The Pez Empire

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.

Offensive Forks

Let’s take a step back from everything we are accustomed to and travel back to the 10th Century when forks first came to be.

As the story goes, the wife of Roman Emperor Otto II, Theophanu Byzantine introduced this tool to the Roman Empire and by the 14th Century merchants were using and trading this handy utensil as an every meal staple to be paired with a knife throughout Italy. She was noted to have used a golden fork to eat at her wedding to the Roman Emperor.

Despite the rapid surge in fork usage, British men mocked the utensil calling it a “Feminine Affectation of Italians”.

Then this snowballed into a larger religious conspiracy-the thought was that people were given ‘natural forks’ from God (fingers). During this time eating with hands, and knifes was most common calling forks an insult to God. So naturally after God into the argument, people were confused as to whether or not to use forks. Then when Theophanu Byzantine died from the plague reforming Benedictine monk Saint Peter Damian said that her death was brought on by her sinful behavior, and vanity. Yes, we’re talking about using forks.

Still, vane or not the use of forks spread throughout Europe and forks were continued to be used by monarchs, Catherine de Medici had even brought a silver set of forks from Italy to France which only boosted the exposure to forks.

The Catholic church still wasn’t on board with the whole fork-thing and they pushed back explaining that this was pure vanity, and sinful. Having such an excessive delicacy was seen to be outrages.

By the mid 1800’s the fork was widely used in the American colonies and the population had learned to use their left hands in eating with silverware. Before this the normal eating process was to spear food and use teeth to tear it into pieces so that people would not have to use a knife which made it easy to avoid switch utensils.

Some, like Admiral Nelson, opted for a combination utensil that acted as a holding device, fork and knife. Nelson did however only have one arm…