When Viennese confectioner Eduard Haas III began marketing his Pfefferminz, peppermint candies in small Altoids-like tins, and later in a dispenser shaped like a cigarette lighter (the “regular” designed in 1950 to help folks quit smoking), he couldn’t have possibly predicted the kind of pop culture phenomenon that he was unleashing on the world.
Pfefferminz would go on to become PEZ and those dispensers would gain a kind of cult following among collectors around the world. Today conventions are held every year in Missouri, California, Minnesota, Connecticut, South Carolina, Austria, Finland and Sweden where PEZ aficionados gather to trade and collect Pez dispensers. In 2011 there may even be a “Pezhead Cruise.” The rarest of dispensers can fetch quite a bit of money with the largest official sale at 7000 for a dispenser, and an ebay sale of 11,000 dollars for a dispenser, which was later proved to be a fake.
So it is with great pride that Gary and Nancy Doss display their collection at the Burlingame, California Museum of Pez Memorabilia. The museum was once a computer retail and repair business with a display of the Doss’ personal PEZ collection it slowly morphed into all pez all the time, business and museum and the Doss’ make their living shipping and trading PEZ around the world.
Part of what makes their collection unique is that it contains all 550 (plus) characters that Pez ever produced, including 70s psychedelic Pez, Mozart and Princess Sissi Pez, Lost in Space Pez, and the largest Pez dispenser in the world which looks like a snowman. They also have a collection of homebrew Pez dispensers including the infamous “Hitler” pez, of which only 80 were sold before the Pez lawyers put a stop to it.
Unfortunately the Pez lawyers also seem determined to put a stop the the Museum of Pez Memorabilia, despite it being a huge endorsement and advertisement for the company. The Doss’s have retained a lawyer and are keeping both the worlds largest Pez dispenser (which the company demanded be destroyed) and the museum open and operating, for now at least.