From Popeye the Sailor to Hello Kitty, the curator of the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia has an example of every Pez dispenser ever created in his vast collection. Gary Doss describes how a personal affection for the candy-spitting heads became his life’s work.
How did you become The Pez Guy? My wife Nancy and I have been collecting Pez for 15 years. In 1987, we opened a computer store in Burlingame. One day in 1995, we thought it would be fun to bring in our collection for customers to see. The Pez took over and I haven’t sold a computer in 12 years.
What’s the ultimate in coveted Pez dispensers? The Hope Diamond of Pez, if you will. The rarest of all Pez … the Make-a-Face Pez dispenser. It’s the same idea as a Mr. Potato Head. The Pez world can only account for 45 that still exist. They were very quickly pulled off the market in 1972 because they were considered a choking hazard with all the little parts.
What’s the strangest Pez-related product? Up until 20 years ago, they made Pez guns. They actually shot out the candy, and as you know, Pez is pretty hard.
What are people surprised to learn about Pez? That they’re actually made in the country of Austria, and that when Pez dispensers were first released, for eight years there was no head on the top. They looked like little cigarette lighters.
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