first, but Grandpa Joe convinces him, and he runs to the store and buys a Wonka's Nutty Crunch Surprise bar. Excited, they open it slowly... but once again there is nothing in there but the candy bar.
These chapters focus on the Golden Ticket hunt, introducing the four children who will soon become main characters. Each of these children is rotten in a different way: Augustus is a glutton, eating his life away; Veruca is spoiled and ungrateful; Violet has developed an obnoxious gum-chewing habit; and Mike wastes his childhood in front of the television, watching violent shows. Each child embodies a different form of greed, and the negative effect of greediness is a major theme of this story.
When juxtaposed, or compared, against Charlie, a kind boy from humble backgrounds, these children seem even more horrifying. They highlight Charlie's good qualities. Charlie is always trying to help out his family and care for his grandparents, and never complains about their poverty. Even on his birthday, Charlie tries to share his only chocolate bar with everyone else. There is a very clear difference between these other four children and Charlie, and the rest of the story will continue to explore this difference.
Like most authors, Roald Dahl took great care when choosing names for his characters, and this is especially evident in the names of the four Golden Ticket finders. "Augustus Gloop" is a heavy, clunky name, large like the boy himself. "Veruca Salt" sounds uppity and high-class. Violet's name does not appear at first to have significance, but it actually foreshadows her fate later on in the book. And Mike Teavee's last name is self-explanatory. All of these names suit the characters that have them and really emphasize the vices that make them so horrendous.
The passages describing the four children, however, also hint that their parents are largely to blame for their undesirable traits. The parents appear to encourage their children's abominable behavior. Mrs. Gloop mistakenly thinks that her son's constant eating is a result of a lack of nutrients, so she allows it. Veruca's father indulges even her most ridiculous requests. Violet's mother is not firm enough with her, and Mike's parents do nothing to stop him from wasting away in front of the television. After hearing about each child, the Buckets criticize their parents for allowing them to become like this.
With each passing chapter, Grandpa Joe is distanced more and more from the rest of the grandparents and established as a best friend and mentor figure to Charlie. He and Charlie share a special bond, and this is especially clear when he gives Charlie the only money he has saved up to buy a Wonka bar. Grandpa Joe and Charlie share the same optimism, but at the same time, Grandpa Joe ensures that he is there for Charlie to lean on in the very real case that he is disappointed and does not find a ticket.
There is repeated foreshadowing to suggest that Charlie actually will find a Golden Ticket. The grandparents constantly talk about how another beastly, ungrateful child will probably find the final ticket; Grandma Georgina ends Chapter 8 by saying just that. But Charlie has tried twice already and failed to find one; these attempts heighten the suspense, as readers wonder if—and when—Charlie will finally get lucky.