History of PEZ Candy: A 95-Year-Old Anti-Smoking Peppermint

History of PEZ Candy A 95-Year-Old Anti-Smoking Peppermint
History of PEZ Candy: A 95-Year-Old Anti-Smoking Peppermint

Intro

The History of PEZ candy is an interesting one that is rarely known or talked about. PEZ is the brand name of an Austrian compressed peppermint candy and associated candy dispensers. Each PEZ dispenser holds 12 pieces of candy. The candy is a compressed brick-shaped block measuring 15 mm long, 8mm wide, and 5mm high. 

The uppercase letters of the PEZ logo are built out of 44 brick-like Pez mints (14 bricks in the P and 15 in each E and Z), echoing the trademark’s design on the packaging and candy dispensers.

PEZ Candy
PEZ Candy

The main ingredients of PEZ Candy include; corn-syrup, sugar, plant-based fat, adipic acid, artificial and natural flavours, and colours. 

PEZ was initially a breath mint for adults developed as an alternative to smoking over 95 years ago in Vienna, Austria. Today, PEZ is exported to more than 90 countries globally. The United States alone consumes more than 3 billion Pez Candies each year. PEZ is more than just a candy with delicious flavours differing from country to country.  

PEZ Peppermint Candies
PEZ Peppermint Candies

Currently, PEZ International Corporation manufactures PEZ Candy. The candy is sold worldwide, with the main distribution centres in Austria, Connecticut, Orange, and Train.

History Timeline of Pez Candy: From the 1920s to the 2010s

The history of PEZ Candy dates back 95 years ago. This particular candy has a history that may surprise you.      

1920s

PEZ, a fine peppermint candy, was invented by Austrian confectioner Eduard Haas III in 1927 as an alternative to smoking. The iconic name PEZ was derived from the German word “Pfefferminz” (Peppermint), taking the P from the first letter, E from the middle letter, and Z from the last letter.

Eduard Haas III (left) and Eduard Haas IV (right) From the archive of PEZ Candy, In
Eduard Haas III (left) and Eduard Haas IV (right) From the archive of PEZ Candy, In

The candy was initially available in tiny PEZ drops and sold in small metal tins before the hard-pressed brick shape candy was manufactured. Confectionary sugar and flavouring are compressed with a force of several thousand pounds to create PEZ tablets, which are then built up brick-by-brick.      

PEZ Drops
PEZ Drops
1930s and 1940s

In 1935 a new PEZ Candy Factory was built in Czechoslovakia to manufacture PEZ candies on a larger scale. PEZ tablets have been used without a convenient carrying container for over 20 years. However, in the late 1940s, Haas noticed that customers wanted a simple way to pick a tablet with just one hand or share it with a friend without contaminating the candies in the tin.

PEZ peppermint ads
PEZ peppermint ads

In 1948 inventor Oscar Uxa created a patent for a small mechanical box to dispense compressed sugar tablets. PEZ introduced the first PEZ dispensers at the Vienna Trade Fair in 1949. The early PEZ mint dispensers referred to as “regulars,” resembled a cigarette lighter holding 12 tablets, just like it does now.

Peppermint-flavoured Pez piece
Peppermint-flavoured Pez piece
1950s

In 1952, PEZ established operations in the United States in New York City. On December 2, 1956, PEZ received the initial American patent for a dispenser with the number 2.620.061.

PEZ Dispenser Original 1952 Patent by Oscar Uxa
PEZ Dispenser Original 1952 Patent by Oscar Uxa

In 1956, PEZ introduced a space-gun-shaped dispenser that ejected fruit-flavoured tablets. In 1957, PEZ unveiled a 3-D character-shaped dispenser. The Halloween Witch was the first recurring character head dispenser in 1957, and Popeye was the first licensed character in 1958.

In 1956, PEZ released a space gun-shaped dispenser that shot out fruit-flavored tablets. From the archive of PEZ Candy, Inc.
In 1956, PEZ released a space gun-shaped dispenser that shot out fruit-flavoured tablets. From the archive of PEZ Candy, Inc.
1960s

During the 1960s, PEZ kept adding additional die-cuts and stickers to the dispenser base. PEZ included a variety of rare candy flavours, including flowers, liquorice, and chlorophyll.

PEZ introduced the PEZ Pals to represent a detective who dressed up in disguises to solve crimes. The PEZ Boy assumed many personas, including those of a knight, policeman, doctor, and sheikh, using these various disguises. These characters were featured in the PEZ Comic inserts that were packed with dispensers.

PEZ Dispenser Pink Panther and Insppector Clouseau
PEZ Dispenser Pink Panther and Insppector Clouseau
1970s

PEZ attained its position as a pop-culture brand through a combination of licensing agreements and unique designs.

To better serve American consumers, PEZ constructed a warehouse and candy factory in Orange, Connecticut, on November 19, 1973. Currently, the company produces all PEZ candies for the United States and Canada, making 12 million tablets daily, five days a week. PEZ introduced character dispensers with removable rubber heads in 1978.

The factory in Orange, Connecticut, now manufactures all PEZ candies for the U.S. and Canada—about 12 million tablets per day, five days per week. From the archive of PEZ Candy, Inc.
The factory in Orange, Connecticut, now manufactures all PEZ candies for the U.S. and Canada—about 12 million tablets per day, five days per week. From the archive of PEZ Candy, Inc.
1980s

In 1984, small tablets were added to the dispenser base’s bottom in Europe to assist it in standing upright. In the United States, this feature was introduced in 1987. These tabs, known as “feet” in the collecting community, were used to identify the year and price of vintage dispensers.

Vintage 1980's Disney PEZ Dispensers with Feet
Vintage 1980’s Disney PEZ Dispensers with Feet
1990s

PEZ collecting became more and more popular in the early 1990s. On June 15, 1991, Mentor, Ohio, hosted the first PEZ collector conference. Collectors from Europe, the U.S., Japan, and Canada contributed to the global success of PEZ.

In 1993, a renowned Christie’s auction house in New York organized the first-ever pop culture featuring PEZ, and Forbes Magazine put PEZ on its cover. In the mid-1990s, PEZ reintroduced the “regular” PEZ dispenser and peppermint-flavoured candy. A popular Seinfeld television segment featured an episode on the Tweety Bird PEZ dispenser.

Collectibles - 6th December 1993 Forbes Magazine Issue with PEZ Candy on the cover
Collectables – 6th December 1993 Forbes Magazine Issue with PEZ Candy on the cover
2000s

In 2000 PEZ launched Fuzzy Friends, the plush dispenser. In 2005, PEZ introduced the Star Wars Collecting Set, the first limited edition. In 2007, PEZ launched a Disney Mickey Mouse collecting tin to commemorate its 80th anniversary.

Star Wars PEZ Dispenser Collector's Set 2005 Limited Edition
Star Wars PEZ Dispenser Collector’s Set 2005 Limited Edition
2010s

Since 2011, PEZ has had a visitor centre where visitors may see a large PEZ dispenser worldwide and see how PEZ candies are created.

A booth at the annual PEZAMANIA convention for collectors
A booth at the annual PEZAMANIA convention for collectors

The Guinness Book of World Records listed the PEZ Candy in 2016. 

Today, PEZ artists or those with the character’s license create PEZ head designs. A sculptor makes a 3D mock-up of the head, and if the design is accepted, the artist’s prototype is used to build the injection moulding equipment. Factories in Vietnam, China, and Hungary manufacture dispensers.

Modern Marketing of PEZ Candy Dispensers
Modern Marketing of PEZ Candy Dispensers

Final Thoughts

The history of PEZ Candy from an Anti-Smoking Peppermint targeted at adults to a regular candy marketed to children is both interesting and fascinating in equal measures. The fact that PEZ is almost 100 years old demonstrates its true historical significance in popular culture and its successful marketing strategy.

Original PEZ Dispensers Space Guns from the 1950s
Original PEZ Dispensers Space Guns from the 1950s

4 thoughts on “History of PEZ Candy: A 95-Year-Old Anti-Smoking Peppermint

  1. god this reminds me of my childhood 🙂 I ate so many of those and I can taste them just hinking about it thx for that post and now I’m going to the first store I find to buy some

  2. Oh my god, how long have I seen these candies. My favorite when I was a kid. I ate them by the kilo. I didn’t see if they are on sale now.

  3. wow those candies were tasty I ate whenever I could or when someone from the house brought them from the street… I had forgotten about them, if it wasn’t for this article I wouldn’t remember them.

  4. I remember these candies, they were very great and I used to eat a lot of them, but I haven’t seen then a lot recently. I really like PEZ.I am gonna look through the internet, if I can find some to order.

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