Thursday, July 22, 2010
I heard a piece on NPR about all the collectors flocking to the PEZ-a-mania Collector Convention in Cleveland this week. Who knew such a big deal would be made over these little candy dispensers? The name Pez was derived from the letters at the start, the middle and the end of the German word for peppermint, Pfefferminz, the first Pez flavor. Apparently, it was first sold in Vienna, Austria in 1927 as an adult breath mint, marketed as an alternative to smoking. The first Pez dispensers were similar in shape to a cigarette lighter.
Many of these plastic vintage dispensers go for hundreds and thousands of dollars, the most valuable being pre-1985. The highest verifiable sale of Pez dispenser was a private sale of a Mickey Mouse softhead at $7000 between an Austrian dealer and a California collector. The high prices which some Pez items fetch has led to the manufacturing of fake Pez items. A clear 50s space gun sold for $11,000 on eBay in 2006, but according to noted Pez author, David Welch, the dispenser was later proven by chemical testing to be a well-made fake.
Our kids had lots of Pez dispensers before '85, but I never considered them of any worth. I wonder if any are packed away in their old toy boxes? If you don't hear from me for a few days, I'll be in the cellar digging for Pez.