Podcast Question of the Week – Episode 42

Chapter Five introduces Harry to the entrepreneurship of Fred and George, much to their mother’s woe.

In this chapter, Fred and George are revealed (to Harry) to have constructed an entire line of special treats, and to have completely invented their own style of items, such as gag wands. How do they do this? How do the fake wands work? What is the magic behind Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and how did Fred and George figure out how to do it?

Let us know your thoughts below and they just might be read out on the next episode of Alohomora!

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  • NightStrike91

    I imagine there is a lot of transfiguration involved. Now, I can’t remember if we ever hear anything about how good the twins are at Transfiguration, but if I had to guess I would say it was their best subject. As Molly said in chapter 5, it’s not like they don’t have any brains, they are quite clever but I think they need motivation. They probably figured out that they would need to be able to transfigure, as many jokes involve something looking like something it isn’t.

    When they have that motivation to learn something, I think they paid more attention in Transfiguration and got tips and tricks from Professor McGonagall herself. How ironic!

    • Jake Pontzer

      I think it’s Transfiguration at a pretty basic level, actually, at least with the fake wand; it was a rubber mouse to begin with and was made to look like a wand until someone touched it. As to how Fred and George made it so it would only turn if someone ELSE touched it, I have no idea. But I can imagine it would be a simple spell to teach an inanimate object when to transfigure itself (are the rubber mouses ALIVE??) (I miss Noah..)

      The twins probably had to do a lot more of their own experimenting with their treats like the Ton-Tongue Toffee. But this is probably not too complicated either; it’s perfectly reasonable to expect there to be a potion that swells a body part, or that makes the consumer puke, or that causes them to break out in puss-filled boils.

      These potions were probably intended for medical use (as these effects seem like they could be side-effects from medication). How were Fred and George able to obtain these? Maybe they took them from Snape’s storage room, or even from the Hospital wing? If either of these cases are true, does it make these snacks Illegal?

      And if Fred and George were only 16 at this point, where did they make these novelty items? Hogwarts would be the only place, since they aren’t allowed to perform magic outside of school until they turn 17 in a few months.

      • wicca

        We know that at least some of their experiments are done at home, but in practice, the Trace wouldn’t apply to the twins, so it’s not a plot-hole.

        • Jake Pontzer

          I meant actually creating the items… At least some spell work was probably required so they couldn’t do it at home, if my assumption is correct.

          • wicca

            I’m sure there was a lot of spellwork involved, but there was nothing stopping them from doing it at home, because the Ministry would have no way of knowing. We recently discussed this at some length on the forums, in Goblet of Fire. Check it out.

          • Jake Pontzer

            Oh oh that’s right, I just thought about the adults in the house doing magic, sorry,

  • Alx

    I believe that they have been tricksters their whole life. As first-years they probably used flattery on teachers to obtain knowledge (much like Harry on Slughorn) and eventually they were able to use exceptional magic and transfiguration to make money and fun.

  • wicca

    Gag wands have been around for a long time, Fred and George didn’t invent them. I imagine that they are imbued with some kind of Transfiguration spell and perhaps a spell or substance that works as a catalyst when the wand is picked up. I don’t think this is particularly advanced magic, but it likely requires some skill. This technique (or some version of it) is probably taught in Transfiguration at Hogwarts and they’ve simply applied it to some of their products.

    There are joke shops in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, so maybe the twins learned a thing or two by taking apart and studying the items that they bought there. Maybe the owners of those shops shared some of their knowledge and gave them some advice.

  • Pig-desk

    The twins are using many different types of magic from transformation to potions. In order to thoroughly hypothesize all the different possibilities one wouldn’t need to write several essays. In regards to the wand, I don’t think it’s transfiguration. Transfiguration would suggest they turned something into a wand which would only look like a wand and have no magical abilities. I think it’s more logical to assume the wand is made in the same way today’s toy makers make electronic toys, they are given a few buttons and a few responses.

    As for the wand it could be programmed with several magic spells one being a transfiguration spell and other preset silly spells.

    How this would work? My thought is, when the magic of a Witch or Wizard passes through the wand it enacts one of the predetermined spells causing hilarious havoc.

    I love the show,

    Magic Thanx
    Pig-desk

  • mudbloodandproud1996

    To me, Fred and George figuring out how to make their products reminds me of Sirius, James, and Peter in their 5th year when they investigated how to turn into animagi. They might have researched the “science” behind what magic may turn tongues larger, and use that magic to make their ton-tongue toffees. i imagine that the fake wands would work by having some sort of transfiguration spell placed upon it. i think that the main magic behind all things that Fred and George created are either charms, transfiguration spells, or some sort of potion that can react with certain chemicals in the body.
    Much like Sirius and James, I think that the twins paid a little bit more attention in school that year!

  • Jane

    I think the gag wands are a type of transfiguration/charms spell or something to do with ancient runes. We don’t know if Fred and George did Ancient Runes, so maybe the mix of transfiguration/charms is more likely. It would work by having someone wave the wand with a certain intent and then the ‘wand’ would change back to it’s original shape.

    I think most of their toy products use spells or runes while their edible products use mostly potions. With their dad being obsessed with muggles, I think that the twins got some inspiration with some muggle chemistry. E.g. Acids and bases.

  • HallowsMaster97

    Well, I agree with many of the comments saying that transfiguration would be required with objects such as the fake wands and fanged Frisbees.
    I imagine that they would have to be good potion makers with products such as their love potions, the skiving snack boxes, and the famous U-NO-POO.

    Also, a lot of charms, spells and hexes were involved, which would have been accessible from the Hogwarts library or with help from some of the teachers (I’m sure a lot of the teachers helped them out despite the amount of trouble they caused).
    While some of their products can be made using basic spells, there is obviously some advanced magic involved. One of the items that really intrigues me is the canary creams. They transfigure a person ( advanced transfiguration) and it sort of reminded me of the poly juice potion and the accident Hermione had in their second year. Did Fred and George manage to find a way of using polyjuice potion to their advantage with the canary creams? ( unlikely, as the potion is illegal)
    I think that Fred and George are quite clever really.

  • DolphinPatronus

    I think the twins are far more clever than they are given credit for by the adults around them. (which if I recall correctly is mentioned later in the series) I believe that they do actually retain what they’ve learned in lessons but don’t get good grades by choice because they’re too busy having fun to worry about doing well in class. I have no doubt that there is plenty of magic we as readers haven’t been shown & have always assumed that Fred & George just used various potions & spells that we never learned about to create the products they developed.

  • suprememugwump

    While I do think (like most of you) that Transfiguration would be required for the wands, I’ve always seen Transfiguration as a more permanent kind of change, difficult to switch back and forth. So, what about some kind of Concealment Charm? Start with a rubber mouse and place a charm on it so that it looks and feels like a wand. Then, set up a touch-sensitive trigger that cancels the spell so the wand “turns into” a rubber mouse. This kind of spell would be a simpler version of the kind of stuff Aurors have to learn for their exam (we know Tonks does really well on the Concealment portion of her exam since she’s a Metamorphmagus). Whatever it is, the wands would involve at least three spells–the Transfiguration/Concealment, the trigger and the cancellation of the original spell–pretty complex magic!

    As for how the twins manage to invent all their stuff–I think they just pay more attention than people think they do in class and are really smart about extending and applying that knowledge to their products. For example, the Skiving Snackboxes seem like controlled doses of toxin and antidote. We know Snape focuses on toxins and antidotes in sixth year, which the twins would have completed just before coming to Grimmauld Place, where we see them sneaking Doxy eggs and Wartcap powder (from the box that bites Sirius). Perhaps Potions class gave them the idea for the Snackboxes. As they get more into the business, maybe they research, but I definitely don’t think they started out that way.

  • FredWeasleysGhost

    Gred and Forge (as we all know they are called) shopped at Zonko’s a lot. I think that from an early age, they would have been trying to figure out how these gags work, since they are such amazing pranksters. Since we know certain spells reveal things, like Snape using a spell on the twins (now Harry’s) map in POA to try to make it reveal it’s contents, maybe the twins were able to use a spell like that on the things they’d bought from Zonko’s to figure out how they were made. That would give them the basic information to build off of, and help them figure out how to improve them and make things up all on their own. The Weasley twins are incredibly smart and devious. I feel like anything they set their mind to, they could create.

    • DolphinPatronus

      I LOVE this idea! I can totally see the twins trying to essentially take apart the gags they’ve gotten at Zonko’s. It reminds me of Arthur & his tinkering with & dissecting all things muggle.

  • Olivia Cantrell

    I’m sure that there is some basic transfiguration is involved as well but I am also sure that there is some sort of potions work going on, especially for things like the puking pastils. For things like the filibusters wet start fireworks I am guessing that there was some sort of charming going on. The only thing that makes me really wonder is the fact that they never seem like they are taking in what goes on in the classroom. They don’t really take the actual academics serious (like the tests, and exams, O.W.L.s, ect.) but at the same time they obviously must be learning something. I believe that they just practically apply school by incorporating what they have learned in the classroom into their Wheezes. They are obviously smarter than they appear on the surface for a couple reasons. One because I don’t think just anyone could be creative or ingenious enough to figure out the magic used in their jokes and two because they have to have some some basic elementary knowledge of business in order to make their shop successful (which I don’t think is a subject taught at Hogwarts). The magic itself can’t be THAT complicated if two drop outs were able to figure it out (even if they are Fred and George) but there is something even more magical about their wheezes. Just like the magic in the books goes beyond just the magic I think thats how they are able to use simple charms, potions, and transfiguration in order to start a business. I know I’m jumping ahead a little bit in the story line but I think that these tricks are two boys applying what they have learned in school and books in a cleaver and practical way. This also may be the teacher in me that just hopes students are applying what they learn in school to the “real world” but I think Fred and George are more clever than we give them credit for.