24 March 2015

Rare (and counterfeit) PEZ dispensers

An article in Playboy details the sinister workings of the PEZ dispenser black market:
The tiny sugar bricks emerged in 1927 as adult breath mints, invented in Austria by Eduard Haas III. The name Pez comes from the German word Pfefferminz—peppermint. In 1948 Haas, a clean freak, introduced the “easy, hygienic dispenser.” In 1952 the Austrian hired Curtis Allina, a former spy who had operated for the Allies inside the Birkenau concentration camp, to bring the product to America... When the mints bombed, the Pez company put Mickey Mouse and Popeye heads on the dispensers and retargeted them at children. Bingo. By the 1990s, baby boomers who’d grown up with Pez had turned the dispensers into collector’s items...

Auctioneers at Christie’s in New York put aside Picassos to sell plastic candy pushers to Pez-heads. Collectors scrambled for rejects and prototypes such as the failed “Make-a-Face” dispenser, worth $3,000 because its small parts were deemed a choking hazard, and the coveted Coko Pez, an ill-advised blackface character...

During more than 70 wild missions to Europe, he persuaded factory workers to sell him priceless dead-stock dispensers and bribed factory bosses to make him kooky rejects, which he then sold for up to $500 each...

They paid less than a quarter for each rare Thumper the Rabbit and Wile E. Coyote dispenser, worth up to $75 apiece back in the U.S...
More at the link about the strange "war" between the company and those working the black market.

The embedded image is a screencap I took of recent eBay listings.  Note these are completed sales, not asking prices.  I thought the fad had died out ages ago, didn't know it was still a thing.


  1. My eight year old grandson just started collecting Pez dispensers. This will be some fun information to share with him.

  2. They remind me so much to my childhood. I always thought Pez was a Spanish brand. Thank for the info!

  3. I grew up just a couple of miles away from the Pez company in Orange, Connecticut. The sad twist of fate is I didn't know how close I lived to the company that made one of my favorite candies until a few years after my family moved to another state.


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