In 1947 one of the most recognizable candy’s hit the market with an unusual target demographic. The Pez assortment character dispensers that are now seen as unique collectibles were actually made to look like cigarette lighters – with the intention to help adults curve smoking habits.
Austrian confectioner named Eduard Haas III gave the Pez its name based off of the German word for peppermint, “Ppferrerminze”. P, E, Z, taking the first, middle, and ending letters to create PEZ. This brick-shaped candy also started in a rounded, mint shape and was called a ‘Pez Drop’ and was manufactured in small tins.
This unique mint candy quickly shifted its marketing strategy from the ‘Pez Girls’ advertisements to more of a child’s candy when American kids in the 1950s fell in love with the little candies.
In 1952 the candy set up shop in New York City and filed for its first patent on the unique dispensers we are all used to seeing. The Halloween Witch became the very first traditional character (1957) followed by Popeye being the first licensed character (1958).
From here the assortment of characters rapidly expanded. In 1984 a major update changed the Pez design forever. The addition of small tabs or ‘feet’ on the bottom of the dispensers not only helps the dispensers to sit upright but also gives the design an additional appeal.
The brand kept expanding from TV sitcom features (Seinfeld) and the first major Pez convention taking place in Mentor, Ohio in 1991.
Flash forward to the modern-day, Pez has a Connecticut-based visitor center to give Pez fanatics the full, Pez experience.