Z is another tricky letter in the April A to Z Challenge, especially when the theme is a bit narrow when it comes to that letter. The world of Harry Potter has just a few options that begin with the letter Z, and they are very minor characters – like Zacharias Smith and Blaise Zabini. They aren’t explored in much detail at all. The only Z that I can think of to write on is a joke shop that was once the favorite haunt of many Hogwarts students, including the chief mischief-making dynamic duo of Fred and George Weasley.
Zonko’s Joke Shop was located in Hogsmeade, so any student of Hogwarts from third year onward could visit it and procure joke merchandise. These included things like Dungbombs and Sugar Quills. The joke shop is mentioned quite a few times in the series. It is quite famous, and even Remus Lupin uses the name to dismiss the Marauder’s Map as not dangerous, even though he knew what the map really was.
There is a possibility that the joke shop also took orders from the students of Hogwarts by owl order, as Argus Filch, the caretaker of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was tipped off by someone that a student was sending an owl-post order for dungbombs in the fourth book. It leads to the scene where Filch confronts Harry who was sending a letter, and Cho comes to Harry’s defence.
Another instance that Zonko’s is remembered for is when Fred and George Weasley, its former patrons, try to buy the shop for a Hogsmeade branch of Weasley Wizarding Wheezes. Though mentioned only fleetingly, it served to show that Fred and George had become hugely successful as entrepreneurs and their success enabled them to even contemplate such an idea.
It is not known what happened to the shop after the Dark times in books 6 and 7. But I still hope that Zonko’s became the Hogsmeade branch of WWW. It would have been a big achievement for George and something that would have brought Fred’s spirit a lot of happiness and peace.
(© 30th April 2016)