Collecting Pez Dispensers

PEZ is one of the most hotly traded toy collectible. There is even a name for the collectors "Pez-heads". PEZ collecting is all about collecting heads. Hinged heads of the well loved childhood characters such as Spiderman and Bugs Bunny. The PEZ containers were filled with tiny fruit candies.

History - Date Your PEZ Dispenser

PEZ History

PEZ has a long history. The candy was invented by a food company executive, Edurd Haas, in Vienna, Austria, in 1927. A compressed burst of peppermint flavour. PEZ was shorthand for the German word for peppermint. And in the early years, PEZ was a candy sold to adults as an alternative to smoking. The candy was packaged in rectangular pocket tins.

!In 1948 the PEZ Haas Company came up with the first version of their unique PEZ Box. It was designed to look like a slim cigarette lighter and it was about 3 inches tall and had a little thumb grip to pull back the hinged top. PEZ advertisements from the 1940's and 1950's featured a line drawing of a cigarette girl with a pillbox hat offering what was called "the real refreshment form the PEZ=BOX.

The first dispensers did not have character heads, and, headless PEZ-boxes are known as "regulars" by PEZ collectors.

In 1952, PEZ-Haas opened an office in New York City. It was at this time that the company came up the idea of using character heads and fruit-flavoured candies to appeal to the children's market.

The first character dispenser was full body Santa Claus, produced in the mid 1950's. Unlike most all later character dispensers, in which the stem is simply a rectangular cartridge, the first Santa's body was very detailed, sporting black boots, red coat and "PEZ" emblazoned across his chest.The next full body dispenser was Space Trooper and it came in solid colors ranging from gold to fire engine red and depicted a robot like spaceman.

The rest of the 1950's saw only a few characters their hinged heads perched on a rectangular PEZ Box. These earlier characters included: another Santa, the Easter Bunny, a Halloween witch, an astronaut and PEZ's first licensed character, Popeye.

PEZ began to expand its line of characters greatly in the 1960's . Along with Popeye, some the earliest licensed characters were Bozo the Clown, Casper the Freindly Ghost and Mickey Mouse. It wasn't long after this that PEZ was into producing a full line of Disney character from cartoons and movies including such dispensers as Jiminy Crickety, Snow White Bimbo and Tinker bell.

PEZ came up with a unique line of characters in the 60's the PEZ Pals. These were 18 characters that had a smiling head with large jug ears and came with interchangeable hair pieces, collars, moustaches and hats. The most memorable character of this group was a boy with removable hair. A little comic was produced for him called "Pezi, Ace Detective." The Pezi comics, which are collectible as well, were given away with the PEZ dispensers and candy sets.

Some of the more popular PEZ Pals are the Maharajah, the Nurse, The Policeman who came with a blue stem and blue police hat. The most prized of the PEZ Pals are the Bride and Groom.

Throughout the 1960's and 1970's PEZ continued to follow pop culture and trends. In the late 1960's PEZ made a Psychedelic Eye dispenser which capitalized on hippies and as a :head" had a hand holding an eyeball. It came with various psychedelic stickers on the sides that read: Luv PEZ, mod PEZ and "Go Go Pez. In the 70's we saw the Bicentennial series featuring nine all American dispensers, including a white bearded Uncle Sam, and Daniel Boone.

In 1973, PEZ moved from New York City to Orange, Connecticut and came up with another two lines of dispensers. These were very detailed rubber headed dispensers. The Soft Head Super Heroes Batman, Bat girl, Wonder Woman, the Penquin and the Joker and the Eerie Spectres, a group of PEZ created spooks with names like Diabolic, Zombie and Scarewolf. The 70's also brought a line of big trucks which have functional wheels and featured for heads different cabs.

In the 80's PEZ strongly focused on licensed characters, making all new Garfield, Smurf and Loony Tunes lines,.

In 1987, the formerly footless dispensers suddenly sprouted two thin plastic feet. '

According to the collectors there are more than 250 character dispensers including whole lines of dispensers including Disney, Star Wars, Flintiness, Peanuts and Garfield to name a few.

Collectors are as interested in purchasing new PEZ characters as they are to acquire the rare, vintage PEZ pieces, some of which have been known to sell for hundreds even thousands of dollars for the rarer ones.

Dating A PEZ

It is sometimes very difficult to determine the exact age of a PEZ dispenser, other than than looking for feet or lack of them. Another indicator is to look at the U.S. patent number on the side of the stem. These patent numbers were issued in the following years:

1952: 2620061

1968: 3410455

1974: 3845882

1976: 3942683

1990: 4966305

Original Parent Drawing Print
Vintage Internet Patents

The patent numbers can give you a rough idea of what decade a dispenser might hail from, they are not entirely reliable because the patent date may extend to other years.

The best way for beginners to learn to date PEZ is to get a good book with examples of variations from different decades .

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