Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How PEZ Changed the World

OK, so maybe the title's a little dramatic, but as some of you may already know, I have quite the affinity for PEZ dispensers. Yes, those little candy dispensers with cute heads on them that tilt back and deliver pellets of fruity sweetness. I'm actually not a huge fan of the candy anymore, but I do love the dispensers themselves. So much so that I have quite a collection - that I am still figuring out the best way to display. Sadly, they live in boxes most of the time, waiting for their day to brighten my living space. But periodically I let them come out to play to relive a piece of my childhood.

See, growing up we would always get PEZ dispensers for the holidays. Easter, Christmas, Halloween, etc. And even today I pride myself on unwrapping the candy, extending the slider, and single-handedly placing the whole pack of candy into the slider in one fell swoop. But it's the act of pulling back the head and having that little candy pellet pop out, that just brings the innocence and delight of my childhood back every time.

I'm not as diligent about my collection as I once was. Serious PEZ collectors are an intense bunch, who ravage flea markets and estate sales at the chance of the rare footless classics, let alone coming upon a rubber head or full-body! Those are worth hundreds, depending on the economy and time of year. And eBay - well, forget about it. Because, those techie geeks who know their stuff are well-aware that eBay was publicized as being started for the creator's fiancee so that she could trade PEZ dispensers. Apparently this was simply a PR rumor started to create media buzz, which makes me sad. However, it still stands true that eBay is a huge market for all kinds of PEZ dispensers. It's how I've been able to get dispensers only available in Canada, Europe, and Japan to add to my collection.

So really, back to my title. What would the world do without eBay?

The point of this post was not, in fact to talk about my collection or even the beginnings of internet addictions. Instead, I wanted to pay tribute a very key man at the PEZ company who who passed away last week, Curtis Allina. He was the one responsible for directing the company away from the uninteresting peppermint dispensers imitating cigarette lighters (because after you smoke you need a mint, of course), to marketing the product to children by adding heads (well, bodies to begin with) and making fruity candies. In other words, the man who gave me a candy and a toy that added just a little more joy to my childhood. A toy that, as an adult, I can now look at and be taken back to that happy, innocent place. So thank you, Mr. Allina; in a way you will live on forever.

I'll point you to the NY Times article, which is an interesting read (even if they don't write the company name with all caps, as is trademarked and preferred amongst its devotees). And maybe one day when I've gotten all my dispensers out to be admired, I can share some of that happiness with you all.

Also, here's the link to the official PEZ site. For some reason the USA version has nothing on it, so choose somewhere else, such as Canada for a much more interesting experience.


Liz said...

So I found this place online called displays2go.com and they have a huge variety of displays. I think they're rather pricey but then I found it a great starting point. Once I knew what I wanted then I could go to ebay and get the same thing for much cheaper... :) just in case you need to have display options for Pez.

vivzan said...

So, the wall-e in your hand is a PEZ dispenser??

I had no idea you were into PEZ. I hope you find a way to display them. Perhaps you can build a display box?

I used to love the candy and that act of pulling back the head. I loved how efficient it was. Such a joy, isn't it?

Last year, someone bought some PEZ candy and I was appalled at how awful it tasted. I used to buy this stuff by the pack to eat. Ugggggh!!! Don't get me started on how our childhood candy now tastes like crap.


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